The Federal Government has debunked a claim by a foreign newspaper outfit that the Jonathan administration ordered 53 gold-plated iPhones to be distributed to individuals during the Nation’s 53rd Independence anniversary celebration.
According to statement by the Press secreatary to the Minister of Information, Joseph Metuh, the story in question is totally false.
“The attention of the Federal Ministry of Information has been drawn to a story in both the traditional and social media, alleging that the Nigerian Government purportedly ordered 53 gold-plated iPhones for the country’s 53rd independence anniversary celebration. The story is false in its entirety and nothing but the figment of the warped imagination of the author”
The statement further stated that no one under the aegis of the Jonathan administration has made such move to procure any device for the Independent celebration.
“Neither the Federal Government of Nigeria nor any of its agencies contemplated the idea or placed any order for gold-plated iPhones for the nation’s 53rd independence anniversary, or any anniversary for that matter”
Nigerians were asked to disregard such a story as it is meant to put the administration in a bad light and aimed at putting into disrepute the Federal Government.
“We, therefore, call on Nigerians and the international community to disregard the story linking the Federal Government with the importation of the gold-plated iPhones. The blatant falsehood in the story is one of those mischievous attempts at tarnishing the image of the Federal Government.
Nigerians are hereby advised to watch out for those intent on blackmailing the government for political reasons”
The statement however advised Nigerians to put into good use their wealth to enhance the development of the Nigerian economy.
“For private individuals who are extravagant enough to contemplate the importation of luxury items such as gold-plated iPhones, we would like to use this opportunity to appeal to them to invest their wealth in the Nigerian economy, to create jobs and generate more wealth for the nation, rather than waste such money in pursuit of expensive tastes.
They should copy the examples of Aliko Dangote, Innocent Chukwuma (Innoson Motors), and others who are using their talents and wealth to invest in the economy to create jobs for Nigerians”.
In a twitter exchange between the company and a Nigerian socialactivist, Henry Okelue (@4eyedmonk), the London-based company denied its earlier claim that it got the order directly from the government, saying the order came from a private individual.
“These have been ordered not by the government but by an individual who is gifting them to people there, to celebrate the [53rd Anniversary],” the company’s twitter handle (@goldandco) tweeted at Mr. Okelue.
The company then suggested that the Daily Independent lied saying “what was written and what was said are different.”
But the author of the story, Simon Usborne (@susborne), insists that he reported what he was told by Mr. Ali when asked about the denial on Gold and Co.
“I can only confirm what the boss of @goldandco told me,” he said.
He also suggested that Gold and Co is desperately trying to re-script the interview after the fact and probably to assuage the attention and angry reaction the story has attracted from Nigerians on social media.
“Seems boss of @goldandco got carried away. He now tells me a Nigerian individual – not the govt. – ordered 53 anniversary gold iPhones,” he tweeted.
Each of the gold plated phones is expected to be engraved with Nigeria’s coat of arm and valued between £3000 and £50,000 (N750,000 to 12.5 million).