One Jonathan Adviser Undercuts Another on FOI Bill

1 March 2011

The Special Adviser to Nigerian President Goodluck Jonathan on Media, Imma Niboro, has distanced the president from remarks by another presidential advisor that were sharply critical of the pending freedom of information bill.

Nibora told reporters March 1 that Special Adviser on National Assembly Matters, Mohammed Abba-Aji, was speaking only for himself when he strongly opposed the bill on Feb. 28 and said he would advise the president to reject it, according to media reports such as one in The Vanguard. (See previous report.)

Nibora said: “He (Abba-Aji) was speaking as an individual. He was not speaking for the Federal Government. I speak for the president, the information minister speaks for the government and in the matter of laws; the attorney general of the federation who is the chief law officer speaks for the government. If the speech doesn’t come from any of the three of us then he is purely speaking for himself.”

Niboro, who was traveling with the president, noted that Abba-Aji has opposed FOI legislation in the past.

While Nibor said nothing about the recently passed House FOI bill, Jonathan has spoken favorably of FOI on the campaign trail in the past. His information minister has advocated for passage of the bill.

Abba-Aji’s remarks set off strong reactions from the Nigeria Union of Journalists (NUJ) and the chairman of the House of Representatives Committee on Diaspora, Abike Dabiri- Erewa, urged the president to sack him or denounce his statement, according to a report in The Nation.

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