Nigeria’s former Minister of Foreign Affairs, former Deputy Chairman of the 2014 National Conference and acclaimed political scientist, Bolaji Akinyemi has lashed out at the Secretary to the Government of the Federation. Akinyemi says Lawal’s language in the widely published interview of yesterday in which he talked about the 2014 National Conference was “crude, rude, offensive and unbecoming of the high office of state he occupies.”
In the interview, Lawal said: “Well, the government has taken a decision on the 2014 National Conference. I understand that some Nigerians want it implemented but the government has been too busy with key areas of governance to talk about an exercise that we thought was essentially diversionary and a sort of, maybe, a ‘job for the boys,’ because if you remember, it was reported that almost everybody in the committee got N7 million and we consider it essentially as job for the boys.”
In his reaction through a press statement today, Akinyemi said: “My attention has been drawn to the attack launched on the 2014 National Conference. As a matter of principle, since the end of the conference, a conference which I had the privilege and honour of serving in my capacity as the DEPUTY CHAIRMAN, I had refrained from playing an advocacy role vis-à-vis the position of this government as regards the Report of the 2014 Conference.
“But my attention has just been drawn to the interview granted by the Secretary to the Government of the Federation, Engr Babachir David Lawal, published in several national papers on June 27, 2016.
“I have no quarrel with the SGF reiterating the opposition of Government to the 2014 National Conference. But I find the language in which his views are couched to be crude, rude, offensive and unbecoming of the high office of state he occupies.
“He referred to the delegates as ‘boys’, BOYS!!!!!!!!!! Among the delegates are the Emir of Ilorin, the Lamido of Adamawa, King Arfred Diete Spiff, the Gbong Gwom of Jos, Emir of Yauri, Emir of Dutse, Emir of Askira, the Amanyanabo of Nembe, Various judges of the High Courts, BOYS!!!!!!!!!!!! Delegates included a former Chief of Defence Staff, a former Chief of Air Staff, three former Foreign Ministers, a former Inspector General of Police, two former Senate Presidents, a former SGF, several former Ministers, several SANs, several former Governors, Professors etc. etc. etc. Presiding was a former Chief Justice of Nigeria and a former Minister of External Affairs.
“My own upbringing and diplomatic and scholar’s disposition will not allow me to yield to the temptation to call Engr Lawal by the name his own choice of words has reduced him to. Most of the delegates there were people who had paid their dues, served this country in high and exalted positions, risked their lives in the civil war and other domestic insurrections and showed exceptional excellence in the performance of their duties, obviously more excellence than Engr. Lawal had demonstrated in his one year in office.
“In the same interview, the SGF was quoted as saying “it was reported that almost everybody in the committee got N7 million.” Come on Mr. SGF. Grow up. You have been in the office that funded the Conference and you have been there for over a year, and all you need to do is to send for the files to know that what members were paid is much less than N7 million per member. You do not have to depend on rumours or “dem say”.
“Frankly, I will not plead for the Report of the Conference to be considered by your Government. Governments come and governments go. The problems will remain. We will all be judged by whether we were part of the solution or part of the problems.”