Professor John Paden, President Muhammadu Buhari’s official biographer, is a man that is very comfortable with distorting the truth and telling lies. He is also a man that has been doing so for virtually all his adult life.
Anyone that doubts that should read his biography on the late Sir Ahmadu Bello, which was written in 1986 and titled, Ahmadu Bello, Saurdana of Sokoto: Values and Leadership In Nigeria, and which is essentially a self-serving and comprehensive compilation of Bello’s numerous virtues with little or no mention of his many vices.
I read that book twenty years ago and I placed it in the “light entertainment” shelf in my library because it lacked gravitas or any real intellectual stamina.
It was, at best, a beautiful public relations job for Bello and, at worse, a compilation of disjointed verbiage fit only for the dustbin.
Paden’s book on Buhari falls into the same category. It is nothing but an illusion: an extraordinary and fantastic fairy-tale built on a shady foundation of pseudo-intellectual claptrap and garbage.
To him, President Buhari is infallible. He is, at best, an angel of light and, at worst, a perfect mortal with no warts.
Paden’s latest contribution is the greatest exercise in dishonesty and historical revisionism that has ever been undertaken by any foreign or Nigerian historian since independence.
The only one that comes close to it in this respect is the book that he wrote on the Saurdana and a number of other books that he authored over the years which were primarily about core northern Nigeria. Writing rubbish seems to be Paden’s stock in trade.
In his latest book, amongst many other glaring and shameless mendacities, he indulged in two particular lies that are an eloquent testimony to his perfidy.
The first was that three names were sent to President Muhammadu Buhari for the position of vice president, namely Asiwaju Bola Tinubu, Yemi Osinbajo, and Babatunde Fashola in 2014 for the 2015 presidential election.
This is false and it is simply an attempt to demean and belittle Tinubu and the role that he played in the whole exercise.
The truth is that it was Tinubu and Tinubu alone that forwarded the only name that was given serious consideration for the vice presidential slot by President Buhari. That name was Professor Yemi Osinbajo.
Senator Olorunimbe Mamora was also considered by Buhari but he did not have the backing of Tinubu and neither did Tinubu forward his name.
The idea that Tinubu’s name was forwarded to be vice president alongside that of his two proteges in the persons of Osinbajo and Fashola is nothing but fantasy and it was a beautiful and tasteful dish and tale that was spiced, cooked up, and prepared in the kitchens of Aso Rock.
Again, Tinubu never pressured Buhari to make him his vice president as Paden has asserted because he had decided to drop that ambition long before then simply because the idea of a Muslim/Muslim ticket, which was originally on the cards, had eventually been jettisoned and rejected by the party due to public pressure and the division and outrage it attracted.
If the Muslim/Muslim ticket had not been rejected Tinubu would have been the vice presidential candidate of the APC and no-one else, including his erstwhile protege Babatunde Fashola, would have had a hope in hell of getting it.
This is especially so given the fact that Buhari had originally promised him that position at the time that their parties merged and the APC was established but he later reneged. That is the bitter truth.
Paden was either misinformed by those who commissioned him to write the book or he was being propelled by an ulterior and malevolent motive for writing the rubbish that he did on the issue of the choosing of a running mate for General Buhari.
Whichever way, he was completely wrong and for the sake of history and posterity we must set the record straight.
The second lie that he told, which was infinitely more dangerous and repugnant than the first, was that President Buhari has documents which are signed by President Jonathan which prove that the latter sought for what he described as “extra-budgetary funds”.
This is a pernicious lie. It has no basis in rationality, reason or truth. There is absolutely no evidence to substantiate it and I challenge Paten or President Buhari himself to make those letters and signed applications for “extra budgetary funds” public.
The whole thing is simply an attempt to further tarnish and demonise Jonathan and all those that served under him before the world and I believe that that is a crying shame.
I can understand such lies coming from a presidency or a federal government that is scared of its own shadows and that feeds off its own propaganda but I cannot accept them coming from a supposedly reputable historian, albeit a foreigner, who has become the official writer and cheerleader of all things caliphate over the last 30 years.
Amongst many other things he also suggested that other senior figures in the political and military configuration in our country committed serious crimes and indulged in damning acts of corruption without being specific or even providing details of those acts.
Instead of doing so he suggested that the individuals concerned, which included President Olusegun Obasanjo, would have been prosecuted, brought to justice and called to account for their allegedly dastardly acts whilst in government if not for the fact that this could have had implications for the stability of the nation and national security.
Obasanjo, who is always quick off the mark and who was actually present at the launching of the book in Abuja as was Tinubu, responded in a measured manner by saying that there were “some insinuations” in it which he disagreed with.
Frankly that was a cop out. Obasanjo was being far too polite and this was probably due to the fact that he had not read the whole book as at that time and he did not want to dampen the enthusiasm of the biographer, upset the president, or ruin the occasion.
The adage is that you do not go to someone’s dinner party and spoil it by confronting his lies, challenging his allegations and speaking the bitter truth.
Yet I believe that though Obasanjo touched on the matter he did not go far enough. I believe that it is incumbent upon all those that were maligned and alleged to have indulged in acts of corruption by Paden to set the record straight and state their case.
It would be very dangerous for all those that have been misrepresented in this so-called book, including President Goodluck Jonathan, President Olusegun Obasanjo and Asiwaju Bola Ahmed Tinubu, to keep quiet and not clarify the issues about what was written or insinuated about them because many years from now that book will be used as a major source and reference point for our history.
I urge all those affected to write their own books quickly otherwise they will become victims of historical revisionism.
If I had been invited by President Muhammadu Buhari or Professor Paden to the book launch I would have mounted the podium and said as much. Sadly, I was not.
Permit me to end this contribution by making a suggestion to Paden. Since he wrote about Jonathan’s campaign funds and alleged all manner of corruption concerning their source and application, in his next book on President Buhari I would suggest that he sheds more light on how his subjects own 2015 presidential campaign funds were sourced.
For a start he should tell us who provided the $10 million that was paid as consultancy fees to the company of Mr. David Axelrod, President Barack Obama’s erstwhile campaign manager.
He should also tell us the source of funds and how Buhari and his team managed the N19 billion that was given to him in cash by the then sitting governor of the leading and largest state in the South West and the N24.6 billion naira that was given to him in cash and in one day (which was recorded on video before being handed over) by another leading South Western politician.
In addition to that he should tell us precisely how much the then governors of Rivers and Kano states and the present governors of Ogun and Kwara states amongst many others contributed to Buhari’s campaign and where they got the money from.
Since everyone is claiming to be holy and righteous in this matter let us all get there and publicly exchange notes. After all, the Nigerian public, and indeed the entire world, has a right to know.
If Paden fails to ask those questions and declines to provide the answers then he, his accursed books and his questionable and dubious “whitewashing” mission of President Muhammadu Buhari shall undoubtedly remain damned forever.
Whether he does so or not other governments that will come to power in the future in this country will not only get the necessary answers but they will also do the appropriate thing and bring them to justice. It is only a matter of time.
Femi Fani-Kayode is a lawyer, a Nigerian politician, an evangelical christian, an essayist, a poet and he was the Special Assistant (Public Affairs) to President Olusegun Obasanjo from July 2003 until June 2006. He was the minister of culture and tourism of the Federal Republic of Nigeria from June 22nd to Nov 7th 2006 and as the minister of Aviation from Nov 7th 2006 to May 29th 2007. He tweets from@realFFK.
The opinions expressed in this article are solely those of the author.