The Chairman of the Editorial Board of Thisday Newspaper, Olusegun Adeniyi, has said former President Goodluck Jonathan did not debunk claims made in his new book, Against the Run of Play.
Mr. Adeniyi who authored the new book that chronicles how Mr. Jonathan lost the 2015 presidential election, said the former president only debunked claims made by other respondents in the book.
On Sunday, Mr. Adeniyi argued that the fact that the former president refuted claims by other respondents interviewed in the book was not an indictment of the book and the author’s claims.
The book, which was launched on Friday in Lagos, had generated heated debates in the media before the launch.
Reacting to the claims made by other leading political actors in the book on Saturday, Mr. Jonathan had said that the book contains many distorted claims by some of the respondents, adding that he would soon come out with his own account.
“I have just read Segun Adeniyi’s new book, ‘Against the Run of Play’ which has so far enjoyed tremendous reviews in the media,” Mr. Jonathan had said on his Facebook page.
“My take on it is that the book as presented, contains many distorted claims on the 2015 presidential election by many of the respondents.
“There will obviously be more books like that on this subject by concerned Nigerians. However, I believe that at the right time, the main characters in the election including myself will come out with a true account of what transpired either in major interviews or books.”
But in his reaction on Sunday, Mr. Adeniyi said there had been attempts in a section of the social media to credit Mr. Jonathan with what he did not say about the book, in order to discredit the book and its author.
“The respondents President Jonathan was referring to are the people who spoke to me and whose claims he apparently disputes or disagrees with…President Jonathan did not say I distorted his views,” Mr. Adeniyi said.
The former presidential spokesperson noted that after interviewing the former president, the raw text of the conversation was sent to him for appropriate amendment, adding that Mr. Jonathan removed, reworked and rephrased his accounts and provided further context in some areas.
“The reason I did that was so I would not misquote, misrepresent or distort the views of any of the people who spoke to me on trust,” Mr. Adeniyi said.
“My intention was not to ambush or set up anyone. This is why I gave them the opportunity to go over what they told me again before putting it in print. Fortunately, none of them has come out to say I distorted their views.
“I went through this same process with former President Olusegun Obasanjo, former Senate President David Mark, APC National Leader, Asiwaju Bola Tinubu, Governor Nasir el-Rufai of Kaduna State, former NGF Chairman and current Transportation Minister, Mr Chibuike Rotimi Amaechi, former Niger State Governor, Dr. Muazu Babangida Aliyu and a few other principal actors who all have in their emails the raw text of our conversations.”
Commenting further, Mr. Adeniyi said he left out so many things in the book to avoid unnecessary controversies.
“For instance,” he said, “President Obasanjo made some strong remarks about former Vice President Atiku Abubakar which I decided to remove even after he (Obasanjo) had approved it for publication.
“I did the same to some of the things others told me that I believed could raise unnecessary dust or distract from the story at hand,” he added.
Meanwhile, the author also disclosed that hackers had succeeded in breaking the code to the online edition of the book, adding that it is already being circulated online.
Mr. Adeniyi, who lamented that he felt pained losing the revenue that could have accrued to him from online sales, however, said he wrote the book because it was an important story that should be documented and widely read.
“I have a feeling this book will be widely read, though at my expense and that of my publishers,” he said.
He, however, called on government to do more to protect the works of artists and other creative Nigerians from the antics of people who reap where they do not sow.
“When creative people in both the arts and sciences cannot be guaranteed the legitimate benefits of their sweat and investments, they lose the incentive to take the risk to create and innovate,” he said.
“And when that happens, the whole society loses.”