Dear Reuben Abati,
I read your cleverly written letter to me regarding our latest report on
President Goodluck Jonathan's junket to Ethiopia. In writing what purports
to be a rejoinder, you deliberately left out details of our sms exchanges
on the same issue. That omission, I suggest, was an attempt to evade the
central issue raised in our report. Instead of confronting that issue – the
list of delegates invited and sponsored by the Jonathan administration and
his wife to Ethiopia – you chose to play a semantic game over what is a
straight forward issue. I'll respond to your rejoinder pointedly.
1. You sent me a text message on Friday claiming that our report on the
Ethiopia trip was false and malicious because, according to you, there was
a "mix up" somewhere. I quickly responded, telling you that a truthful
report could never be malicious. Thereafter, you sent another text saying
you didn't mean to criticize the report, but wanted to put matters
straight. You proceeded to explain that there was only "one delegation" led
by the president to Addis Ababa and that the number of people on the list
was far lower than we reported. I quickly requested for the list. You
responded by claiming that it was in your bag at your hotel room. However,
you curiously sent another text claiming you couldn't reach some people
involved in getting the list as it was "past midnight" in Addis Ababa. My
last text to you was a reminder that I would be waiting for your response
regarding the list and size of the delegation. That response never came;
instead, you released this letter that pretends to be a refutation, but is
rather an attempt at obfuscation.
2. You claimed that there was a single list of delegates to Ethiopia. That
claim amounts to a puerile effort to conceal the fact that Mrs. Patience
Jonathan was attending a program of African First Ladies which was
different from the AU summit being attended by President Jonathan. This
meant that the "First Lady" was traveling with a retinue of staff,
associates and hangers-on to aid or support her “official” activities at a
separate event from that of President Jonathan.
3. As the president’s chief spokesman, you ought to have the delegate list.
I challenge you then to provide the public with a breakdown of Mr.
Jonathan's "one delegation entourage" to Addis Ababa, categorized in order
of designation of officials, their date of travel, mode of travel, and
explanation of whether they were part of the advance party or arrived in
Addis Ababa in the same aircraft as the President – or in an extra aircraft
that was deployed.
4. From your letter, it is clear that you concede that some "Nigerians" may
have traveled with the delegation "unofficially." Does this technical
admission not defeat your initial insistence that there was only "one
5. SaharaReporters has a history of documenting the culture of waste
occasioned by the profligate junkets by the Presidency. We are glad that
your principal appears to have realized that wasteful trips need to be
eliminated and the size of delegations cut – especially after the
president’s scandalous outing in Perth, Australia where an out-of-control
delegation engaged in waste, corruption and even broke Australian laws. 6.
We maintain that “First Lady” Patience Jonathan traveled with a retinue of
aides, friends and associates to the tune of 32 people. Their travels
and accommodation were arranged and paid for by the Nigerian government.
What you owe the public is an obligation to be transparent. In this event,
that entails releasing your official delegates’ list as well as names of
associates, contractors, friends and "other Nigerians" the government gave
a nod to visit along with the president and his wife on this trip to Addis
Ababa. In other words, we await the release of that list that you claimed
was in your bag in the hotel room in Addis Ababa.
Sincerely, Omoyele Sowore