…Presidency angry, may sanction SGF over comments
Provocative remarks: “Tinubu and Akande were the ones that made it possible because if it had been left to northerners, it is doubtful if they will take a Christian man to make Secretary to the Government of the Federation”.
Soni Daniel, Northern Region Editor
Indications emerged yesterday that the Secretary to the Government of the Federation, Mr. Babachir David Lawal, has come under fire from Presidency over a provocative claim he made during a thanksgiving service in Abuja last Saturday.
Lawal, who assembled top party and Christian leaders for a thanksgiving service in Abuja had paid glowing tribute to the APC National Leader, Asiwaju Ahmed Tinubu and the former Acting National Chairman, Bisi Akande, as being responsible for his nomination to Buhari for appointment as the SGF.
He also said that his choice as a Christian would not have been possible if the nomination had been left to Northern leaders to make.
At the event attended by the Vice President Prof Yemi Osinbajo, Lawal said: “I am Secretary to the Government today, because those people-Tinubu and Akande- that I mentioned were the very first to put the idea in the mind of the President.
“They were the ones that made it possible because if it has been left to northerners, it is doubtful if they will take a Christian man to make Secretary to the Government of the Federation”.
But competent sources said that barely two days after Lawal had made the remark, angry leading Muslim leaders and northern elite, who felt insulted by his claim, stormed the Presidential Villa and complained to President Muhammadu Buhari and asked to discipline the SGF for being careless with his speech.
The Northern leaders’ delegation, Vanguard learnt, was led by a northern governor, who is said to have the hears of Buhari and he spoke on behalf of the aggrieved persons, drawing the attention of Mr. President to the implications of Lawal’s statement on them and the Presidency.
The governor is said to have told the President that the northern leaders interpreted Lawal’s statement to mean that they do not like their Christian brother and sisters, a claim that has the potential to cause more crisis in the country.
A top source told Vanguard that Buhari, who was very uncomfortable with the statement, credited to the SGF, had summoned him as soon northern leaders came to lay their complaint and asked him to explain what he meant.
Buhari is said to be angry with Lawal for insinuating that it was the duo of Tinubu and Akande who recommended him for the post of the SGF when he (Buhari) did not even consult them before appointing him (Lawal) into the top position.
One source said that Buhari was so upset with Lawal that he might sanction him over the act which he considers as unexpected of a top public officer of his cadre given the tension such outburst was capable of generating in the country.
It was not immediately clear how Buhari intends to sanction Lawal as at the time of filing the report last night.
Efforts to speak with Lawal on the development proved abortive as calls to his mobile phone did not connect, suggesting that it might have been switched off.