The federal government on Wednesday evening denied ordering 53 gold Iphones to “celebrate” Nigeria’s 53rd anniversary which is coming up next month.
In a twitter conversation with a Nigerian social activist, the company, perhaps under pressure, seemed to back off a little bit from its earlier claim.
“These have been ordered not by the government but by an individual who is gifting them to people [in Nigeria] to celebrate [the independence anniversary]” a tweet from Gold&Co said.
But Simon Usborne, who reported the story for The Independent, has contradicted the company, asserting, “I can only confirm what the boss of @goldandco told me.” The reporter also suggested that Gold and Co is trying to re-script the interview after the fact, perhaps in view of the attention and angry reaction of Nigerians.
“Seems boss of @goldandco got carried away,” Usborne tweeted. “He now tells me a Nigerian individual – not the govt. – ordered 53 anniversary gold iPhones.”
President Jonathan’s social media aide, Reno Omokri who reacted to the allegation said, “Be advised that the story that the Nigerian Government has ordered 53 Gold iPhones is false,” he said. There is no truth to the story whatsoever.”
Minister of Information, Joseph Mutah avoided comments on the issue, but his Press Secretary denied the report.
“We have never heard of anything like that,” he said, as if his ears and the facts always match. “The story is utterly false and mischievous, there is no any (sic) order like that at least by this government.”
The federal government had according to reports, ordered 53 gold-plated iPhones at an incredible N662 million to “celebrate” 53 years of political independence.
Amjad Ali, the 42-year old British owner of Gold and Co., based in Dubai, had told London’s The Independent newspaper he received an order from the Nigerian government for 53 gold phones to mark Nigeria’s independence from Britain in October.
Basic models of the gold or rose gold start from £3,000. “We will engrave them with the coat of arms, a shield and two horses,” Ali had been reported as saying.
The latest report may deal a big blow on Goodluck Jonathan image, stained with allegations and controversies of all sorts, including corruption and extravagance.