The Presidency on Tuesday denied speculations of a friction within the information management team of President Goodluck Jonathan with the recent appointment of Dr. Doyin Okupe as the Senior Special Assistant to the President on Public Affairs.
The President’s Special Adviser on Media and Publicity, Dr. Reuben Abati, made the clarification while formally introducing Okupe to State House correspondents at the Presidential Villa, Abuja.
He said the information team, with the coming on board of Okupe with a lot of experience, would be engaging the public with coherence.
He said, “In the last few days, there has been a lot of speculations out there in the media; all kinds of theory, all kinds of assumptions on whether there is friction in the villa, whether there is confusion in terms of the President’s information management process.
“This morning, I have called this meeting to specially introduce to you Dr. Doyin Okupe who has been appointed by Mr. President as the Senior Special Assistant in charge of Public Affairs.
“There is no conflict in our information management process. Dr. Okupe is joining our team with a lot of experience. He is a man that you all know very well. He is gifted with a lot of political savvy, very amiable, very highly-respected within the society.
“He comes to this team with a lot of confidence in the Jonathan project. One thing we both have in common is that we both have a passion for the Jonathan’s transformation agenda and we believe in President Jonathan that he deserves the support of all Nigerians and that as many people as possible should join hands together to promote that transformation agenda.
“There is no conflict at all, we are working together as a team and you are not going to see any kind of friction. If anything, you are going to see us engaging the public with a lot of coherence.”
Responding, Okupe reiterated Abati’s explanation that the position of Senior Special Assistant to the President on Public Affairs is not in any way in conflict with the job of the Special Adviser to the President.
He said Abati remained the presidential spokesman.
He said, “The Special Adviser to the President remains the presidential spokesman. All official policies and statements emanating from the President are released through him.
Okupe explained that while the President and Abati would be outside the country, it would be his responsibility to engage the public on currents issues of national importance.
He denied reports that he was hired as an attack dog by the President.
He said, “We are to interface between the Presidency and the public. That is the job. What you will see is a synergy, not a conflict.
“Somebody said Okupe has been hired as an attack dog. If President Jonathan hires a 60-year-old man as attack dog, then he is employing a weak attack dog. I am not an attack dog. My job basically is public advocacy.”