VP Sambo, El-Rufai tangle over speaking slot at Yakowa memorial lecture

Vice President Namadi Sambo

Sambo denies blocking El-Rufai from speaking at memorial lecture.

The Vice President, Namadi Sambo, and former Minister of the Federal Capital Territory, Nasir El-Rufai, are engaged in a war of words over the alleged blockage of Mr. El-Rufai from speaking at the memorial lecture organised to mark the one year anniversary of the late Governor of Kaduna State, Patrick Yakowa.

Mr. El-Rufai told journalists recently that the family of the late Governor invited him to the remembrance lecture but alleged that the presence of Mr. Sambo made it impossible for the former minister to speak.

However, Mr. Sambo, in a statement by his spokesperson, Umar Sani, on Tuesday, said that the former minister was using the memorial lecture as a platform to renew his usual verbal vituperation against the administration of President Goodluck Jonathan, this time, specifically directing them at the Vice President.

Mr. Sambo said he needed to respond to the allegations raised by Mr. El-Rufai to set the records straight. He insisted that the lecture was organised by the Yakowa family and that all those who were billed to speak, going by the programme, spoke.

“For someone who was invited by the family to speak, one wonders why (Mr. El-Rufai’s) name was conspicuously absent in the programme. Why would the presence of the Vice President generate any problem for him? Was he not aware that the Vice President was a Special Guest and was billed to speak at the event, which was widely advertised in our national dailies,” Mr. Sani asked.

Mr. El-Rufai said he had wanted to talk about developments in Kaduna State, from where he and the Vice President hail.

“My intention was to honour Yakowa and raise fundamental issues affecting the development of Kaduna State presently. I was invited by Yakowa’s family to attend the memorial lecture, and I was billed to speak there. But when Vice President Sambo and the PDP national chairman arrived, I knew there would be problem,” Mr. El-Rufai said.

He also said that he had wanted to raise questions on how the late governor’s legacies were being destroyed.

“My task was to eulogise Yakowa and what he stood for, then raise fundamental questions regarding present situation of our state. Are they really preserving Yakowa’s legacies? What about local government funds? The 23 local government areas of the state are in bondage; their finances are being withheld and public funds are being mismanaged. Was that what Yakowa did? Absolutely no. This is why they are afraid and they stopped me from speaking but they cannot hide the reality of our predicament,” he said.

The Vice President’s spokesperson, in the his statement, asked if the memorial lecture was the only platform were Mr. El-Rufai could have raised fundamental questions on the current events in the state

“As a concerned Nigerian, does he not have other avenues to air his views on the happenings in the state? We believe that this is the cacophony and the ranting of an Accidental Politician who savours the joy of echoing directionless vituperations at responsible citizens. We believe the idea was to embark on a wild goose chase aiming to attack the Presidency for political expediency. Succinctly put, we hasten to say that no such thing happened at all,” Mr. Sani said.

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