By Reuben Abati
We are dealing with such hideous and second rate characters in Nigeria’s public space, belonging to the ACN and the CPC, and that other would-be disaster-prone mongrel called APC that they won’t even respect the truth. The prize for being silly in this regard must go to one Rotimi Fashakin who describes himself as the National Publicity Secretary of the Congress for Progressive Change (CPC). He is an arm-chair critic per excellence and a medieval-era ignoramus.
In a release titled: “President Jonathan’s AU summit gaffe” (May 28) Rotimi displayed such habitual indolence and brainlessness that his heirs must be eternally ashamed of, and which I consider offensive and needlessly disruptive. His subject is the just-ended AU @ 50 Summit in Addis Ababa.
I invite more cerebral and decent persons to consider the facts. President Jonathan as the leader of the Nigerian delegation to the AU summit in Addis Ababa and the 50th anniversary of the Organization of African Unity (OAU) indeed put up a sterling performance, using the opportunity of the trip to further promote Nigeria’s interests and to strengthen Nigeria’s relationships with other countries. He held bilateral meetings with the UN Secretary General and the leaders of Jamaica, Egypt, Swaziland, Ghana, and Cote D’Ivoire. He granted interviews to the media, local and international. He also participated in a special session on HIV/AIDS, malaria and tuberculosis, at which he invited other world leaders to the Abuja+12 conference to be hosted in Nigeria, mid-June. President Jonathan is an accomplished diplomat and a responsible leader under whose watch, Nigeria’s foreign policy process and international relations have been strengthened with commendable results.
Fashakin, failing to do minimal research that any right-thinking person would attempt, jumps to the conclusion that President Jonathan missed his slot at the AU and that nobody represented him. This is more than 48 hours after I had issued a statement indicating that no slot was missed. Fashakin must be so busy he doesn’t even bother to read the news. No slot was missed because no country was under any compulsion to speak. Any country that wished to make a statement indicated the interest to do so, by pressing the button at its own convenience. Nigeria had indicated an interest to speak, but the President needed to attend an urgent ECOWAS meeting on the Lagos-Abidjan Highway, to be attended by five West African countries, to take a report by the Nigerian Minister of Works who is the chair of the regional inter-Ministerial body on the proposed Lagos-Abidjan Highway. I have since circulated the conclusions of that meeting.
While President Jonathan was attending that meeting, Ambassador Olugbenga Ashiru, the Minister of Foreign Affairs presented our statement to the OAU at 50 on President Jonathan’s behalf. I have also since circulated the full text of that statement. In other words, Nigeria’s voice was heard, loud and clear. Let it be noted that President Jonathan’s attendance of a meeting on the sidelines of the AU Summit was perfectly in order, and he attended quite a number, just as Minister Ashiru was not the only Foreign Minister who spoke on behalf of a President at the Summit. So where did Fashakin get his information from that nobody represented Nigeria?
The nature of his mental indolence is understandable. In this attempt to pull President Jonathan down at all costs, lies have become standard stuff, mischief a major commodity, and indecency a character flaw. President Jonathan does not owe anyone an apology for serving Nigeria diligently and truthfully. Fashakin’s reference to an incident in Australia is also wrong-headed because the allegation is false. In fact, in Australia, President Jonathan met with a broad range of investors in the mining sector and that has resulted in huge investments in the Nigerian mining sector. I consider the insinuation about inebriation, in Fashakin’s statement, amplified by his paid agents in other fora, as utterly disrespectful and foolish. They can’t certainly be talking about a President who is a well-focused man of achievement. By the same token, I consider the reference to Governor Rotimi Amaechi and the Nigeria Governors’ Forum in that statement as a red herring. Again, I advise Fashakin to read the newspapers so he can be abreast of developments, the only way he can get close to being an effective spokesperson. I had made it clear that President Jonathan has no hand in the Governors Forum crisis, and we stand by that position.
Our case is not rested. When next Fashakin comes to the public with unintelligent thoughts about President Jonathan, it shall remain our duty to continue to remind him of the need to think before talking.
Dr. Reuben Abati is Special Adviser (Media and Publicity) to Nigeria's President Goodluck Jonathan.