The Presidency on Tuesday disclosed that the person who leaked President Muhammadu Buhari’s draft speech hours before he delivered his address to the nation on Monday night, has been traced.
Special Adviser to the President on Media and Publicity, Femi Adesina, made disclosure when he appeared on This Morning programme of TVC News.
The version released was full of errors and was already circulating on social media before the actual broadcast to the nation.
Asked to clear the confusion on the lockdown where some newspapers carried out different date, the Presidential Spokesman said: “There is just one authentic copy of the broadcast which is the one released from the media office. But then, I recognise that a couple of hours before the broadcast itself, a copy of the purported speech had been circulating particularly on WhatsApp. If you compare the two, yes there are some similarities but then there are also wide differences.
“You have just mentioned the effective day particularly of the gradual easing of the lockdown. What happened was that somebody got hold of the initial draft of the broadcast and played hanky panky with it by releasing it through the social media. If you know the processes that a broadcast goes through before it gets recorded – the script will originate from the relevant government agency, department, parastatal of ministry, whoever heads that agency, ministry or parastatal sign up on it and then they sent it to the presidential office.
“When it gets to the presidential office, it gets through a number of hands again, because the President’s thoughts must be infused and injected into that draft. There are some things that may be in it that the President may completely not agree with. “Finally, it comes to the media office, and I sign on it which I also did yesterday before the broadcast was recorded – I signed on the final copy before the broadcast was recorded.
“So some hours before the recording was played back, I saw something circulating on social media, I knew that that was not the copy that I signed off on. Then we began to investigate. It has been found out that the original script from inception was what somebody laid hands-on and released to the social media.”
Speaking on some mainstream media reporting from the leaked speech, Adesina said: “Well, mainstream media knows how we release our statements – whatever documents that we are releasing. They should know how to authenticate it. It comes from the media office. So if any mainstream media is now taking its information from the social media, that mainstream media is to be blamed because we duly released the authentic copy of that broadcast by 8:06 PM. So the mainstream media should not have depended on a leaked copy which turns out to have many discrepancies compared with the original and final copy. “
On the reopening of worship centres and schools and whether it is a bit hasty considering the lives of the children, the Presidential spokesman said, “what Mr. President said yesterday was that, from Monday, May 4, there will be a gradual opening up and what that means is that the Presidential Taskforce on COVID-19 will give a guideline on what can be done and what can’t be done under that gradual easing up.
“Remember that the President stressed yesterday that some other things will continue like social distancing, not congregating for religious events – it’s on the broadcast yesterday. But the Presidential Taskforce will continue to advise on how we can open up and return to normal life gradually.”
Asked if the same rule applied to schools and school children, Adesina said, “yes but if you look at what the Army did about a week ago, it opened up its schools but not at every level. Those who are in senior secondary schools preparing for WAEC are supposed to return to school to write their exams and he said gradually it will go down to different grades. I don’t want to preempt what the guidelines of the Presidential Taskforce will be like but definitely, there will be a guideline on how schools can begin to reopen. It may not be the whole school because if a school has a population of one thousand it may have an effect. But those who are going to write WAEC are the ones to resume.”