EX-USA Ambassador Denies Working For Buhari, Expresses Worry Over NNPC Scandal

A former United States Ambassador to
Nigeria, John Campbell, on Tuesday replied
Reno Omokri, a former aide to ex-President
Goodluck Jonathan who accused him of
being a political lackey for President
Muhammadu Buhari.

Mr. Campbell said Mr. Omokri mistook his
appreciation of Mr. Buhari’s anti-
corruption efforts for consultancy services.

“I am not a consultant to any Nigerian, to
any Nigerian corporation, to the
presidency, nor to any part of the Nigerian
government,” Mr. Campbell told PREMIUM
TIMES Tuesday.

The retired diplomat, now a senior fellow
at the Council on Foreign Relations in
Washington, D.C., was responding to an
email enquiry from PREMIUM TIMES over a
slew of unflattering remarks Mr. Omokri
directed at him.

Mr. Omokri had in a statement Sunday said
Mr. Campbell was trying to divert attention
from corruption allegations currently
rocking the Nigerian National Petroleum
Corporation in order to protect Mr. Buhari’s
public image.

“It is most unfortunate that the former US
Ambassador to Nigeria, John Campbell, who
is now a consultant to certain Nigerians
and a self-confessed admirer of President
Muhammadu Buhari, would again insult
Nigerians with his procured opinions
meant to divert the public from the
monumental $26 billion corruption scam

recently uncovered in the Nigerian
National Petroleum Corporation of which
President Muhammadu Buhari is the
supervising minister,” Mr. Omokri said in a
statement sent to PREMIUM TIMES Sunday.

The former presidential assistant was
responding to a blog post Mr. Campbell
published on the website of Council on
Foreign Relations, a public policy think-
tank which has its headquarters in New
York.

In his article, Mr. Campbell criticised the
Nigerian House of Representatives for
issuing a warrant of arrest for the acting
chairman of the Economic and Financial
Crimes Commission, EFCC, Ibrahim Magu.

The EFCC is currently probing several
millions of dollars linked to Mrs. Jonathan,
some of which she claimed to be hers.

Mr. Campbell said the arrest warrant was
orchestrated by most “Christian” Nigerian
lawmakers and they were hounding Mr.
Magu for daring to go after Mrs. Jonathan,
from whom they benefitted while her
husband was in power.

Mr. Campbell also castigated Mrs. Jonathan
as being “arrogant and flamboyant” and
questioned how she was able to amass
such stupendous wealth as a career civil
servant.

In his Sunday statement, Mr. Omokri said
Mr. Campbell was ignorant of issues in
Nigeria, adding that Mrs. Jonathan had
been a businesswoman who was never
confined to “the other room”, in an
apparent mockery of Mr. Buhari who last
October said his wife, Aisha, belongs to the
kitchen and the other room.

He also defended the House’s invitation to
Mr. Magu, saying the lower chamber “is a
legally constituted legislative body with
powers to summon.”

PREMIUM TIMES wrote to Mr. Campbell for
reactions to Mr. Omokri’s attacks on
Sunday, but the diplomat did not respond
before the story was published on Monday
evening.
He later sent in his response, saying Mr.
Omokri mischaracterised some elements of
his article.

“Contrary to what Mr. Omokri seems to
imply, I did not maintain that the PDP
dominates the House of Representatives.

“Rather, I said that the Committee on
Public Petitions’ move to issue a warrant
for the arrest of Mr. Magu was led by PDP
representatives, as it was. I did not
comment one way or another on the
justification for the arrest warrant, which
is controversial.

“Nor did I comment on laudable steps taken
by the Jonathan government for the
empowerment of women,” Mr. Campbell
said.

Mr. Campbell said although he supports Mr.
Buhari’s anti-corruption efforts, he was
equally as worried about corruption at the
NNPC as Mr. Omokri.

“I share Mr. Omokri’s concern about
corruption within the Nigerian National
Petroleum Corporation,” Mr. Campbell said
while applauding “certain initiatives taken
by President Muhammadu Buhari,
especially with respect to corruption.”
The diplomat, however, maintained his
assertion that the influence of Christians
was most pronounced in Mr. Jonathan’s
government, with the exception of some
powerful Muslims in the cabinet at the
time.

“I stand by my characterisation of the
Jonathan government as being
predominately Christian in colouration,”
Mr. Campbell said. “I did note, however,
that former National Security Advisor,
Sambo Dasuki, charged with corruption, is
a northern Muslim. I stand by my
characterisation of the former first lady.”

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