From Alhaji Lai Mohammed
The Action Congress of Nigeria (ACN) has said Steve Oronsaye and
Bernard Otti were the ones who insulted President
Goodluck Jonathan by the way they turned the presentation of the
report of the Petroleum Revenue Special Task Force
into a theatre of the absurd last Friday.
In a statement issued in Lagos on Monday by its National Publicity
Secretary, Alhaji Lai Mohammed, the party said the presidency also condoned the insult by the way it handled the men’s
outburst, treating them with kid gloves when they should
have been censured for their audacity and discourteous behaviour at
the public presentation.
”Oronsaye’s incredibly audacious statement, that ‘the President has
asked us to submit the report….and so what?’ should have elicited the reaction which the presidency issued to ACN’s statement,
if indeed the presidency is concerned about insults,”
ACN said the presidency is trying to blackmail the opposition by now
accusing it of insulting the President, for merely saying the
obvious, that the only reason Oronsaye and Otti could have acted in
such a brazen manner with the President seated right there
is if they were indeed programmed to perform the role of spoilers by
discrediting the report.
”President Jonathan is a democratically-elected President, not an
oracle who cannot and must not be criticised. Therefore,
we at the ACN will continue to offer a constructive criticism of his
administration, true to our role of providing responsible
”We stand by our statement and will not be cowed by this old, cheap
trick of labelling constructive criticism as an insult,”
ACN said, challenging the presidency to deny the facts contained in
the party’s earlier statement on the issue.
”Let’s restate the facts, for the avoidance of doubt: One, Oronsaye
and Otti were already serving on the task force before they were
given the plum NNPC jobs. Two, the Federal Government could have
waited for them to complete their assignment before giving them
suspicious appointments, if only to avoid possible conflict of interest or any perception of such. Three, the men could have resigned
their membership of the task force after they got themselves the NNPC
jobs. And four, they could have written a minority report when
they disagreed with the conclusion of the task force, instead of
choosing the presentation venue to discredit the report.
”These are the facts that the presidency, through the chameleonic
presidential spokesman Reuben Abati, should have addressed,
instead of resorting to name calling. In any case, we are not
surprised at Abati’s metamorphosis. With his snout now deeply inserted in the nectar of office, criticisms have turned to insults in his eyes.
ACN said this is the same Abati who, in his newspaper column before
fortune smiled on him, regularly tackled sitting Presidents with his
”In one of such, entitled ‘The President’s missing ears’, he wrote of
then President Umaru Yar’Adua: ‘Men Without Ears is the title of a
1984 novel by Nigerian writer, Ifeoma Okoye. With due respect,
President Umaru Yar’Adua is beginning to behave like a man without
Being without ears refers to a certain obduracy, a peculiar inability
to appreciate the truth. I see the same problem in the Yar’Adua
presidency, seven months down the line.
Abati went further: ”The President either needs the services of an
ear doctor (I am sorry sir) or he needs to listen a bit more
attentively. There are issues in this country which need to be
addressed urgently, which the government is treating with kid
ACN said since Abati apparently did not believe that the article under
reference contained any insult against then President Yar’Adua, it is
disingenuous of him to keep haranguing critics of his boss for insulting him.