Vice-President Yemi Osinbajo and Asiwaju Bola Tinubu in Abuja. Photos: Vice-President’s office
Veteran journalist and Spokesman for the Bola Tinubu Campaign Organisation, Bayo Onanuga, says he was the one who introduced Prof. Yemi Osinbajo to then Lagos State Governor, Bola Tinubu, in 1999, a decision he now regrets.
Onanuga said this in a statement on Monday in reaction to a PUNCH interview with a former National Secretary of the defunct Congress for Progressive Change, Buba Galadima, who had lambasted Osinbajo for daring to contest against Tinubu, his former boss.
In his article, Onanuga said Osinbajo was a lecturer in 1999 when Tinubu was putting his cabinet together in the presence of Otunba Gbenga Daniel (later Governor of Ogun State) and Dele Alake (later Lagos Commissioner for Information).
He recalled that Tinubu had written down the name of Bayo Oriola as the Commissioner for Justice and Attorney-General of Lagos State when he asked Tinubu to nominate his bosom friend, Osinbajo, instead.
“Looking back now, did I regret what I did in January 1999. Yes, I would say I have some regret, especially since my action hurt Bayo Oriola; and my apology to Oriola once again. I could not have foreseen today’s turn of events between Tinubu and Osinbajo, who I nominated to be justice commissioner,” Onanuga stated.
He said when he nominated Osinbajo and spoke highly of him, Tinubu was eager to meet him and asked him (Onanuga) to invite him over.
“After the meeting, I went to Osinbajo’s house in Ogudu to invite him to meet the new governor, Bola Tinubu. I remember entering the apartment from the kitchen. The wife was there when I delivered the message and left the house with him, later.
“I have never published this story before and hereby want to apologise to my namesake Bayo Oriola, for blocking what should have rightly been his entitlement, going by the role he played during the campaign. I hope Oriola would have the heart to forgive me,” Onanuga stated.
The former Managing Director of the News Agency of Nigeria noted that Alake, who was a classmate of Osinbajo and Babatunde Fowler (later Chairman of the Federal Inland Revenue Service) at Igbobi College Lagos, also put in a word for Osinbajo to be nominated as the justice commissioner.
Tinubu would later nominate Osinbajo as the running mate to Major General Muhammadu Buhari (retd.), the Presidential candidate of the All Progressives Congress for the 2015 election in which they won.
However, Osinbajo who has served as Vice-President for seven years is now contesting the APC primary against Tinubu for the Presidential ticket.
Incidentally, the Special Adviser to the President on Political Matters, Senator Babafemi Ojudu, had in an interview with media entrepreneur, Chude Jideonwo, claimed he introduced Osinbajo to Tinubu when the latter asked him to nominate someone competent to be attorney-general of Lagos.
Ojudu, who is currently campaigning for Osinbajo, had said, “If I support Osinbajo, he deserves to be supported; I’ve known him since 1989. And in 1999, when I worked for Ahmed Bola Tinubu to become governor, he asked me if I knew someone who would become a good attorney-general and I said I have a lawyer who is smart and principled and he said go and call him,” he said.