By Akinwande Soji-Ojo
Former Managing Director of News Agency on Nigeria (NAN) and Director of Media, the Tinubu Campaign Organisation, Bayo Onanuga, has said he was the one who introduced Prof. Yemi Osinbajo to former Lagos State Governor, Bola Tinubu, in 1999, a decision he now regrets.
Onanuga said this in a statement issued on Monday ,while reacting to an interview by a former National Secretary of the defunct Congress for Progressive Change (CPC), who had lambasted Osinbajo for daring to contest against Tinubu, his former boss.
In the statement, Onanuga said Osinbajo was a lecturer in 1999 when Tinubu was putting his cabinet together in the presence of Otunba Gbenga Daniel (who later became governor of Ogun State) and Dele Alake (who served as Commissioner for Information under Tinubu).
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.
The veteran journalist 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.
Onanuga also 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 President Muhammadu Buhari, the APC presidential candidate in 2015 election, which they won.
However, Osinbajo who has served as vicePl 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-glGeneral of Lagos State.
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,” Ojudu said.