Why Jonathan sacked Nigeria’s Sports Minister, Bolaji Abdullahi

Mr. Abdullahi is believed to be loyal to Bukola Saraki.

The politicking in Kwara State is the main reason President Goodluck Jonathan fired Sports Minister, Bolaji Abdullahi, presidency sources have told PREMIUM TIMES.

A new Sports Minister, Tamuno Danagogo, was announced by Mr. Jonathan before the commencement of Wednesday’s meeting of the Executive Council of the Federation, FEC. The president made no mention of Mr. Abdullahi.

Mr. Abdullahi, apparently aware of his sack, was absent at the FEC meeting.

However, the Special Adviser to the President on Media, Reuben Abati, confirmed the sack of Mr. Abdullahi, but did not give any reason for the decision.

Presidency sources, however, told PREMIUM TIMES that the sack was necessitated by the politicking in Kwara, the home state of Mr. Abdullahi.

Mr. Abdullahi was first appointed Minister of Youth Development in 2011 and later asked to supervise the Sports Ministry. He was appointed substantive minister of sports in May 2012. He is believed to have been nominated as minister by Ex-Kwara State governor, Bukola Saraki.

Mr. Saraki who had initially shown interest in challenging Mr. Jonathan for the Peoples Democratic Party, PDP, presidential ticket in 2011 was a major supporter of Mr. Jonathan during the 2011 elections. He, however, recently joined the opposition All Progressives Congress, APC, along with his supporters in Kwara including the state governor, Abdulfatah Ahmed; and has since been a critic of the Jonathan administration.

Rumours had been rife since Mr. Saraki’s defection that Mr. Abdullahi, a known loyalist of Mr. Saraki in Kwara, would be relieved of his job as minister.

But Mr. Abdullahi held on, perhaps due to the seeming successes in sports that Nigeria achieved under his supervision, including Nigeria’s victory at the last African Nations Cup.

However, the straw for Mr. Abdullahi broke on Monday when Mr. Jonathan visited Kwara to welcome decampees to the PDP, presidency sources said.

A presidential source said it is the tradition that when the President is to visit a state, the minister from the state goes ahead to make sure all is in place. But in Mr. Abdullahi’s case, he stayed back to go with the president’s entourage.

The source who pleaded anonymity also said that “even during the rally his people complained bitterly over his attitude towards them and said the problems they are having in the party at the state level were caused by his disloyalty.”

The source told PREMIUM TIMES that the prominent decampees told the President that they cannot work with Mr. Abdullahi in Kwara, where they face the herculean task of dislodging Mr. Saraki.

They explained that “that was why he (Mr. Abdullahi) was not given any role to play during the president’s visit,” the source said.

Two of the major decampees to the PDP were Dele Belgore, the governorship candidate of the defunct Action Congress of Nigeria in 2011, and Gbemisola Saraki, a former senator and sibling of Bukola Saraki.

“At the Emir’s palace, it was also learnt that he (Mr. Abdullahi) had been fronting for Senator Saraki” a source added referring to Mr. Jonathan’s visit to the Ilorin Emir’s palace during the Monday Kwara visit.

Mr. Abdullahi has, while serving as minister, always publicly declared support for the Jonathan administration, but has never denied being a Mr. Saraki loyalist. With his removal as minister, he is expected to now define his political stance.


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  • Foresight

    You cannot serve two masters. You must have the courage to fully identify with one.

    • Basirat

      he is not serving two master he is basically doing his job as a leader which it is to serve the people(Nigerians) and not the president or party leaders,and that is what leadership is about… serving the people.

  • Garden-City Boy

    That’s my boy….Jonathan. These hypocrites need to feel some of the presidential heat. These people should know it that they can’t eat their cake and have it. I can see a strong President emerging.


      Is a minister or any appointee serving the country or the president? I believe loyalty to the state should come first. Jonathan and his cronies would soon become history but the state stands. Chikena

      • Pete

        If the minister is answerable only to the country then let the country reverse the sack. Fork-tongued hypocrites who refuse to see anything good in a humble, gentle president!

      • Henry Ibezim

        You APC people talk without brain… Who said he was torn between being loyal to the country and the president… You people should keep living in your disillusion… It’s so amazing how it is one group that hates Jonathan… If he was Yoruba, you’ll say he is the best President Nigeria has seen… Come out of your double standard lives and face reality

    • Tonnero

      So in your view, Obama’s appointment of Robert Gates a Republican and George Bush’s Defence Secretary as his own was a weak move?

      • Garden-City Boy

        I don’ remember Jonathan ever committing himself to be an Obama copy-cat. You have to be real, Nigeria is not the United States, and the sitting President is Dr. Goodluck Jonathan, not Prof. Barack Obama, Okay? How many Abacha ministers did Obasanjo retain? How many Obasanjo ministers did Yar’Adua inherit? The problem you all have is your wish to live right inside Jonathan’s brain to direct his thinking and have him act the way you awusa people would wish. And you call him “clueless”. Wait to see how he ramps things up, and you then know who is clueless.
        Even then, this President retained the thieving Sanusi who was a Yar’Adua appointee. There were chances Jonathan would have even extending his tenure had the bum not turned himself into a tail that wags the dog. So, how about that one, my good friend?

      • Henry Ibezim

        Obama knew they would work for the country… Unlike APC… Didn’t you read the news today… Sanusi gave over 87 billion contract to APC chieftains… You APC guys never seize to amaze me… Or you think Nigerians can be manipulated?

    • LoveJesus

      After how many years? Even a slow snail would have emerged faster?

      • Garden-City Boy

        He needed to conserve momentum and keep his powder dry till……..you know when, don’t you?

  • fatrik luu

    It served Bolaji right. He cannot be playing to the gallery. He has to clearly define his political lineage and stand by it. if he fails to do so he should bear the full wrath of the law…

    • Basirat

      NO, he has not defined is his political lineage because he has not said with is mouth ad plz what is the LAW?

  • Comfortkay

    What Nigeria need is a man or woman that has sport life and not just a province man to head the sport ministry.

  • Basirat

    You all talk like you are any better because a sources says something doesn’t make it any way right …..sometimes before commenting I think it is good to read and understand what you have read. This source didn’t say bolaji is supporting any party… as a matter of fact he is not supporting any party because he technocrat so to me he is just doing what is right which is minding the job that has being given to him. Nigerians are you sicking for a leader who thinks about doing what is right for himself or for you?. Ministers are appointed to work under the ministries they are given and not to work for a particular president but for the citizen and I am sure that they are not appointed because of the part they are in.

    • Henry Ibezim

      Shut up there… Can’t you read… Action speaks louder than words!

  • Oluwaseyi

    I love this Man , he as been a role model… To hell with Mr President he’s going down already

    • Henry Ibezim

      You are APC… You would hate him… Because your party would not be in his seat for the foreseeable future… If a party were to take over from PDP it won’t be APC

  • Muhammed Adam

    Am not even sure if Jonathan really knows what he is doing

    • Henry Ibezim

      You don’t know what you are typing then!

  • Elias Oboyi

    It serves bolaji right as a minister he should know that 100% loyalty to the presidency is not negotiable . APC people should keep day dreaming about taking over power from Jonathan in 2015 . since I was born I have never seen a religious and regional group in the name of a political party like APC. They are the ones sponsoring boko haram and will turn around and blame Jonathan government