Abike Dabiri-Erewa, Special Assistant to President Muhammadu Buhari on Diaspora and Foreign Affairs, has spoken on the report making the rounds on social media that the presidency paid $3 million to get an award from the family of Martin Luther King.
Report emerged last week that $3 million was paid to secure the award for the President and that she allegedly facilitated the process.
The visit of King’s family to Aso Presidential Villa and the reported award to President Buhari have generated a lot of controversies in Nigeria since last week.
But speaking with the Punch on the matter, the Presidential aide said that King’s family were shocked to hear the rumour.
According to her, “To say the least, nothing would surprise me in politics. When I first heard the rumour that the Presidency paid $3m to get the award, I laughed.
“That accusation shows crass ignorance. Is it possible that President Muhammadu Buhari would give out $3.5 m to obtain an award?
“It is also a lie that the award was facilitated by me through a Ghanaian diplomat called Dr. Erieka Bennett. Linking Bennett to the matriarch of MLK, Naomi Barbara King, is also crass ignorance.
“Bennett is a respectable woman who just met Barbara King in Abuja this month; they had never met before.
“They all came for black history month festival. Bennett heads the first Diaspora mission recognised by the African Union.
“They want to find out why the tweet will come out of that centre anyway. They said they would sort that out. So, for somebody to sit in his room and concoct a lie is disgraceful
“I think it’s Nigerians who want to cause disagreement in the King’s family. When PDP loyalists wrote to the centre that money was used to get the award, they were shocked.
“They were shocked over there because Newton specifically said that anyone who claimed that they were paid to give the award was insulting the King family. Newton is a nephew of MLK.”