In an attempt to salvage President Goodluck Jonathan’s integrity after a PREMIUM TIMES investigation revealed that the president lied on a claim he made in his independence anniversary broadcast to the nation, the Federal Government on Tuesday said the president‘s claim was based on “notorious facts” provided in a newspaper article.
In his Independence Day speech, Mr. Jonathan scored his administration high on many fronts, despite the widely held believe among Nigerians that its performance had been abysmal.
In an apparent attempt to gain international goodwill, he further asserted that the global corruption watchdog, Transparency International, had endorsed his administration’s war against corruption.
“In its latest report, Transparency International noted that Nigeria is the second most improved country in the effort to curb corruption,” Mr. Jonathan had said in the broadcast.
However, in an email to PREMIUM TIMES, Transparency International said the president’s claim is untrue.
“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 Berlin-based organisation told this newspaper.
The presidency, in a statement released this morning, said the president‘s claim was based on “notorious facts” published by Nigeria’s BusinessDay newspaper.
Presidency sources say the president’s gaffe has caused panic among his speech writers and media aides regarding who should take responsibility for the misinformation.
The panic is also reflected in the official response, posted on the official website of the Federal Ministry of Information, and signed by a person who identified himself as Reno and did not indicate any official designation.
The Reno, who signed the statement, is believed to be Reno Omokri, Mr. Jonathan’s Special Assistant on New Media.
“As is the practise worldwide, we accept the premise that whatever is published in the media and goes unchallenged is the truth,” the statement said. “On this issue, the media published their synopsis of the most recent Transparency International report and BusinessDay, a well respected newspaper with bias for business reporting in a headline on the 12th of September 2012 with the titled (sic) “FG’s anti-corruption initiative impacts Nigeria’s global perception.”
The statement indicated that Mr. Jonathan’s advisers merely lifted an article from a newspaper without checking its accuracy and then gave it to the president to read to over 150 million Nigerians as independence anniversary day speech, televised on national television and possibly streamed on the Internet.
Reno added that since the BusinessDay report was not challenged by TI, it should be taken as a “notorious fact”.
“The President acted in good faith and his statement was based on notorious facts”.
The president’s aide then chided what he described as some “opposition leaning media houses” for casting “aspersions on the integrity of the President.”
“They lack ideas on how to move Nigeria forward and would rather snipe at the effort of the President to move the nation forward for which any patriot would do,” he said.
Find screenshot of full statement below. Click on it to read full statement.