Thursday, September 12, 2013

Gold IPhones: Jonathan Administration Back In Familiar Denial Mode

The government of Goodluck Jonathan on Wednesday evening again shifted
into denial mode as its damaged image suffered further humiliation
following the revelation it has ordered 53 gold Iphones to "celebrate"
Nigeria's 53rd anniversary next month.
First reported by The Independent newspaper of London yesterday, the
denial followed a new claim by Gold & Co, the company which first said
it got the order directly from the government, PREMIUM TIMES said this
In a twitter conversation with a Nigerian social activist, the
company, perhaps under pressure, seemed to back off a little bit from
its earlier claim.
"These have been ordered not by the government but by an individual
who is gifting them to people [in Nigeria] to celebrate [the
independence anniversary]" a tweet from Gold&Co said.
But Simon Usborne, who reported the story for The Independent, has
contradicted the company, asserting, "I can only confirm what the boss
of @goldandco told me." The reporter also suggested that Gold and Co
is trying to re-script the interview after the fact, perhaps in view
of the attention and angry reaction of Nigerians.
"Seems boss of @goldandco got carried away," Usborne tweeted. "He now
tells me a Nigerian individual – not the govt. – ordered 53
anniversary gold iPhones."
In plain English, that means the government, through one of its
officials, placed the mind-boggling order.
Phone calls and Text messages sent to President Jonathan's media aide,
Reuben Abati, by Saharareporters were unanswered.
However, President Jonathan's social media aide, Reno Omokri, seized
the sliver of opportunity. "Be advised that the story that the
Nigerian Government has ordered 53 Gold iPhones is false," he said.
There is no truth to the story whatsoever."
But neither Omokri nor anyone else identified the Nigerian that is
rich or patriotic enough to place a single order worth N662 million
from his own pocket, or what he hopes to get in return.
While the Minister of Information, Joseph Mutah, has conveniently
disappeared during the controversy, his Press Secretary stepped forth,
armed without facts, to deny the report.
"We have never heard of anything like that," he said, as if his ears
and the facts always match. "The story is utterly false and
mischievous, there is no any (sic) order like that at least by this
Nigeria's government under Mr. Jonathan labours under a heavy
credibility deficit, routinely issuing denials as it moves from one
bizarre controversy to another.
In October 2011, PT Pertamina, the Indonesian state company, announced
that it had signed a deal under which Nigeria would spend $2.6billion
to build three oil refineries in the country.
Once reported by the influential Jakarta Post, it was rapidly denied
by a spokesman in the Ministry of Petroleum Resources, who declared it
as fictitious without providing any facts.
While the Indonesian authorities insisted the story was true, the
Nigerian government never officially investigated it.
Only last month, a whistle-blower group sent a petition to the
Economic and Financial Crimes Commission accusing the Minister of
Petroleum Resources, Diezani Alison-Madueke, of squandering millions
of dollars of public funds in illegal rentals of private jets
allegedly for her official activities.
Following previous allegations by a variety of reporters and groups,
the group, "Crusaders for Good Governance" called for Ms.
Allison-Madueke to be investigated, saying that she spends as much as
$300,000 on an average international trip outside of Nigeria, and as
much as $500,000 on trips to places like China, Malaysia and North
American countries.
As is the normal practice, the EFCC, and the government, ignored the petition.

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