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Jonathan Storms New York with 120-Man Delegation For A 36-Hour Trip To The UN

September 22, 2010

The culture of profligacy and waste of public funds that has come to define the Goodluck Jonathan regime will be on full display Thursday morning when he arrives in New York at 6:00a.m. Saharareporters has obtained a list of Jonathan’s entourage, indicating that he will be accompanied by a 120-strong contingent during his short trip to address the General Assembly on Friday. Jonathan’s wife, Patience, is also headed for New York with her own much smaller retinue. 

The culture of profligacy and waste of public funds that has come to define the Goodluck Jonathan regime will be on full display Thursday morning when he arrives in New York at 6:00a.m. Saharareporters has obtained a list of Jonathan’s entourage, indicating that he will be accompanied by a 120-strong contingent during his short trip to address the General Assembly on Friday. Jonathan’s wife, Patience, is also headed for New York with her own much smaller retinue. 

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After reviewing the long roll of people on Jonathan’s list, a civic society activist in Abuja told Saharareporters, “The punch line to the joke is that, despite the huge delegation, President Jonathan will be in the United States for only one day.”

According to his itinerary obtained by Saharareporters in Abuja, Jonathan will leave the US on Friday at 6:00 p.m. (local time), just 36 hours after his arrival in New York. 

The Nigerian ruler, who initially cancelled his trip to New York over domestic political and security concerns, is expected to return shortly after delivering his speech on Friday, in order to continue with the political horse-trading concerning his presidential bid.  He is trying to neutralize all forms of opposition from the north to his ambition to be the presidential flag bearer of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP).

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Initially, Jonathan had planned to travel to New York with some 98 federal officials. His arrival date was scheduled for last Sunday, one day after the political jamboree at Eagle Square, Abuja, where he formally declared his intention to seek his party’s nomination as presidential candidate. 

Our investigation has also revealed that the Nigerian government has lost a substantial sum of money owing to the refusal of the Ritz Carlton Hotel in New York to refund hotel reservation funds to Nigeria’s Permanent Mission to the United Nations. The Nigerian Mission had originally booked Jonathan and his entourage for what was to be a weeklong trip. But with Jonathan coming only for 36 hours, the hotel refused to refund the down payment for the extra days, claiming that it could not do so in the midst of a hotel-booking boom during the UN General Assembly. A source told Saharareporters “the hotel’s management has argued that they could have filled their rooms if they had not reserved them for the Nigerian delegation, and that it’s not their fault that President Jonathan did not arrive at the initially scheduled time.”  

Numerous Nigerian UN permanent staff had to engage in booking and cancellation negotiations all week as a huge delegation of Nigerians, conservatively put at 522 people, had descended on New York for the Millennium Development Goals summit at the UN.  That meeting, which will be addressed by President Barack Obama this afternoon, will end today.

Jonathan’s bloated delegation includes ministers as well as Mrs. Sambo, the wife of Jonathan's vice; Helen Mark, the wife of the Senate president; the wives of the governors of Cross River (Mariam Liyel Imoke), Enugu (Clara Chime), Katsina (Fatima Shema), and Oyo (Oluwakemi Alao-Akala). Our source in Abuja disclosed that the choice of the wives of certain governors who are close political allies of Jonathan “is a sort of reward for their spouse’s loyalty.”

Saharareporters confirmed that the wife of the VP and Mrs. Shema have already arrived and checked into the Ritz Carlton hotel. They are booked to leave New York on Lufthansa Airline on Saturday.

The Ritz-Carlton Central Park is one of New York’s most expensive hotels.  According to its website, standard room rates range from $895.00 (USD) to $4500 for its “Premier Park” suite.  Those figures are per night.

Also in Jonathan’s delegation to New York are the Minister of Health, Onyebuchi Chukwu; the Minister for Foreign Affairs, Henry Odein Ajumogobia; the Minister of Planning, Shamshudeen Usman; the Attorney General and Minister of Justice, Mohammed Bello Adokie; and the Minister of Women Affairs, Josephine Anenih.  The Minister of Information, Dora Akunyili, and Jonathan's spokesperson, Mr. Ima Niboro, are scheduled to leave Nigeria for New York tonight.

The CSO to the president Mr. Obua, his chief detail, and luggage officers are also on the entourage.

Saharareporters confirmed that First Lady Patience Jonathan is to arrive in New York with about four of her friends, among them Mrs. Bola Shagaya and Mrs. Joyce Bozimo. Her team also includes two media assistants, Aliagan Zubair and Ayo Adewuyi, her protocol officer, and her special domestic assistant, Martha Onwuzurumba, amongst several others.

Nasir Aminu leads Jonathan’s advance party, comprising a seven-member RECCE team. The advance party proper is made up of some 50 people and is led by Mr. Oronto Douglas, who is Jonathan's Senior Special Assistant for Research, and the director of protocol at the Presidential Villa, Mr. A. Abubakar.

Since coming to power, Mr. Jonathan has demonstrated a taste for traveling with large entourages as well as the squandering of the nation’s scarce resources on travel. In June 2010, Saharareporters disclosed that he stormed a conference in Canada at which he had observer status with 140 delegates, even though he was only allowed come with seven people, officially.

Also in July 2010, Jonathan needed two presidential jets to ferry his vast entourage to the African Union Summit in Uganda. On his way back to Nigeria the jet he was flying in purportedly developed "trouble,” leading to the temporary abortion of his flight out of Entebbe. 

 However, a source within the Jonathan administration has told Saharareporters that the reported fault in the presidential jet was a ruse. “There was no problem with the president’s jet in Uganda,” said the source, adding, “The deception was all planned to enable Jonathan to order three brand new jets.” The federal executive council approved the purchase of three new jets that will cost the Nigerian taxpayers $150 million and an annual $6 million annually in maintenance costs.