Date Published: 04/10/10
Press Statement issued on behalf of Obong Victor Attah, former Governor of Akwa Ibom State:
When Fiction is Presented as News
This statement is being issued after consultations with former Akwa Ibom State Governor, Obong Victor Attah. Personally, he is not inclined to respond to petty matters in the uproarious political scene. But for reasons of ensuring that truth prevails over falsehood, he would like readers of national dailies of Friday March 26, 2010, to take note that they have been misinformed on aspects of recent ministerial nominations. Specifically, Daily Sun page 1, The Nation page 1, Nigerian Compass page 1, Nigerian Tribune page 1, Vanguard page 6, Daily Independent page 10, Leadership page 6, all carried almost word for word (a proof that it was syndicated) accounts of how three former governors were shocked for not making the ministerial list of Acting President Jonathan. Obong Attah wants Nigerians to note the truth as follows:
1. He never re-located to Abuja to lobby anyone for ministerial job. Being already resident in Abuja, with his architectural offices in the central district as contained in the interview that he granted the media last year (refer to Sunday newspapers - Punch, Guardian, Sun, Compass, Independent, and Nation - of December 20, 2009), there was no need at all for him to relocate as the news reports stated.
2. The newspapers cited above (in my opening paragraph) used virtually the same words of “wild jubilation” to describe reactions in Akwa Ibom when allegedly Attah did not make the list. Was this jubilation in the streets, markets, schools or in the Government House alone? Who broadcast the “news” to the jubilating crowds? Worthy of note is that nowhere in the media, since the Acting President dissolved the Federal Executive Council, was Obong Attah’s name speculated as possible ministerial nominee. Furthermore, Attah was not a member of the dissolved Council, therefore lumping with ex-governors who were, showcased mischief by those who initiated the news.
3. They talked of preparations towards celebration. What could be the nature of this preparation that people were able to observe? And who could have been arranging this imaginary ‘elaborate’ celebration? Definitely not anyone associated with Victor Attah. Attah is far more mature and cultured to prepare to celebrate mere nomination to office. As a matter of fact he is not known to have celebrated appointments, not to mention, nomination. He is known to have celebrated only at the end of a successful tenure in office.
4. Obong Attah, who has great regard for Nigerian Journalists and Editors, wishes to convey his dismay that this kind of fabricated news found its way into respectable newspapers. How can a “news” item which was not given as a Press Release be reprinted word for word in so many newspapers without the News Editors concerned asking professional questions about the veracity of the material received. The so-called reports, some with no by-line and those with by-line purportedly originated from different locations (Abuja, Lagos and even Enugu); appeared to be the writing of one man distributed to the media houses concerned. If it were not so, how could someone in Abuja or Lagos or Enugu be reporting the ‘wild jubilation’ that supposedly took place in Uyo without mentioning that the Uyo Correspondents of the media houses witnessed such.
5. This travesty is obviously the work of the long hand of Attah’s self-proclaimed enemy in Uyo. It is a hand heavily plastered with wads of Naira notes, which has been causing tremendous havoc in the media across the federation.
6. Managers of national dailies are enjoined to be more vigilant in this pre-election year as some politicians plot all sorts of misinformation and disinformation.
7. Fiction can never pass as news. If politicians offer money to reporters in line of duty, it is up to them to take the money but let them report only the truth and not surrender their pens to press secretaries and assistants to write their reports.
PA to Obong Victor Attah
April 5, 2010