The Senior Special Assistant to the President on Foreign Affairs and Diaspora, Abike Dabiri-Erewa, has responded to reports on the leadership award allegedly bestowed on President Muhammadu Buhari by Martin Luther King Center.
Abike in a statement issued by her Special Assistant on Media, Abdurrahman Balogun, said the federal government did not state that the honour was bestowed by the King Centre, thereby accusing anti-Buhari elements of propagating “fake news”.
The presidency had earlier disclosed that, “President @MBuhari today at the State House received Martin Luther King Jnr’s family. He was also conferred with the 1st Black History Month National Black Excellence and Exceptional African Leadership Award 2018.”
The children of Martin Luther King and the King Center have, however, denied issuing the award to Buhari.
In a tweet on Wednesday, The King Center said: “The award given to President Buhari of Nigeria was not given by The King Center, at the request of The King Center or by the children of #MLK and #CorettaScottKing. @MrFixNigeria”
Dabiri, however, said Buhari received a ‘commemorative plaque’ for his fight against corruption by a member of Martin Luther Kings family not by the centre.
The statement reads “Our attention has been drawn to obviously fake online news reports on the visit of some members of the MLK family to Nigeria.
“The members, led by the Matriarch of MLK, Naomi Barbara King, were in Nigeria as part of the activities initiated to celebrate a low- key Black History Month in Nigeria as part of deepening partnership between Africa and its Diaspora.
“As part of the activities, they visited President Muhammadu Buhari and gave him a commemorative plaque for his fight against corruption and what they termed from the “ Africania Diaspora” a term for Africans in Diaspora for which the oldest of them all Naomi Barbara King was selected to present on behalf of the family (NOT MLK CENTER) as a sign of appreciation to the Nigerian President.
“It must be categorically stated here that the trip was totally privately funded and not one kobo was spent by the Nigerian government as it was all a private initiative.
“However, after two days in Nigeria, one of the members apparently granted an interview which was seen as being political , asking Nigerians to give President Muhammadu Buhari a chance to continue his good works especially of fighting corruption in Nigeria.
“As a non political group , he was asked to refute the statement , which he refused to , insisting that was how he felt , and it was his personal opinion, not that of the family nor the centre, of which he is a board member and was the Chief Operating Officer for over five years.
“This may have led to some arguements among them , which they have said they will resolve when they get back to the US., which apparently led to the tweet being circulated
“The visit to Nigeria was quite successful that they extended their stay for two major days, surprised at the negative reports on Nigeria.
“Members of the public are hereby urged to please discountenance any fake news about the visit and avoid the temptation of destroying all the good things for the sake of Politics. as the administration marches on in the fight against against corruption.”