16 September 2013, Abuja – First Lady, Mrs Patience Jonathan has denied reports that she is involved in the sale of the Enugu Electricity Distribution Company or Enugu Disco, the Power Holding Company of Nigeria, PHCN, firm put up for sale by the Bureau of Public Enterprises, BPE.
A statement signed by Mrs Ayo O. Adesugba, Director of Information, Office of the First Lady, said that the report of Mrs Jonathan’s involvement with the sale was devoid of facts.
The statement read: “Our attention has been drawn to an online article published in Sahara Reporters titled, “Nigeria’s First Lady, Vice President behind the Enugu Disco Sale Fiasco.”
“Normally, the hearsay and conjectures in the article should have been ignored due to the fact that it is speculative journalism at its worst. Additionally, the article as it pertains to the First Lady, Dame Patience Jonathan, is devoid of any concrete evidence or supporting documents. However, since the First Lady’s name has been mentioned in the article we are duty bound to respond so that the public will not be unwittingly misled.
According to Sahara Reporters, “A major source in the Presidency disclosed that Mrs. Jonathan is the unseen hand behind the constant bending of rules for Interstate by both the Bureau of Public Enterprises (BPE) and the National Council on Privatization (NCP).”
The report further states that, “The reason for the First Lady’s meddling is that Emeka Offor, leader of the Interstate consortium, has convinced her he would protect her secret business interest in the consortium.”
The article goes further to claim that, “Mr. Offor confided in associates early this week that he had advised Mrs. Jonathan, who hails from Rivers State as (Atedo) Peterside, to put pressure on the NCP technical committee chairman to “take it easy because this is Nigeria, and not America or London.”
“We state categorically that there is no truth or veracity whatsoever in these aforementioned statements. The First Lady is not interested and has no link whatsoever to the sale, or bending of rules, if any, for the sale of any public enterprise. The article is not only speculative and uncharitable but also extremely unfair and provocative,” the statement further read.
It continued: “The report runs counter to the basic ethics of journalism by failing to be fair and balanced. Nobody from Sahara Reporters requested the First Lady’s own side of the rumoured story.
“It is our hope that in future Sahara Reporters will present concrete facts to buttress whatever claims it has, so that we can examine facts and not respond to hearsay or rumour from unidentified sources.
“We wish to reiterate that there is no truth in the report. The First Lady’s attention is firmly focused on her philanthropic roles through her NGOs and on promoting peace in her capacity as the President of the African First Ladies Peace Mission.
“Dame Patience is also working with commitment to ensure greater online security for Nigerian children in her capacity as the International Telecommunication Union (ITU) Child Online Protection Champion. Unfounded and speculative reports such as the one carried by Sahara Reporters are unnecessary distractions which we hope all well-meaning Nigerians should ignore”.