By Johnbosco Agbakwuru
THE Presidency has explained that the visit of the Martin Luther King family led by the family’s Matriarch, Naomi Barbara King, where a commemorative plague was given to President Muhammadu Buhari for his fight against corruption was a private visit and was not funded by the Nigerian government.
The presidency also noted that it was after two days in the country, one of the members of the delegation granted interview to journalists where he had solicited support for President Buhari to continue in office so as to rid the country of corruption which some members of the MLK family viewed as political and had asked him to refute but he has refused to refute his call for the President’s support.
The Senior Special Assistant to the President on Foreign and Diaspora Matters, Hon. Mrs. Abike Dabiri-Erewa in a statement in Abuja, urged the public to discountenance any fake news about the visit and avoid the temptation of destroying all the good things for the sake of Politics .
The statement which was signed by Abdurrahman Balogun, Special Assistant to Hon. Dabiri-Erewa with the title, “Martin Luther King Family visit to Nigeria: The Facts”, expressed shock over what it described as fake online news reports on the visit.
The statement read, “Our attention has been drawn to obviously fake on line 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.
“President Muhammadu Buhari achievement in the fight against corruption is undeterred and sacrosanct.”
The social media has been awash since Thursday over the award of the MLK family to President Buhari as commentators and aggrieved Nigerians accused some of the presidential aides of being behind the award allegedly procured by the government for cheap political gain.
This development appeared to have jolted The King Centre which hitherto on Wednesday dissociated itself through its twitter handle.
A statement released via @TheKingCenter stated, “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.”
With the clarifications from the MLK family, there were litany of comments suggesting that the Nigeria government may have procured the award. An online platform, LeadersNG, on Thursday published that the Nigerian government might have paid up to $3 million to procure what it described as ‘fake award’ for the president.