Former Foreign Affairs Minister and Deputy National Chairman of the 2014 National Conference, Prof. Bolaji Akinyemi, has reprimanded the Secretary to the Government of the Federation, SGF, Babachir David Lawal, for being crude and rude in referring to delegates of the conference as “boys”, among others.
In a press statement made available to THISDAY on Tuesday, Akinyemi said: “My attention has been drawn to the attack launched on the 2014 National Conference. As a matter of principle, since the end of the conference, a conference which I had the privilege and honour of serving in my capacity as the DEPUTY CHAIRMAN, I had refrained from playing an advocacy role vis-à-vis the position of this government as regards the Report of the 2014 Conference.
“But my attention has just been drawn to the interview granted by the Secretary to the Government of the Federation, Engr Babachir David Lawal, published in several national papers on June 27, 2016.
“I have no quarrel with the SGF reiterating the opposition of Government to the 2014 National Conference. But I find the language in which his views are couched to be crude, rude, offensive and unbecoming of the high office of state he occupies.
“He referred to the delegates as ‘boys’, BOYS!!!!!!!!!! Among the delegates are the Emir of Ilorin, the Lamido of Adamawa, King Arfred Diete Spiff, the Gbong Gwom of Jos, Emir of Yauri, Emir of Dutse, Emir of Askira, the Amanyanabo of Nembe, Various judges of the High Courts, BOYS!!!!!!!!!!!! Delegates included a former Chief of Defence Staff, a former Chief of Air Staff, three former Foreign Ministers, a former Inspector General of Police, two former Senate Presidents, a former SGF, several former Ministers, several SANs, several former Governors, Professors etc. etc. etc. Presiding was a former Chief Justice of Nigeria and a former Minister of External Affairs.
“My own upbringing and diplomatic and scholar’s disposition will not allow me to yield to the temptation to call Engr Lawal by the name his own choice of words has reduced him to. Most of the delegates there were people who had paid their dues, served this country in high and exalted positions, risked their lives in the civil war and other domestic insurrections and showed exceptional excellence in the performance of their duties, obviously more excellence than Engr. Lawal had demonstrated in his one year in office.
“In the same interview, the SGF was quoted as saying “it was reported that almost everybody in the committee got N7 million.” Come on Mr. SGF. Grow up. You have been in the office that funded the Conference and you have been there for over a year, and all you need to do is to send for the files to know that what members were paid is much less than N7 million per member. You do not have to depend on rumours or “dem say”.
“Frankly, I will not plead for the Report of the Conference to be considered by your Government. Governments come and Governments go. The problems will remain. We will all be judged by whether we were part of the solution or part of the problems.”