Special Adviser to the President on Media and Publicity, Femi Adesina, said yesterday that the federal government has never clamped down on the media.
President Muhammadu Buhari had severally been accused of muzzling the media, but when asked if the recently raised-alarm on alleged smear plots against Buhari was an attempt to provide justification for an imminent clamp down on the media, Adesina, who spoke on Arise Television interview, said the federal government had no intention of doing that.
He said: “This government never clamps down on the media, it has never done and will never do. I can promise you that. This government will never tamper with the freedom of the press.
“There wouldn’t have been an alarm if there was no evidence and you know that that is the second alarm in about five, six weeks.
“We have impeccable evidence that the plot was afoot. When we raised the first evidence in December, maybe it scared them a bit, they retreated but as at last week, they came back and were about launching and when we had the unimpeachable evidence again that it was going to be done up to the point of those, they had interviews; what those ones have said, documents to unleash, we just had to warn the public else they be hoodwinked into believing falsehood.
“You know that government has the capacity to ferret out all these things so when you speak of certain things, it’s because you already have the evidence.”
He said the Presidency would not reveal its sources, stressing that the alleged detractors were not within the government.
He, however, said by the time the alleged detractors start their “hatchet jobs”, Nigerians would know their identities.
“They can’t be fifth columnists because fifth columnists are inside and we didn’t say they are inside.
“They are not inside the government, and I am sure the alarm we raised, we did not describe them as the fifth columnists.
“Would I want to mention names? No. You never reveal your sources at the risk of anything. It will be quite unprofessional to name them now but by the time they go ahead and publish those hatchet jobs, readers can then discern. So, they will reveal themselves,’’ Adesina said.
On Nigeria’s poor corruption rating, Adesina said Transparency International had never said anything good about Nigeria.
‘’We do not need them to validate the developmental strides of the nation,’’ the presidential scribe said.
He also said some efforts of the current administration were under-reported and that Nigerians behave as if they were not aware of what the government was doing.
He said: “I don’t agree with you that Transparent International has said good things about us. In the past, four-five years of this administration, Transparency International has not said anything quite laudable about this administration.
“I say it again, we don’t need an international organisation to come and authenticate what we are doing in Nigeria because we know what we are doing and how far it is going. We know strides that are being taken in the anti-corruption war and if an international organisation chooses not to see it, fine.
“Another thing is that when they come with those reports, what Nigerians don’t know is that they are not talking about government per se but talking about us. That report, if it is an indictment, indicts you and me.”