Ambassador Ousmane Yara, the Guinean Ambassador to the African Union, has provided an exclusive interview to the Daily Sun on the controversial viral video of President-elect, Asiwaju Bola Tinubu and Lagos State Governor, Babajide Sanwo-Olu, in a Guinean government-owned helicopter.
Yara explained that the video was taken during Tinubu’s visit to Guinea in 2016 as a guest of then President Alpha Conde during the country’s independence anniversary celebration. Tinubu’s relationship with Conde and how Tinubu got recognised as an ambassador extraordinaire (special envoy) of Guinea by Conde was also explained by Yara.
Yara disclosed that in 2015, Tinubu hosted President Conde in Lagos, following which, Conde invited Tinubu to Guinea about a month before the 2015 election for his second term in office.
Tinubu arrived in Guinea with a team of economic experts and businessmen who spent a day discussing with Guinean government officials how to better harness its resources for economic prosperity and development.
Conde, thrilled by Tinubu’s support for his reelection and for bringing the team that worked with Guinean officials to chart an economic and development agenda, invited Tinubu to the independence anniversary in 2016. Tinubu was then required to fly from Guinea’s capital to Mamu in the Fula region of the country, where that year’s event held.
At the independence anniversary celebration, President Conde gave Tinubu the honour and privilege of a president, in appreciation of what he did for him during his reelection bid and towards economic development of Guinea. In order to show appreciation to Tinubu, Conde gave him a “Special Envoy” status, recognising him as a pan-Africanist and seeing him as a special envoy.
Yara clarified that governments extend honorary citizenship to important people who may not be their citizens as a mark of recognition of their contributions to socio-economic and political developments in the countries, which does not make such persons citizens of the countries.
Yara added that Tinubu’s friendship with Conde is not strange, as individuals and politicians all over the world have presidents as friends. Many Nigerian politicians and businessmen were friends with Conde when he was in power, including former Vice President Atiku Abubakar and President Muhammadu Buhari, who hosted the former president in Abuja.
In a video call, former President Conde corroborated Yara’s statements, explaining that he saw Tinubu as a ‘Lion of Africa’ because of his contributions towards the stability and development of Africa.
He confirmed that he recognised Tinubu as an ambassador extraordinaire (special envoy) of Guinea and expressed confidence in Tinubu’s ability to do well as president, noting that Nigeria is a country other West African nations look up to.