by Kolapo Olapoju
The Special Adviser to the President on Media and Publicity, Reuben Abati, in an interview with Punch Newspapers on Sunday, February 22, alleged that National leader of the All Progressives Congress (APC) Bola Tinubu, blocked the emergence of a Yoruba lawmaker as the Speaker of the House of Representatives.
Abati made the disclosure, while responding to a rumoured ‘pact’ President Goodluck Jonathan was said to have signed with Yoruba monarchs and leaders, when he recently met with them.
According to Abati, the signing of an undertaking never arose at any point during the consultations between the President and over 50 monarchs from the South-west.
Abati said: “What I recall is that the President was well received during the consultations in the South-west and there was no occasion during his interaction with the over 50 Obas that he was asked to sign any undertaking. He also met with well known elders of Yoruba land. He met also with labour leaders. I don’t remember President Jonathan being told to sign any undertaking.”
“If that issue came up at all in the course of our visit to the South-west, it was during one press interview that a journalist asked about the issue.”
“The President drew attention to what Senator Ogunlewe himself mentioned that when the present government was being composed, the position of the Speaker of the House of Representatives was zoned to the South West but it was a Yoruba son, Bola Tinubu, working on the platform of Action Congress of Nigeria who blocked and sabotaged that arrangement.”
“He also made it clear that this is something that he has addressed. You will see that the President has been making efforts to address the issue.
“We have Yorubas occupying sensitive positions in the cabinet. A Yoruba son is the Minister of Agriculture. A Yoruba daughter is the Minister of State for the FCT. The Ministry of Communication Technology is being headed by a Yoruba daughter. Under Jonathan, a Yoruba woman has also served as Minister of State Defence. Two Yoruba sons have since been Ministers of Police Affairs under Jonathan.
“We have also had a Yoruba son occupying the position of Minister of State, Defence. He has also appointed Yoruba persons as his Chief of Staff and as his official spokesperson. You will see that the President has been trying to address this issue. What the President has said was that when he comes back for his second term, he will make sure that issues like this about one part of the country being marginalised will not occur.”
“As for anybody telling him to come and sign any paper, that is not true. That has not happened but definitely, Yoruba people want more. President Jonathan is committed to equity, justice and carrying everyone along. As he always say, Nigeria belongs to all of us,” Abati added.