Presidential Media Chat: Presidency officials accuse Jonathan of lying to Nigerians

President Goodluck Jonathan

Two officials of the Nigerian presidency have accused President Goodluck Jonathan of having “peddled falsehood” at Sunday’s presidential media chat.

The officials, who requested that their names be withheld so they are not victimized, rose in stout defence of presidential spokesman, Reuben Abati, who made policy announcements President Jonathan denied on Sunday.

“It has just struck some of us that this President is not an honourable man,” one of the officials said this morning. “I can confirm to you, and I think I should know, that the President approves every policy statement Dr. Abati releases to the media. It is shocking that he could say something different on TV.”

“We just can’t understand what came over the president,” another official fumed. “He told barefaced lies and a lot of us are ashamed to be working for him. It means when he asks us to do stuff, he could turn around to deny us tomorrow. It is unfortunate.”

Mr. Jonathan had on Sunday contradicted some policy announcements made to the media by his spokesperson.

During the media chat that lasted two hours, the president contradicted what his aides, particularly his Special Adviser on Media and Publicity, Reuben Abati, said on the issue of power, the first lady’s health, and security.

Power

On Wednesday, November 14, Mr. Abati released a press statement to the media on behalf of the president in which he said the president cancelled the transmission contract awarded to Manitoba.

“Mr. President has cancelled the Manitoba power contract with immediate effect,” Mr. Abati said in the statement, a claim Mr. Jonathan has denied.

“Manitoba contract has not been revoked,” the president said Sunday, explaining that his administration observed that the company “did not follow the law strictly,” when it got the contract.

Manitoba Hydro, a Canadian state-owned firm, emerged the highest bidder, in April, to manage Nigeria’s transmission network, under the Transmission Company of Nigeria, for three years.

But Mr. Abati later announced that the contract had been cancelled.

But when the matter was raised yesterday, Mr. Jonathan said the contract was never cancelled but is being regularized as due process was not fully followed in the award.

Presidential aides however said Mr. Jonathan ordered the contract cancelled, and then instructed Mr. Abati to release a statement on the matter.

Security

After reports emerged that a man claiming to be a spokesman for the dreaded Boko Haram made a call to journalists stating the group’s willingness to negotiate with the Federal Government under some conditions, Mr. Abati again said the government was already having some form of discussion with the Boko Haram group.

On Sunday, August 26, Mr. Abati told State House correspondents that the government was in talks with the Boko Haram through “backroom channels.”

“When government says it is already talking to Boko Haram, the form of that dialogue must be properly understood.

“The form of the dialogue is that backroom channels are being used to reach across with the sole objective of understanding what exactly the grievances of these persons are,” Mr. Abati said.

Three months later, on Monday November 12, Mr. Abati again confirmed to Punch Newspapers that the government was in talks with the sect.

“I can confirm to you that talks are ongoing at the background. But the talks are not the kinds being envisaged by Nigerians,” Mr. Abati said. “The ongoing talk is a back channel one in which those who know members of the group are talking with them on behalf of the government.”

President Jonathan dismissed Mr. Abati’s claims.

“There is no dialogue between the Boko Haram and government,” Mr. Jonathan said during the media chat.

“Boko Haram is still operating under cover, they wear masks, there is no face. They operate under cover. No dialogue that is going on anywhere,” Mr. Jonathan said.

Patience’s illness

The President also confirmed that the first lady, Patience Jonathan, was ill and treated abroad contrary to presidential aides’ claims that she only travelled abroad to rest.

Ayo Osinlu, a media aide to Mrs. Jonathan, told journalists on September 3 that the First Lady was not sick but travelled out of the country to take a “moment’s rest.”

“If you look at her itinerary in August, you would be wondering how she was able to accomplish that. In the course of this week, she will be back home. But remember, it all depends on her plans,” Mr. Osinlu told Punch Newspapers.

Mr. Abati also denied the first lady’s illness describing it as a rumour.

“(Illness story) was a rumour and there is nothing like that,” Mr. Abati said.

During the presidential media chat on Sunday, Mr. Jonathan refuted the claims by both officials.

“She was ill, she received treatment,” Mr. Jonathan said of his wife’s trip to Germany.

“When she returned, she had to further recuperate,” the president said while explaining the first lady’s seeming absence from public glare since her arrival in the country on October 17.

But presidential officials who spoke to us said it was the same Mr. Jonathan who instructed Messrs Osinlu and Abati not to confirm his wife’s illness to the media.


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  • crazy boi

    hehehehehe

  • Lade

    What a president we got …

  • Olumide

    Must we politize every thing ?

  • Toyin

    I think Mr President was very truthful yesterday.

    • Enemona

      If that’s the case, his advisers must be big liars. They’ve come out to contradict their boss, our courageous!

  • charles johnson

    I really do not see any contradictions between what the President said and what his spokesman have been saying. The only difference is that its not same person that are saying it. The president cannot come on air to comfirm that he is discussing with a faceless terrorist gang.Also he stated very clearly why the contract for the transmission stuff was put on hold. About his wife,s health, he may have wanted to tell Nigerians by himself instead of his aides saying it.

    • Good defence from villa courtiers.

    • NAGODI

      THEN ABATI SHOULD ALSO NOT COME OUT IN PUBLIC AND SAY THE GOVT IS TALKING THROUGH THE BACK CHANNELS WITH A FACELESS TERRORISTS GANG. ABOUT HIS WIFE, HIS AIDES SHOULD HAVE TOLD NIGERIANS TO WAIT FOR THE PRESIDENT TO TELL THEM HIMSELF, NOT SAY THAT SHE WENT TO GERMANY TO REST. THE PRESIDENT DID NOT SAY THE MANITOBA CONTRACT IS PUT ON HOLD GET YOUR FACTS RIGHT.

    • Enemona

      Yes genius. You’re right, it means the same thing: cancelling and withholding. Sick and resting, they all mean the same thing, this was confirmed by my dictionary. Well done!

    • baba

      You are shameless. Please go hide yourself like Boko Haram!

  • igbiki

    Is Mr Abati thinking of resigning for being radiculed by the president, NO and never, till sack do them part.

  • Ok. This is Politics.

  • afam_4real23

    THE EDITORS OF THIS MEDIA HOUSE WILL REGRET THIS PARTISAN JOURNALISM THEY ARE DOING,GEJ WAS VERY CAREFUL YESTERDAY BECAUSE SOME OF THIS JUNK NEWSPAPERS JUST LIKE PREMIUM AND PM HAVE VOW TO TURN EVERY THING HE SAID UPSIDE DOWN AT ANY GIVING TIME.

    • Enemona

      The simple question is did the advisers say something different from what the president said? It’s that simple. If they were contradictory then do not blame this paper.

    • Innocent

      Mr. Afam you are always lying behind the TRUTH…becareful..

    • Tell us what the papers turned ‘upside down’. The aides said something and the president a different thing. How do you blame the papers on that? Or you rather have them not report the contradiction?

  • Paul Eris

    There is nothing wrong whatsoever, no reasonable President could come out openly to say he is negotiating through back door channels with a terrorist group. I want to mentain that some of his media aides are running too fast, as a result of high service. Not everything in Gov’t is said on open grounds, & they should learn from the Americans.

    • Zukoko

      Nigerians why can’t we for once be honest with ourselves,some of these guys defending the president for what soever reason should go bury their faces,they should remember that there will be Nigeria after Jonathan,their children will be nigerians,will they are future tell their kids that they contributed to the destruction of the nation? Or that they defend one of the most corrupt and inept president in the world,Jonathan is not only a weak leader but the most corrupt and untrustworthy person.today Nigeria is basically at war,all the major institutions have collapsed ,we simply don’t have leaders

  • i dont believe any of the stories. period. if the officials are truely ashamed of working for him, why afraid of revealing their names? come out boldly and be sacked. thiefs!!!make una leave jonathan alone.

  • …we like to contradict issues when it is said in simple term……both mr.president and his aids are saying the same thing.

    • Enemona

      Exactly, same thing. Saying a contract has been cancelled and a contract is to be reviewed means same thing. Saying someone has traveled to seek medical attention and saying no, she just went to rest after a hectic schedule is ‘the same thing’. What can I say? Same thing; Nigerians deserve the state they are in, people have lost their ways; they see white and cal it back and then see black and call it white.

      • Lubem

        Enemona, you are simply an unpatriotic fellow. I don’t what you may want to bequeath to your family and by extension your community or nation as a legacy…..But you are supposed to be more knowledgeable fellow hence you have access to an internet facility; which is a vast reservoir of knowledge

        • Enemona

          You’ve said nothing. I’ve made my statement, which part don’t you agree with? Please refute it. It’s that simple…. no need to force and fight.

      • Ngozi

        enemona why are you fighting Peter, the case solved it self if the officials are not ghost official why do they hide. you are just like them who do not like the truth

        • Enemona

          Hey, I’m not fighting Peter, how do you define ‘fight’? Read my post again, which part don’t you agree with? The part that I said the President statements do not contradict that of his advisers? The part that shows that the president words are exact synonyms to those of his advisers? Yes, we all now know the truth and we are happy with our president and his advisers, you can see my smile :). Yes, you like the ‘truth’ and the president gave you overdose of it yesterday, didn’t we all hear him?

  • Patrick Luu

    The reporter here has taken so much time to simply gush out what was going on in his mind. My belief, which is 100% is that, no government official told him anything to that effect. All that has been said here is a figment of the writer’s imagination.

    I believe that, inspite of the challenges that the country is grappling with, no one should be made to believe that this administration is the one that single handedly created it or them.

    A lot has been achieved in the country since the the Goodluck administration came on board. For example, Nigerians now enjoy light for more hours than ever.
    Also, the war against corruption has intensified just as war against economic saboteurs have been impressive. Equally education, agriculture, trades and investment as well as war against terror is now done with more vigour…among several other things….

    • baba

      Yes, all what the newspapers report are lies, including what Mr. Jonathan said! Yes, Mr. President is seriously fighting corruption and that is why Nigeria is now 2nd on the world corruption list! Congrats, Villa’s mouthpiece.!!!!!!!!!

  • igboham

    people who describe their president in those words are morally bankrupt and should not occupy. the offices they have. This cowardly and dishonourable behavior should not be acceptable and must be condemned

  • I believe that two are better than one. We should please believe, and think as well that we can make a change to our country Nigeria. This is not a situation for the president alone, but, for all of us as citizens of Nigeria as a nation. Because all these blames on the president will not solve the problems for the nation. I believed that, if anyone can take the boldness and talk to the president on how to Improve the situations we are facing now? I surely, believe that Nigeria will be a better place. God will always bless my country Nigeria, and God bless you all, as a nation.
    I

  • GEJ is a liar, a corrupt and immoral person whom as president is currently presiding over the greatest looting of the country’s wealth, and yet some people who out of ethnic bigotry or epic stupidity and sentiments have refused to see anything wrong with it. As the C-in-C of Nigeria, the president knows who the sponsors of terrorism/boko haram are, he knows those who were involved in the fuel subsidy scams, he made promises during his campaigns and is yet to keep any, all these makes him GEJ a liar and a man no to be trusted. And to those who have turned themselves into “GEJ attack dogs” on this forum, it will interest you to know that i supported and voted for GEJ but it soon became quite obvious that i made an epic mistake, the same with millions of other Nigerians who are complaining about him, so when next you start attacking others for expressing their views, bear that in mind before you put up your Muppet show.

  • Well, all I believed is that Nigerian’s problems are just difficult to solve, if we the citizens can not stand before the president and help the matters.The President is just a leader, and we can stand on our feet and make a better change for the country as well. I don’t believe that, all these will help the matters, except, we let our voices to the president know. God bless Nigerians!

  • beegee

    i really dont understand all this argument…the paper has let us know that we have been told lies, either by the president or his advisers. they have even gone ahead to illustrate the exact words both party used,…whats so difficukt to understand? we have been lied to, and this is an irresponsible govt!

  • benson tamino

    I don’t see anyting wrong in wath mr president said. We just heard from the horses mouth so we have to accept it as the truth why do nigerians like to insult our one president on air. Wether we like it or not he is the only president we can call our own.