Jonathan during his visits to Ogun State monarchs recently.
There were indications on Sunday that President Goodluck Jonathan might not sign an agreement with Yoruba leaders on the forthcoming elections.
The PUNCH reliably gathered in Abuja that while the President was ready to specify positions he would give the South-West if he emerges victorious on March 28, he would not go to the extent of signing a pact with the leaders or any South-West group.
Sunday PUNCH had on Sunday reported 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.
Jonathan was reported to have solicited the support of the zone at various meetings he had with some Yoruba leaders in Ogun and Oyo states.
A former Minister of Works, Adeseye Ogunlewe, had said that Jonathan was in the South-West to seek the zone’s support for his re-election bid.
The Special Adviser to the President on Media and Publicity, Reuben Abati, in an interview with one of our correspondents on Sunday , said that the issue of signing an undertaking did not arise during the consultations Jonathan had with over 50 monarchs in the zone.
He however stated that signing an undertaking was not important since Jonathan was already addressing the alleged marginalisation of the South-West.
The Presidential spokesman said the only time the issue of marginalisation came up was during one of the press interviews granted by the President.
In responding to that question, Abati quoted the President as recalling that the position of the Speaker of the House of Representatives was zoned to the South-West when the government was being composed.
He said Jonathan noted that it was also a son of the zone, Bola Tinubu, who sabotaged that arrangement.
Despite this, however, he said the President had since been making conscious efforts to appoint sons and daughters of the zone to sensitive positions.
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.
“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 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.”
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 say, Nigeria belongs to all of us,” he added.