Special Adviser to the President on Media and Publicity, Dr. Reuben Abati has made it clear that President Goodluck Jonathan did not sign and has no intention of signing any agreement with Yoruba leaders of the South West Zone for the March 28 election, when he visited the zone last week.
Dr. Abati said in an interview that the issue of signing an undertaking did not arise during the consultations Jonathan had with over 50 monarchs in the zone during the visit.
“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 Monarchs 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.
“Senator Ogunlewe may be echoing the concern that has been in the air that the South West is not being adequately represented in the Federal Government.
“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 s 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 marginalized will not occur.”
Abati added that Jonathan made it clear during the South West tour he had utmost respect for the Yoruba.
“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 says, Nigeria belongs to all of us,” he added.
It had been reported in the media Sunday that Yoruba leaders had asked the President to put into writing, the key positions he would give the South-West if he wins the election. [myad]