Babangida – I did not write Jonathan

By IndepthAfrica
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Jan 30th, 2014
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Festus Owete

Kassim Afegbua expressed bitterness with a media organization for concocting the statement

Kassim Afegbua, the media aide to the Edo State Governor, Adams Oshiomhole, has disowned a statement he purportedly issued on behalf of former military president, Ibrahim Babangida on Wednesday.

Mr. Afebgua, who was Mr. Babangida’s publicist before he joined the Edo State government, said the former president did not authorize any statement expressing worry over some recent happenings in the polity, including the arrest and detention of the Deputy National Secretary of the All Progressives Congress, APC, Nasir El-Rufai.

The former president was also quoted in the purported statement as warning Mr. Jonathan to be careful with his advisers and sycophants, in and out of government, so that his focus, resilience, and perseverance would not be derailed.

“The happenings in the country in recent times call for worry if we must be sincere with ourselves,” Mr. Babangida, who ruled Nigeria between 1985 and 1993, was quoted as saying.

“Every day, the nation is treated with one form of political issue or the other. From security challenges to economic challenges, Nigerians are asking several questions that deserve responses from government at the various levels. Democracy is when it is a people-driven government with its fundamental principles of freedom of expression, freedom of association, rule of law, accountability, probity and equal representation amongst others.”

But Mr. Afegbua, in a statement on Wednesday evening, denied issuing any statement authorized by Mr. Babangida warning the president not to allow his aides mislead him.

The apparently furious aide to Mr. Oshiomhole described the attribution of the statement to him “as outright blackmail journalism and a sad commentary on journalism practice; a profession that I hold dear to my heart.”

“I wish to state unequivocally that I am currently working in Edo State as a Special Adviser to the Comrade Governor on Media and Public Affairs, a position which was expressly endorsed by my boss-for-life General IBB (Babangida).

“Let me also state without mincing words that I did not issue the said statement that is flying around the social media on behalf of IBB. Let me also declare with all the emphasis at my disposal that General IBB did not authorize anyone to issue any statement on his behalf let alone crediting same odious statement to me; Prince Kassim Afegbua,” he added.

Mr. Afegbua narrated that when his attention was drawn to the report, he called the local telephone number of the online publication that first published it, but did not get any response.

He said thereafter, he called its international line and a receiver on the other end, who refused to disclose his name, expressed shock at his complaint and assured that he would give instructions for the removal of the concocted lies from the site of the publication.

“When I called the local mobile telephone number of the online publication:08165076156, no one answered my several calls. In fact, the receiver from the other end was cutting my calls, Mr. Afegbua said.

“When I called the international number 00912407041545, a receiver from the other end who refused to disclose his name, expressed shock at my declaration. He did promise to instruct his co-conspirators to remove the tissue of concocted lies from their site. As at the time of writing this rebuttal, he has not done so,” Mr. Afegbua said

Read Mr. Babangida’s purported letter and Mr. Afegbua’s rebuttal below.

THE STATEMENT PURPORTEDLY AUTHRORISED BY IBRAHIM BABANGIDA

“The happenings in the country in recent times call for worry if we must be sincere with ourselves.

“Every day, the nation is treated with one form of political issue or the other. From security challenges to economic challenges, Nigerians are asking several questions that deserve responses from government at the various levels. Democracy is when it is a people-driven government with its fundamental principles of freedom of expression, freedom of association, rule of law, accountability, probity and equal representation amongst others.

“I will like to advise President Goodluck Jonathan to tread cautiously so that those sycophants in, and out of government will not derail his focus, resilience and perseverance. He needs all the comportment, resilience, perseverance, introspection and determination to be able to take the right decisions for the good of the country. The arrest and release of Mallam Nasir El-Rufai is a deliberate distraction which the President must run away from.

“He must avoid gambling with decisions and he must be willing to seek a third opinion on issues before he takes his decision. President Goodluck Jonathan must understand that there is a whole body of people out there who are not happy with happenings in the country. It is his responsibility as President of the country to reach out to them and make his mission understandable to the common man on the street so that they can buy into his government.

“If his body of advisers do not understand the temperament in the country and decide to embark on arresting and releasing people on very questionable allegations, they will be making enemies for the President instead of friends. The prerogative is that of the President and no one else.

“President Jonathan should as a matter of responsibility listens to voices of the opposition and or dissent, as he stands to gain experience and knowledge from their well-informed criticisms rather than build hostilities around them. He has to ensure that he minimizes and maximizes his discretionary powers in a manner that will not be subject of abuse.

“President Goodluck Jonathan must sit back, collect himself and carry out a critical self-appraisal before he takes his decisions. He is aware without mention, that the country is presently faced with several developmental challenges.

“Also, security agencies must avoid getting involved in political issues. Modern day security has evolved to a point where you do not require seeing gun-wielding Policemen on the streets. The ability to collate information and analyse same in a proactive manner will help improve the security situation in the country. We must carry out moral healing as well as political healing in the land.

“The President must make it a point of duty to reach out to people, groups and individuals with the sole purpose of selling his presidency. It is becoming instructive that the concept of winner-takes-all which has pervaded the system for so long may not flourish as such again.”

KASSIM AFEGBUA’S REBUTAL

OF STATEMENT CREDITED TO ME AND OTHER MATTERS.

My attention has just been drawn to a news story and statement purportedly credited to me with a blaring headline “Your Aides are misleading you; IBB warns Jonathan” published in one Global Village Extra, an online publication.

To state the least, this is outright blackmail journalism and a sad commentary on journalism practice; a profession that I hold dear to my heart.

I wish to state unequivocally that I am currently working in Edo State as a Special Adviser to the Comrade Governor on Media and Public Affairs, a position which was expressly endorsed by my boss-for-life General IBB. Let me also state without mincing words that I did not issue the said statement that is flying around the social media on behalf of IBB.

Let me also declare with all the emphasis at my disposal that General IBB did not authorize anyone to issue any statement on his behalf let alone crediting same odious statement to me; Prince Kassim Afegbua.

Even though General IBB has not officially appointed a Media Spokesman since I left, my acceptance of the offer of Special Adviser by my Governor automatically removes me from being General IBB’s Spokesman, a position I so cherished and a personality I so admire.

It is therefore bad journalism for one obscure, good-for-nothing, unprofessional platform such as the Global Villa Extra, to fabricate a statement and credit same to me, not only to mislead the public but cause disaffection amongst the personalities involved.

General IBB is a leader of leaders that I admire so much and one whose understanding of the delicate politics of the country is, in my honest view, unequalled.

I have been a very good student of his political school of thought since I met him till date and I will remain so till the end of time. It is not in his character to join issues with leaders in such pedestrian manner as reflected in the so-called statement credited to me.

This rebuttal becomes instructive to put the records straight and disabuse the minds of our numerous followers, friends and associates who may come across this statement in one way or the other.

It is also to remind the publisher[s] of Global Village Extra that journalism is a very serious profession that requires all the ethics, decorum and standard from all practitioners, but certainly not this category of naysayers, hirelings and journalistic-jobbers that are trying to mislead the public. When I called the local mobile telephone number of the online publication:08165076156, no one answered my several calls.

In fact, the receiver from the other end was cutting my calls.

When I called the international number 00912407041545, a receiver from the other end who refused to disclose his name, expressed shock at my declaration. He did promise to instruct his co-conspirators to remove the tissue of concocted lies from their site.

As at the time of writing this rebuttal, he has not done so.

I therefore wish to formally disown the said statement in part, whole and its entirety. It was neither authorized by me nor General IBB and should be so discountenanced. I wish to thank my reputable colleagues in the media who quickly saw through this statement as a piece of abhorrence and alerted me almost immediately.

May God continue to replenish your wisdom and deep sense of judgment.

THANK YOU.

PRINCE KASSIM AFEGBUA

SPECIAL ADVISER, MEDIA AND PUBLIC AFFAIRSTO THE EDO STATE GOVERNOR

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