Wednesday, January 6, 2016 9:55 pm
After several calls and expressions of concern by a number of well-meaning Nigerians, the Nigerian Guild of Editors (NGE) has issued a statement to clarify the circumstances surrounding a N50m donation made to it by the government of former President Goodluck Jonathan.
According to a statement by Garba Deen Muhammad, its President, on 10 April, 2014, the NGE held a fundraising dinner at the Transcorp Hilton Hotel, Abuja, to raise N850m (eight hundred and fifty million Naira) for the purpose of building a befitting secretariat in Abuja which shall be called The Editors Plaza. It was a public event, attended by several dignitaries among them federal cabinet ministers, state governors and captains of industry or their representatives.
Former President Goodluck Jonathan, according to the guild, was invited to the event at which he was represented by the former Minister of Information and National Orientation Mr. Labaran Maku
The group added that at the event, Mr. Maku, among other donors, publicly pledged N50million as the federal government’s contribution towards the building project. “Indeed the announcement of this donation has been on the website of the NGE since April 12, 2014; and is still there for those who may wish to verify,” the statement indicated.
Shortly after the event, the federal government redeemed its pledge through a transfer direct into the Zenith bank account of the NGE. “For the avoidance of doubt, neither Mr. Femi Adesina, who was the President of the Guild at the time nor any other official of the Guild collected cash from the government as has been erroneously alleged by Mr. Nduka Obaigbena, publisher of THISDAY newspapers in a letter he sent to the EFCC and made public on Monday, January 4, 2016,” the Guild added.
The statement contains other explanations that funds collected by the Guild during the fundraiser have so far been invested in two projects viz:
” (I) The purchase of a property in Lagos which we have named The Editors House and is located at No. 24, Mojidi Street, Off Toyin Street, Ikeja-Lagos.
(II) Paying compensation, clearing and fencing of our 5, 600 Sqm piece of land at Guzape, Abuja, which is the site of the proposed Editors Plaza.
In Lagos, we have since commissioned a team of engineers and architects for the purpose of renovating the property, a twin duplex, preparatory to our moving in hopefully in the first quarter of 2016; while in Abuja, we have already commenced the process of obtaining a building permit from the authorities of the FCT preparatory to the groundbreaking ceremony for the Editors Plaza building later in the year 2016.”
The Guild added that it is regrettable that an earlier statement by the Guild on the anti-corruption war of the government of President Mohammadu Buhari may not be unconnected with recent attempts to drag the Guild into a matter in which it has no case to answer whatsoever.
The Guild thanked the public and all those who have stood by it over the years, including its founding fathers and those media organizations that took time to check the claim with the leadership of the NGE and reported their findings accurately and assures the public and all stakeholders that it would continue to remain a responsible and accountable professional group.