Bolaji Abdullahi

Yinka Olatunbosun

Ake in Lagos, a literary talk session series which debuted in Lagos recently featured as guest the former Minister of Sports and spokesperson for All Progressives Congress (APC), Mr. Bolaji Abdullahi. His latest book titled, ‘On the Platter of Gold’ has caused some stir in the polity as it documents the personal account of the final days of President Goodluck Jonathan administration and events leading to the minister’s sack in 2014.

In spite of his success story of returning glory to Nigerian football team at the African Nations’ Cup in 2014, and active social engagement with the public, Abdullahi’s vision for the sports in Nigeria which began in July 2011 was cut short. Hence, with the release of his controversial book, ‘On A Platter of Gold’, the organisers of the Ake Book and Arts Festival selected the veteran journalist, Kunle Ajibade as the moderator for the session.

After reading a few excerpts from his book, Abdullahi recounted the circumstances surrounding his exit from the office of the Minister of Sports.

“We went to Ilorin for a rally. As a minister from the state, I was supposed to take the lead in organising the event in Ilorin. When I got there, I was expected to make a speech to denounce Saraki for his move to APC. That was the reason for my sack. My training and upbringing would not let me do that

“Later, I went to UK to see my daughter. I managed to teach her something about loyalty. And for the first time, I cried about it. Anyone reading the book will know that the situation placed a lot of burden on me. But in writing the book, I tried to be objective,’’ he explained.

After Goodluck Jonathan lost the presidential election, Abdullahi started writing the book. He had access to all those who were part of the Jonathan presidency but he was not planning a revenge book.

“I thought I should write it for posterity’s sake. To score a political point with this book will be a monumental waste.”

He admitted that he may have missed up a few timelines but certainly the facts he presented in the book are verifiable. On his view of Boko Haram insurgence in the book, he sought to capture the varying perspectives on the terror group.

“Boko Haram is an extensive investigation that I had to do. Jonathan was made to believe that it was not a security situation but a political machination. Boko Haram was a case of civic resistance gone bad. It was never violent until one of their leaders was killed. Conspiracy theories do not substitute for hard facts,’’ he maintained.

Meanwhile, when asked to make an appraisal of the Buhari administration from the point of view of a conscientious writer, he remarked that the herdsmen situation, if not decisively dealt with, is a serious threat to a reelection.
Abdullahi infused some humour in the book reading session and responses to questions from the audience which included young writers, media and other professionals.