|OFFICIAL MISINFORMATION: President Jonathan Says, ‘I Didn’t Speak With Moroccan King’|
President Goodluck Jonathan on Friday [Mar. 13] admitted that he has not at anytime engaged King Mohammed VI of Morocco in a telephone conversation as claimed by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs. He said he had also not told anybody that he spoke with the Moroccan monarch.
Jonathan made the clarification in a statement by his Special Adviser on Media and Publicity, Dr. Reuben Abati.
There is an ongoing diplomatic row between Nigeria and Morocco over whether Jonathan recently engaged the king in a telephone conversation or not. While the Ministry of Foreign Affairs issued a statement claiming that Jonathan spoke with the Moroccan king, authorities of the kingdom denied the claim and thereafter recalled their ambassador to Nigeria.
Abati, in the statement on Friday [Mar. 13], said Jonathan was highly embarrassed by the controversy that erupted over the incident. He attributed the furore over the matter to the misinformation by the ministry. The presidential spokesman said although the President asked the ministry to arrange telephone conversations between him and King of Morocco, the President of Algeria and the President of Egypt, he had yet to speak with the Moroccan monarch.
He said, “President Goodluck Ebele Jonathan is shocked, surprised and highly embarrassed by the controversy that has erupted over whether or not he had a telephone conversation with His Majesty, King Mohammed VI of Morocco. The regrettable furore that has developed over the matter is due entirely to misinformation as President Jonathan has neither spoken with King Mohammed or told anybody that he had a telephone conversation with the Moroccan Monarch.
“It is true that President Jonathan has been speaking with some African leaders to seek their support for Nigeria’s candidate for the position of President of the African Development Bank. In continuation of his efforts in support of the candidacy of the Minister of Agriculture, Dr. Akinwunmi Adesina, for headship of the AfDB, President Jonathan indicated that he would like to speak with the King of Morocco, the President of Algeria and the President of Egypt.
“The Ministry of Foreign Affairs was consequently directed to make necessary contacts with the embassies of the three countries and arrange for President Jonathan to speak with their leaders. Since that directive was given, President Jonathan has spoken with the Prime Minister of Algeria and subsequently sent Vice President Namadi Sambo to Algiers as Special Envoy to follow-up on his discussions with the Algerian Prime Minister on support for Nigeria’s candidate in the coming elections for the AfDB Presidency.
“The President has, however, not yet spoken with King Mohammed VI and President Al-Sisi of Egypt as the Ministry of Foreign Affairs must know.”
Abati said the President had consequently directed the Minister of Foreign Affairs, Ambassador Aminu Wali, to carry out a full investigation aimed at identifying those behind the statement that he spoke with King Mohammed and their motives. He added that the President had ordered that commensurate disciplinary action be taken against the culprit(s).
He added, “President Jonathan has therefore ordered the Minister of Foreign Affairs, Ambassador Aminu Wali, to urgently undertake a full investigation of the claim which emanated from the Ministry that the President spoke with King Mohammed VI. The investigation is to identify all those who were responsible for the unacceptable act of official misinformation which has resulted in an unnecessary diplomatic row with another country and national embarrassment.
“It is also expected to unveil the motives of the culprits. President Jonathan has also ordered that prompt and commensurate disciplinary action be taken against the culpable person or persons. While awaiting the outcome of the investigations, President Jonathan urges Nigerians to disregard the vituperations of opposition elements, who have, true to type, latched on to the regrettable faux pas as a fresh opportunity to unpatriotically denigrate the government of their country and advance their irresponsible quest for victory at any price in the coming elections.”
He said the investigation was expected to start immediately and there was no specific time frame for the exercise. When asked why the minister did not take responsibility for the national embarrassment instead of pushing it to his subordinates, Abati said he does not speak for the minister but the President.