President Goodluck Jonathan on Friday publicly lamented that he was unable to make a Yoruba politician the Speaker of the House of Representatives after 2011 general elections because of the selfish agenda of some Yoruba leaders.
He spoke at the Yoruba Unity Summit with the theme: “National Development: Wither the Yoruba,” which held at the Oduduwa Hall of the Obafemi Awolowo University, Ile-Ife.
Jonathan who was the special guest of honour at the event organised by the Yoruba Unity Forum, said he recognised the Southwest as a key player in the country and was still haunted by that unfortunate incident in 2011 when his desire to repay the Yoruba for their support for him was lost.
Mulikat Akande had then vied to be Speaker of the House of Representatives but lost to Aminu Tambuwal of the Northwest because of inadequate support from her Southwestern colleagues.
Recalling the events, the President said: “I thank you all for the support in the past elections. One of the problems I faced in the National Assembly is that I felt the right thing should be done because our party, the PDP, has a formula.
“We have six geo-political zones in the country and when the President emerges from one of the geo-political zones, the Vice-President emerges from another geo-political zone, the rest core offices, the Senate President, the Speaker, Secretary to Federal Government, the chairman of the party must come from different geo-political zones.
“The last time, it was difficult for me because I insisted that the Southwest must get the Speaker. Of course, I couldn’t go through with it because some of us within the Southwest didn’t want it, based on some personal reasons. I am still suffering from that till today.
“That is one of the reasons the leaders said, this time around, we must work collectively so that whatever position is zoned to the Southwest, we should get that position. People should not rob it from us.”
He expressed his belief in one Nigeria and challenged the Yoruba to be united even as he declared that the contributions of the Southwest to national unity would always be cherished.
Jonathan also noted the significance of the Southwest in the nation’s economy as he recalled that the region, particularly Lagos and Ogun states, control 55 per cent of the economy, a reason he remains committed to providing the people with infrastructure, electricity and other resources to further boost the economy.
“With unity, we can go to the moon. The Yoruba will not be left behind,” he added.
The President noted that the Yoruba had joined the national political fray with vigour and enterprise and were never afraid of internal debate among themselves, a reason for their being in the vanguard of demand for a national conference, as had just been concluded by his administration.
He again promised to implement the recommendations of the conference although he pointed out that there were some things he could not say or do immediately, as they could be deliberately given partisan consideration by desperate politicians who “are even ready to kill.”
Also, Akande noted that the Southwest had been relegated in the political arrangement of the nation not due to any deliberate action of Jonathan but because of Yoruba disunity.
“We should support his re-election bid, and we believe that he will reward us by reinstating us to our rightful place,” she stated.
In his fiery remarks, Ekiti State Governor, Ayodele Fayose, urged President Jonathan not to be bothered or intimidated by former President Obasanjo’s criticisms because they are only made out of spite, which cannot be appeased.
Photo Credit: State House Photo