The Presidency has refuted the allegation by the Nigerian Bar Association (NBA) that President Goodluck Jonathan rejected a minority report of the Presidential Advisory Committee on national conference.
A statement issued by Dr Reuben Abati, the Special Adviser to the President, Media and Publicity in Abuja, stated that the claim made the NBA National President, Okey Wali on Wednesday “is untrue and incorrect.’’
Abati stated that the President was not aware of the existence of a minority report supposedly prepared by a member of the committee, Solomon Asemota, adding that Asemota was personally present at the submission of the committee report to the President on Dec. 18, 2013.
He recalled the statement by the Chairman of the committee, Sen. Femi Okurounmu in the presence of Asemota, denying media report on the existence of any minority report.
Abati quoted Okunrounmu as saying that “before concluding my address, Mr President, I want to make one or two comments about some newspaper reports to the effect that there is a minority report of our Committee.
“We have so far refrained from commenting on these reports because we consider it politically-indiscreet and a grave violation of protocol for anyone to be commenting on a report that is yet to be formally submitted.
“Now that our report is before you, Mr President, I say quite emphatically, that we have no minority report.’’
Abati noted that Asemota raised no objection to the comments by Okurounmu and made no effort whatsoever to present any dissenting minority report to the President at the event.
“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.’’
The special adviser said that the President did not at any time interfere in the deliberations of the Committee and had no reason to reject a minority report, if it existed.
“The Presidency will like to reassure the NBA that this 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 NBA 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,” he said.