The presidency has denied that President Goodluck Jonathan refused to receive a minority report of the Presidential Advisory Committee on the proposed national conference, an allegation reportedly made by the President of the Nigerian Bar Association (NBA), Mr. Okey Wali.
According to a press statement by presidential spokesman Reuben Abati today, Mr. Jonathan is unaware of the existence of a minority report that was supposedly prepared by a member of the Committee, Chief Solomon Asemota.
He recalled that Chief Asemota himself was present at the submission of the committee’s report to the President on December 18, 2013, and on that occasion quoted the Chairman, Senator Femi Okurounmu, as denying the existence of a minority report.
“As everyone, including representatives of the media who were present at the occasion will attest, Chief Asemota raised no objection to the foregoing comments by Senator Okurounmu and made no effort whatsoever to present any dissenting minority report to the President,” the statement said.
It added that there was therefore never any issue of President Jonathan refusing to receive such a minority report from Chief Asemota and the Presidency is completely unaware of any factual basis for the claim by the NBA President to that effect.
“Mr. Wali’s castigation of President Jonathan’s purported rejection of a minority report is consequently unfair, based as it is, on a wrong premise,” it said. “President Jonathan did not at any time interfere in the deliberations of the Presidential Advisory Committee on the National Conference and he had no reason to reject a minority report, if it exists and was ever offered to him.”
The presidency reassured the NBA that the administration is guided in all instances by democratic principles; the idea of a National Conference being in itself a loud evidence in this regard.
“We invite the Nigeria Bar Association and other professional bodies to support the administration’s efforts to strengthen our democratic process. Criticisms of such efforts can only be useful when they are constructive and based on facts.”