REVEALED: How Saraki’s man, Bolaji Abdullahi, emerged APC spokesperson

Bolaji Abdullahi
Bolaji Abdullahi

Former Minister of Sports, Bolaji Abdullahi, emerged the new spokesperson of the governing All Progressives Congress, APC, on Thursday through a unanimous decision of the executive committee of the north-central geo-political zone.

The election of a new spokesperson to replace the former one, Lai Mohammed, was done Thursday in Abuja at the Zonal Congress of the party.

Among the delegates to the congress were Governors Simon Lalong of Plateau and Sani Bello of Niger States.

The congress was chaired by National Vice Chairman of APC from the zone, Zakari Idde.

The election began after the Deputy Speaker Nasarawa State House of Assembly, Godiya Akwashiki, nominated Mr. Abdullahi for the post of National Publicity Secretary.

The nomination was seconded by spokesperson of the Nigerian Senate, Aliyu Abdullahi, from Niger State.

The nomination was subsequently confirmed via a voice vote by the delegates.

Saraki’s man

The election of Mr. Abdullahi, a known ally of Senate President Bukola Saraki, is coming at a time of significantly improved relationship between Mr. Saraki and his party as well as the presidency.

Mr. Saraki emerged as Senate President against the wish of the leadership of the APC under John Odigie-Oyegun.

Since his emergence, the Senate President has been in and out of court over charges of fraud and forgery, and had to contend with a presidency that displayed its unhappiness with the senate president.

However, the federal government in October dropped the forgery charges against the Senate President amidst allegations that was done because of his improved relationship with the presidency. The dropping of the charges was hailed by several APC chieftains including former vice president Atiku Abubakar and former Lagos governor Bola Tinubu. Apart from mending his relationship with his party’s senators opposed to his election, Mr. Saraki has also mended his relationship with several APC leaders opposed to his emergence as senate president, including Mr. Tinubu.

The improved relationship with his party and the presidency has also seen Mr. Saraki become a frequent guest to the presidential villa to hold closed door meetings with the president.

Mr. Saraki’s relationship with Mr. Abdullahi however predates the APC. Mr. Abdullahi was appointed commissioner for education in Kwara by then Governor Saraki, elected on the platform of the Peoples Democratic Party, PDP.

Mr. Abdullahi was also appointed Minister of Sports by former President Goodluck Jonathan reportedly on the recommendations of Mr. Saraki.

However, when Mr. Saraki defected to the APC, it became impossible for Mr. Jonathan to retain the services of Mr. Abdullahi due to his closeness to the senate president.

He was fired by the president despite being seen as one of the shining lights of that administration.

He subsequently moved to the APC.

Why he emerged spokesperson

However, apart from his closeness to Mr. Saraki, one major factor that helped Mr. Abdullahi emerge as the APC spokesperson is the existing zoning formula in the party.

The party had in June 2014 adopted a zoning arrangement for all its national offices.

Based on the arrangement, the south-south produced the National Chairman, while the north-east produced the National Secretary.

The Deputy National Chairman was zoned to the South West; National Treasurer to the North West; and National Publicity Secretary, North Central zones respectively.

After the national zoning arrangements, the regions also micro zoned the offices and the National Publicity Secretary was zoned to Kwara State.

Sources told PREMIUM TIMES that the party hierarchy decided to allow the existing arrangement to continue and Kwara State was allowed to nominate Mr. Mohammed’s replacement, the erstwhile spokesperson.

They also said Mr. Abdullahi was single-handedly picked by Mr. Saraki, “hence he was unopposed”.

The Senate president is believed to be in full control of political structures in Kwara State.

How I will operate

Speaking to reporters shortly after his emergence, Mr. Abdullahi said he would adopt a fresh strategy to “endear the APC on the minds of Nigerians”.

Mr. Abdullahi said his present post is entirely different from his former position of sports minister.

“They therefore, demand different approaches,” he said.

“I have a fair understanding of what I am expected to do even though you never know until you really get there.

“What I can assure is that I will do the best I can, not only in the improvement of our party but also in contributing to the progress of this country especially at this challenging period,” he said.

Mr. Abdullahi said he was equal to the task because his experience would help him withstand any form of pressure that comes with the office.

“However, what I know is that every human being is under pressure. Mr. President, the ruling party chairman and everybody including the journalists are under pressure. There will always be pressure because the expectations of people are very high.

“So, irrespective of the economic challenges, we have to continue to weather the storm especially now that I am brought in to be part of the process. All I can reassure is that I will give the best I can to ensure that we continue to move forward,” he said.

On the challenges of stepping into Lai Mohammed’s “big shoes”, Mr. Abdullahi said “the way I see it is that there is no template for this kind of assignment. Different period calls for different approaches. Alhaji Lai Mohammed did very well as the spokesperson of the opposition party.

“But, I think that the temperament that one will need to speak for a ruling party; even if Lai Mohammed had continued now, is going to be quite different from the temperament one will need to speak as an opposition spokesperson.

“More than any other thing, I think that what I am going to do is to bring my many years of experience as a journalist and as an editor to this assignment and be as professional as I can be.

“So, I don’t think we have the same assignment. He did excellently well, but I think that my assignment is different. I will essentially try to do my best,” he said.

The former minister thanked the delegates for finding him worthy and assured that he would represent the zone well.


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  • CountryWatch 2016

    Premium Times Editor,

    President Buhari is convincing fewer people that he’s truly fighting corruption. People rather see him engaging
    in convenient negotiation and compromise. There’s no one convicted or sentenced to a term in prison under
    the current regime of President Buhari. Rather, associates of those under probe for corrupt activity are being
    rewarded with high offices. That sort of dissonance raises doubt because perception is reality. A Policeman
    who breaks bread with a criminal kingpin invites disbelief. The Bukola Saraki example is a sore one because
    Bukola Saraki shuttles the Tribunal facing corruption charges and on same day is seen huddling in the office
    of President in the villa in some closed-door meeting thrice a week. That does not inspire trust that a serious
    anti-corruption war is going on in Nigeria. President Buhari himself would have cried havoc if Jonathan did that.

    • Babso

      Saraki is not visiting PMB as a friend but as president of the Senate. I cannot remember seen them dancing to makosa music together and so can not accuse PMB of any wrongdoings. Saraki’s trial should not lead governance to standstill. Let him have his days in court while governance continue.

      • Eddie O. T

        @Babso:disqus : No, you are very wrong. I think @Countrywatch2016 got it right. Barack Obama never
        hosted an accused criminal who is a government official and facing trial. President Buhari should learn
        how to behave. President Buhari does not aspire to modern and civilized standards, as his interview
        in Germany on his last visit showed. President Buhari aspires to the backward standards of Burundi.
        No wonder Nigeria has almost gone to the dogs under President Buhari’s poor standards of thinking.

      • trutho234

        IS BUKOLA SARAKI FACING TRIAL FOR FRAUD AND CORRUPTION? THE ANSWER IS YES!
        THEREFORE, IT IS ETHICALLY WRONG OF PRESIDENT BUHARI TO HOST SARAKI AT HOME.
        THERE’s NO GOVERNANCE ISSUE INVOLVING THE SENATE AND REQUIRES CONSPIRACY.

    • Al

      Bros you forget your password??

  • KBE

    THERE IS A VERY DISTURBING TRAFFIC SNARLE ON LAGOS IBADAN EXPRESSWAY AROUND OGERE NOW. IT IS CAUSED BY ROAD BLOCK MOUNTED BY THE MILITARY. THE ARMY AUTHORITY NEED TO ACT FAST TO STOP THE HARDSHIP AND UNNECESSARY SUFFERING OF THE ROAD USERS. THE SITUATION IS VERY BAD PLEASE.

  • Taiwo

    Yes, Buhari is fighting corruption. Iro n la!

  • Omooba Adekunle Orafidiya

    PDP = 6. APC = half a dozen.

    • Pointblank2000

      @disqus_adrUdD9Atb:disqus

      Anybody with skeletons in the cupboard can never fight corruption. It is as simple as that.

      Nigerians were wasting their lives betting on Muhamadu Buhari to help fight corruption.

      Muhamadu Buhari simply does not have the moral qualifications to fight any corruption.

      The prison yards will remain empty for the remainder two years with no thief inside a cell.

      • lanre

        You may be correct.
        It will be nicer if you can name the person/people who will be better placed to fight corruption.

      • Al

        Bros your password is incorrect

  • wode

    PMB should be wary of the hijack of the party hierarchy by the wolves. While he is trying to run away from one wolf, he may be getting closer to a devil who knows nothing about loyalty but would cunningly do everything to get hold of power. Although, this may look like a transparent election, they (i.e. the wolves) know how they do it. PMB shouldn’t forget OBJ’s experience when he needed to be prostrating to some people before he could get the second term ticket. That was simply because they held OBJ in the jugular by taking over the party structure, while OBJ was busy in the act of governance. If somebody can go as far as spanking his own father, whose other father would be seen as sacred?