Special Adviser to the President on National Assembly Matters Senator Mohammed Abba -Aji has clarified his position on the Freedom of Information (FoI) Bill and the fate of the Igbo in the 2015 presidential race.
Abba-Aji was reported to have vowed to get the Senate to kill the bill. But if the Senate passes it, he was reported to have said he would ensure that President Goodluck Jonathan did not assent to it. Abba-Aji prevailed on former President Olusegun Obasanjo not to assent to the Bill in 2007 after its passage by the then National Assembly .
At a press conference at the National Assembly yesterday, Abba-Aji said his opposition to the bill was in relation to sensitive issues bordering on national security and the sovereignty of the country.
According to him, no country implements it wholesale without classifying certain sensitive national security issues as intended by the version of the bill passed by the House of Representatives.
Abba-Aji said: “What I did was to draw attention to the conflict that in my view, is likely to have with the Seventh Schedule of the Constitution as it relates to the Oath of Office; and the Official Secret Act, which is yet to be repealed”
“I also tried to make the distinction between the Freedom of Information Bill, which seeks to compel public officers to reveal official matters, and the Freedom of the Press, which is already enshrined in Section 39 of the Constitution”.
He said it would amount to contradiction for the FoI Bill to co-exist with the Official Secret Act and the Oath of Office administered on the President and governors.
On the aspiration of the Igbo to the Presidency in 2015, Abba-Aji said his statement was taken out of context, stressing that there was no way he could have asked the race to forget the post in 2015.
He, however, admitted saying that the North will take a shot at the exalted office in 2015, adding that Vice President Namadi Sambo may succeed Jonathan in 2015.
According to him, his statement could not have been intended to mean that the Igbo should not aspire to the post after the expiration of President Jonathan’s tenure.
“I hereby categorically state that I did not at any time make such a statement. On the contrary, I strongly believe that my Igbo brothers and sisters have equal rights with all members of other ethnic groups of our nation to seek any public office, including the exalted office of the President of the Federal Republic of Nigeria”
“The statement, as it relates to Vice President Sambo is entirely my personal view, which he neither desired nor solicited. I therefore, hereby withdraw it and regret any misunderstanding that it might have generated”, he said.
My position on FoI Bill, by Abba-Aji