Right of reply: Sahara Reporters on 'Culture of Waste and Insensitivity' and the 18th AU Summit
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I observe that you have made no effort, following my earlier explanations, to amend your story titled 'Culture of Waste And Insensitivity Continues As Mrs. Jonathan Arrives Addis Ababa With 32 Aides' (Sahara Reporters), and have allowed your readers to rely
on deliberate misinformation. The story in question does not reflect the true state of affairs with regard to the President's delegation to the 18th annual African Union (AU) Summit in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia. I therefore want to set the records straight by making the following observations:
1. There is only one Nigerian Delegation to this summit not two as your report suggests. Specifically, the First Lady, Dame Patience Jonathan, has no delegation, official or unofficial, to this summit, and she did not arrive in Addis Ababa with '32 aides.'
2. You correctly reported that Mr. President travelled with a '25-person delegation to Addis Ababa for the 18th African Union Summit' but after salting your story with a dash of hype and peppering it with innuendo you have managed to cook up the impression that there are 57 Nigerian delegates in Addis Ababa. This is not fair.
3. The Nigerian Entourage list contains 35 names in total, however three of those whose names are listed did not join the delegation and the total number of delegates in Addis Ababa is not more than 32. This includes two Senators (the Chair of the Senate committee on NEPAD and another member), a member of the House of Representatives (NEPAD House of Reps), essential aides of the First couple, and Foreign Ministry Officials. Mr. President meant every word of it when he said that only persons who have work to do will be allowed to travel, officially.
4. As you well know, Nigeria is a free country; President Jonathan cannot prevent Nigerians from travelling to Ethiopia or anywhere else without good reason, legal sanction or authority. If there are other Nigerians in Addis Ababa, they are certainly not official delegates, and they have nothing to do with the First Lady.
5. It has become Sahara Reporters' favourite sport to taint and bait President Jonathan with hooks and details that are inconvenient with the truth. You do your readers and Nigeria no favours by this shrill and deliberate misrepresentation of information.
6. President Jonathan remains committed to the Constitution he swore to protect and defend. You have a responsibility to report the truth.
Special Adviser to the President (Media and Publicity)
January 29, 2012