The presidency described the report as ‘laughable.’
The Presidency has denied allegations that the First Lady, Patience Jonathan, influenced the suspension of Rivers State Governor, Rotimi Amaechi, by the National Working Committee of the People’s Democratic Party, PDP.
It described as ‘laughable’ reports that the first lady handed the suspension instruction to the National Working Committee of the PDP, which suspended the Rivers Governor.
The Special Assistant to Mrs. Jonathan on Media, Ayo Osinlu claimed the report was a calculated attempt to sustain Mr. Amaechi’s travails in public domain, as well as to explore the possibility of keeping public sympathy in his favour.
Although she has no constitutional powers, Nigerian first ladies are known to wield tremendous influence over state and party organs and are considered most powerful outside of the president.
Mr. Amaechi has been having a running battle with the PDP leadership and the presidency over his stance on major national issues.
Though recently elected as Chairman of the Nigeria Governors Forum, NGF, the loser in the election, Jonah Jang of Plateau, allegedly with the backing of the presidency, has declared himself chairman. The Rivers Governor was suspended by the PDP days after his re-election as NGF chairman.
Even before his present travails, he had had an exchange of words with the first lady, who is from Rivers State, over some of his policies in the state.
The full statement by Mr. Osinlu reads: “It has again come to our notice that a new twist has been introduced to the carefully orchestrated scheme to anchor the political fortunes or survival of certain embattled politicians on a deliberate demonization of the First Lady, Dame (Dr.) Patience Goodluck Jonathan.
“This new twist came by way of a so-called “investigation” reported on the front page of today’s, 30/05/2013, Leadership newspaper.
“According to the report, the First Lady, as characteristic these days, is being alleged to have influenced the suspension of Governor Rotimi Amaechi from the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) by the National Working Committee (NWC) of the party.
“We consider it laughable that it can be assumed by any sane person that the First Lady could possibly “summon” the members of the NWC of the party for the purported purpose of handing down “stern directives” on crucial party decisions.
“We ask, on what platform? Within what contexts? In what capacity? Is it not an unfortunate insult on all the elders that constitute the NWC to insinuate that they were assembled by the First Lady, or anyone else for that matter, and instructed on positions of the party? And why couldn’t Leadership’s “investigators” name at least a few of those in attendance of this famous meeting?
“We consider it a most unbecoming insolence, to say the least DISRESPECTFUL, of any one to suggest that the whole of the Peoples Democratic Party was led by the nose and influenced by a private interest, in a matter that so evidently borders on party discipline and administration.
“Only recently, we were compelled to make a statement, warning those who have become specialists in looping their self-induced political travails around the First Lady, to develop another strategy for their survival.
“This was when another vicious lie was circulated that Her Excellency had, again, “summoned” service chiefs in Rivers State, and instructed them to be firmer in handling the Rivers matter.
“Let us state once again, that the First Lady is not an elected official of state, neither is she a party functionary. She therefore recognizes very clearly her place in the scheme of things and acts always accordingly within context.
“In our safe estimation, the whole of this is a conscious calculation to sustain the issue of Governor Amaechi in full public view, as well as to explore the possibility of keeping public sympathy in his favour.
“While we have no challenges with the Amaechi camp struggling for political survival and relevance, we wish to state categorically our strong objection to the wicked use of the name and profile of the First Lady in the process.
“For us this is not only dubious, but also diversionary, unfair, unkind, and therefore totally unacceptable.
“We wish to warn that if this trend continues in the near and distant future, we may be constrained to take action within legally permissible limits to protect the integrity of the office and person of the First Lady”.