Presidency yesterday has reacted to the disappointment expressed by Nigerians on the absence of President Goodluck Jonathan in the list of world leaders allowed to speak at the funeral ceremony of the late anti-apartheid hero, Dr. Nelson Mandela.
It explained apart from the Chairman of the AU Commission, Dr Nkosazana Dlamini Zuma, who represented African leaders, it couldn’t have been possible for everyone to speak, otherwise there would not be an end to the event.
According to the Special Adviser to the President on Media and Publicity, Dr. Reuben Abati, “This is a classic case of much ado about nothing. The question of President Jonathan not speaking at the Mandela funeral which you claim is giving some of your readers headache is a complete non-issue.
“The late Madiba’s burial is not a United Nations debating session. It is what it is, a burial: a solemn, national ceremony. Leaders from all over the world attended the Memorial Service to pay their last respect and to identify with South Africans in their hour of grief.
“It was certainly not meant to be an occasion for political grandstanding or the waving of flags. Out of about 100 world leaders who attended the event today, only six spoke at the ceremony.
“It was made clear at the occasion that the Chairman of the AU Commission, Dr Nkosazana Dlamini Zuma, will speak on behalf of African leaders. And she did. I do not agree that Nigeria was insulted in any way.
“It was good that President Jonathan attended the memorial service and that Nigeria is in solidarity with the South Africans. If every leader who attended the service had been asked to say a word, the event would not have ended.
“There were many other leaders at the event, whose countries have strong historical and political ties with South Africa, but who did not speak. I have not heard their compatriots crying like babies.
“This is obviously a further indication of a rising, minority tendency to read the negative into every official item.”