The latest presidential gaffe: President Jonathan’s aides scramble to defend him over his Independence Day ‘lie’

by Stanley Azuakola

President Goodluck Jonathan’s Independence day speech is being panned by the media over a claim he made which has now been confirmed as false.

In his speech, the president attempted to buttress his point that the nation was doing well in fighting corruption by alluding to a ‘non-existent’ Transparency International (TI) report. He claimed that TI had rated the nation as the second most improved country in the fight against corruption.

Nigerians, who haven’t really felt such great improvement in the war against corruption immediately sought clarification from TI. In an email to a newspaper, TI debunked the president’s claims, saying that, “Transparency International does not have a recent rating or report that places Nigeria as the second most improved country in the fight against corruption.”

The president’s media team and the Ministry of Information immediately began mounting a push back. In a statement, they placed the blame for the president’s gaffe squarely at the feet of the Business Day newspaper.

In a statement released on the Ministry of Information website and signed by Reno Omokri, a presidential aide in the office of the Special Adviser to the President on Research, Documentation and Strategy, Oronto Douglas, claimed that the president’s statement was based on notorious facts from Business Day.

Nigerians, who were expecting an apology from President Jonathan were disappointed to see that rather than that, the president looped the opposition as the force behind the outcry over the president’s untruth.

Interestingly, the Transparency International’s report which was quoted by the president was released in 2011, even before the elections which brought the president into power. He had however been president by then for a few months, following the death of the late President Umaru Yaradua.

Read the full statement by Mr. Reno Omokri below:

Our attention has been drawn to reports from some opposition leaning media houses alleging that Mr. President made some false claims about Nigeria’s standing in this year’s Transparency International anti corruption rating.

As is the practice worldwide, we accept the premise that whatever is published in the media and goes unchallenged is the truth. On this issue, the media published their synopsis of the most recent Transparency International report and BusinessDay, a well respected newspaper with a bias for business reporting in a headline on the 12th of September 2012 with the titled ‘FG’s anti-corruption initiative impacts Nigeria’s global perception’ said “The survey on global corruption perceptions for 2011 versus 2001 showed that the third best improvement in the world was in Nigeria, with its score improving by 1.5 points”.

The above quoted comments were relied upon in coming to the conclusion that Mr. President honestly came to in good faith. To this day, Transparency International has not disputed the findings of BusinessDay.

For a section of the opposition to now cast aspersions on the integrity of the President when he relied on notorious facts (anything published in the press and which remains unchallenged is a notorious fact) is proof positive of the now obvious fact that they  lack ideas on how to move Nigeria forward and would rather snipe at efforts of the President to move the nation forward for which any patriot would do.

In conclusion the President acted in good faith and his statement was based on notorious facts and are evidenced by recent breakthroughs in fighting corruption in the oil industry where subsidy fraud suspects are already facing trial as well as in the Agricultural Sector where decades old corrupt practices in the fertilizer distribution network have been eradicated via the voucher system which cuts off the middle man.


One comment

  1. It is so pathetic that all these disappointments are coming at a time when hope is so high, the yearnings for change is unbeatable, and the aspirations of the people is peak. The President seems to have lost the clue on good governance, and the aides are not helping matters. There is no need for arrogancy, only God is infallible, so they should learn to apologise when mistakes are made. That would earn them more respect in the eyes of the public and even the opposition than all of these dance of shame. Let me remind Oronto Douglas and Mr President that you can fool some people sometimes, but you cannot fool all people at all time. We can still endure, so they should go ahead to ride us, subsidy is gone, N5000 has followed, but time will come that we'll shock Aso Rock that we are not coward.

    A word is enough for the wise.

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