Former President Goodluck Jonathan on Sunday opened up on his just-concluded foreign trips and visit to President Muhammadu Buhari at the State House, Abuja.
Why he refuted media reports that he was on self-exile in Cote d’Ivoire, Jonathan said that he was away from Nigeria for six weeks on international engagement.
Through his media aide, Mr. Ikechukwu Eze, the former President in a statement, said that his attention had been drawn “to a spurious publication in ThisDay of Saturday, June 4, 2016 entitled ‘Buhari Holds Secret Meeting with Jonathan, Niger Delta Tops Agenda’. We had thought that the newspaper only set out to report a routine meeting between the former President and President Buhari, while speculating on the agenda just as newspapers are wont to freely do, especially as no statement was issued by either of the parties.
“We are however dismayed that ThisDay, unlike other newspapers, went beyond this brief and turned the report into a veil for its vain and futile attempt to justify its earlier ‘exclusive’ report, on a speculated Jonathan’s self-exile to Cote d’Ivoire.
“We are inclined to proclaim straightaway that this claim or any insinuation to Dr. Jonathan’s contemplation of exile is not only false and tendentious, but inciting. Isn’t it reprehensible that the only truth in the ThisDay publication is that former President Jonathan paid a visit to President Buhari, while the rest of the content are bogus insinuations and fabrications?
“It is surprising that, rather than apologise to the former President and the nation for an obvious gaffe, ThisDay continues to pursue this illusory line of thought, which achieves nothing but mislead its readers, even after the former President had clearly stated that he never, at any point in time, considered going into exile.
“We are persuaded to believe that the newspaper is pursuing a yet-to-be-declared agenda, especially after a call earlier made, out of respect, to the newspaper by the former President, to offer a clarification, was deliberately misrepresented, to agree with this premeditated conclusion.
“We are disappointed that a serious newspaper like ThisDay could carelessly wager its reputation and encouraging perception, by submitting itself to such recklessness and needless sensationalism.
“We therefore seek to make the following assertions, as a means of stating the facts:
“We maintain as Dr. Jonathan has himself stated, that the former President has no intention of turning his back on Nigeria, a homeland he served diligently as President, to the best of his abilities.
“It is instructive to note that while ThisDay continues to insist that Jonathan came from Cote d’Ivoire, the former President actually returned to the country last Wednesday evening from London, after visiting many countries including the United States, United Kingdom, Senegal and Cote d’Ivoire on a six-week long international engagements and speaking tour.
“As a former President, Dr. Jonathan should be obliged the freedom to visit President Buhari, anytime he likes, to brief him on his international engagements and other commitments.
“We will like to advise media houses to desist from this fruitless predilection of Jonathan bashing, just because it is convenient, and in tune with the disposition in some quarters,” Eze said.