Jonathan Refutes Speaking To Moroccan King
Orders Investigations Into Source Of Information
Says Heads Must Roll
THE controversy surrounding the alleged telephone conversation between President Goodluck Jonathan and his Moroccan counterpart, King Mohammed Hassan VI, took another twist yesterday as the Presidency confirmed that the President never at any time spoke with the Moroccan King over any issue.
While the Presidency confirmed that it has spoken to some African leaders to solicit their support for the candidacy of Nigerian Agriculture Minister, Dr. Akinwunmi Adesina, for the Presidency of the African Development Bank (AfDB), it said the President is, however, yet to speak with King Hassan VI and President Mohamed Al-Sisi of Egypt.
In a statement in Abuja yesterday through his Special Adviser on Media and Publicity, Dr. Reuben Abati, the President said he was shocked and highly embarrassed about reports of him having conversations with the Moroccan King.
To demonstrate his seriousness, the President directed the Foreign Affairs Minister, Ambassador Aminu Wali, to order a full-scale investigation into the matter to determine the culpability of individuals in the telephone saga.
Coincidentally, it was the same minister that confirmed, through a statement on Tuesday this week, that indeed, the President spoke with the Moroccan monarch.
The statement made available to The Guardian on Tuesday by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs reads in part: “The Ministry has read with deep concern a report in sections of the print media citing an online source that King Mohammed IV of Morocco has snubbed President Goodluck Jonathan by refusing to speak to the President on phone.
“This information is absolutely not correct, as the President did in fact speak to the Moroccan monarch over phone. Since the King was in France and not in Morocco, both leaders spoke extensively over phone on matters of mutual interest and concern that have to do with the conduct of rescheduled elections in Nigeria.
“It is, therefore, preposterous to suggest that Mr. President’s phone call to the monarch was intended to confer any electoral advantage on the President.
“The Ministry wishes to appeal to the media to exercise greater restraint and circumspection in the use of foreign sources of news of developments in Nigeria.”
Following the government’s rebuttal that the Moroccan government did not snub Jonathan on the telephone conversation story, the Moroccan government again on Thursday insisted that there was no conversation between Jonathan and King Hassan V1.
But the statement by the presidential spokesman said: “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 AfDB.
“In continuation of his efforts in support of the candidacy of 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.
“President Jonathan has, therefore, ordered Wali to urgently undertake a full investigation of the claim, which emanated from the Ministry that the President spoke with King Mohammed VI,” Abati said.
The investigation is to identify all those 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 to “unveil the motives of the culprits”.
The statement added that while awaiting the outcome of the investigations, Jonathan urged 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 quest for victory at any price in the coming elections.”