The presidency has branded the spokesman of the opposition Action Congress of Nigeria, Lai Mohammed, a liar, after the party linked the presidency with the scandalous episode at the presentation of the report of the Petroleum Revenue Task Force to President Goodluck Jonathan Friday.
The ACN had issued a statement through its Publicity Secretary, Lai Mohammed, accusing the presidency of having an ulterior motive in setting up the Petroleum Revenue Task Force headed by Nuhu Ribadu and also, of “deliberately sabotaging” the Task Force.
“Nothing can be farther from the truth,” Reuben Abati, spokesman to President Jonathan, said.
Mr. Abati said ACN’s position on the matter “falls into a familiar pattern by the party and its lying Lai,” to insult the president.
Mr. Abati accused the opposition of politicizing the drama that played out during the presentation of the task force’s report, where some members of the task force openly disagreed over the methodology the task force used in arriving at its recommendations.
He said the opposition and its “lying Lai” are latching on the drama to gain “cheap advantages where they need not do so.”
“The Presidency deplores the attempt by the ACN to accuse it of having had a hand in the open dissension among members of the Ribadu Committee. The disagreements during the presentation were as surprising as they were sudden. President Jonathan should be commended for his mature handling of the situation, and not made the target of silly insinuations,” Mr. Abati said.
The two dissenting members of the task force hold high ranking government appointments and the ACN believe they were appointed into the committee by the presidency to act out a drama in a scripted report presentation ceremony.
The opposition ACN claimed that Steve Oronsaye and Bernard Otti’s membership of the board of the investigated corporation, NNPC , while serving on the Ribadu committee, compromised their position.
But the presidency disagreed, citing the membership of top goveernment functionaries in the committee and other similar panels as defence.
“They – the panel – were not set up as quasi-judicial bodies but as committees of wise and knowledgeable men and women who would offer useful advice and in getting such useful advice there is nothing wrong in encouraging the participation of a broad category of persons including insiders and outsiders,” Mr. Abati added.
Mr Abati argued that President Jonathan was serious about waging war against corruption.
“The ACN should desist from looking for faults where none exists, in the expectation that if they tell the same lies long enough, more gullible persons will be persuaded to trust them,” Mr Abati said.