by Hauwa Gambo
Yesterday, the Action Congress of Nigeria (ACN) called for President Goodluck Jonathan to be impeached by the National Assembly over what it referred to as the “soliciting of bribes” over the church donated by a government contractor to the president’s community. The Presidency immediately retorted, ridiculing the party and referring to the church as corporate social responsibility.
“Yes, a contractor who has worked and continues to work in Bayelsa State and other parts of Nigeria thought it fit, in fulfillment of its corporate social responsibility, to facilitate the renovation of the small church in the President’s home town of Otuoke,” said Dr. Reuben Abati, spokesman to the president.
(See details of the controversial church HERE)
(See the ACN’s original statement and the Presidency’s response HERE)
If they thought that would shut the ACN down, they thought wrong. In a statement today, ACN’s very vocal National Publicity Secretary, Lai Mohammed, referring to the explanation by the Presidency and the ruling party as the “worst form of crudity”, made it clear it finds the Presidency’s response beyond the pale. ”For the avoidance of doubt, there was nothing exculpatory in the pedestrian statements issued by the PDP and the Presidency,” it said. “Instead of employing facts – if they have any – to explain to Nigerians what they felt transpired, they resorted to name calling and endless ramblings.”
Calling Dr. Abati “increasingly confused and overwhelmed” and referring to the People’s Democratic Party spokesperson as a “greenhorn”, the statement renews the party’s call for the president’s impeachment: “Since the statements did not deny that the church in question was constructed or ‘renovated’ by a foreign construction firm taking contracts from the government and that the church is situated in the President’s community, and since they did not refute the statement credited to the President himself that he solicited and received the ‘gift’, then we are compelled to renew our call on the National Assembly to urgently launch impeachment proceedings against the President.”
It asks pointed questions of the purported social responsibility: ”What is this company’s track record of CSR in Bayelsa or any other state in Nigeria, where it has obtained billions of Naira in contracts? Why did the company choose the President’s village to do its CSR? Even if it is CSR, is it not a gift to the President’s community. What qualifies that community for this CSR above any other community? Assuming it was even legitimate CSR, shouldn’t the President see the obvious conflict of interest in a church where he worships being gratuitously renovated by a government contractor?
”The truth is that the President’s handlers are either grossly incompetent or are terribly overwhelmed by the demands of their office. Otherwise, they would have ensured that the President does not make statement that will put him in bad light. Had they done that, they would have saved themselves from having to issue, in regular intervals, statements that do no credit to the competence and professional standing of those who sign them.”