General News | 26 May 2011 19:43 CET

Youth Lunch With Jonathan Turns Into Another Bribe-Fest

By SaharaReporters

An event conceived as part of Jonathan's inauguration week has become a controversial bribe fest in Lagos, with about 400 participants receiving between N50, 000 and N150,000 each.

The event took place yesterday afternoon when Mr. Jonathan had a lunch date with "Nigerian youths" at the Eko Hotel in Lagos as part of his inauguration which takes place next Sunday. Organized by some young people who were involved in the "What About Us" election campaign, the event on the surface sounded legitimate.

A young person invited to the event from Abuja told SaharaReporters that the event was packaged as though Mr. Jonathan wanted to open dialogue with Nigerian youth but what came out was a sham.

He said, "Last week, I got a call about today's event and it was played up as a conversation with Mr. President, but what happened today was a charade organized by people passing themselves up as youth representatives, who in the reality were closet consultants to the President and his people."

It was a different scenario when he got there. "It wasn't a conversation, the speakers had been pre-selected," he lamented. “This is the latest Nigeria youth scam on the block."

But for some deliberate infusion of a few critical comments, the rest involved politically correct speeches and youth kissing up to GEJ, the participant said.

Another commentator told SaharaReporters that they were disappointed by the speech made by Nollywood actress Rita Dominic, who couldn't stop thanking Jonathan profusely for giving $200 million to Nollywood stars.

Another low for the event, according to another participant, was video footage of a British band called "Goodluck Jonathan" which had been shown to participants apparently to prove that Jonathan was a global icon who had inspired a foreign music band.

The event which had originally been put up as “frugal” event of N70 million ended up costing over N150m as some youth participants spent three days at the super expensive Eko Hotel prior to it. Also, some participants were flown from the UK and US.

The event's arrowheads include Chude Jideonwo of the “Future Project” and Amara Nwankpa, the youth who led a "LightUp Nigeria" campaign. Some participants said they felt scammed by the “What About US” campaign when Jonathan failed to honor a youth debate. They felt disappointed that the leaders of the campaign turned around and involved themselves with the monumental wastage of scarce national resources at a time the value of the national currency is going down, fuel scarcity has returned and the electricity situation is getting worse.

At the end of yesterday's event, which started at 12:30 and ended at 3pm, an announcement was made that participants would get reimbursement of their transport fare. That it turned to be a bribe fest as participants from Lagos were offered N50, 000 each while those from out of Lagos state were given N150, 000.

“Some 400 youths were essentially bribed by Mr. President,” said a participant who claimed to have rejected the gratification. As expected the gratification of participants has ignited a fierce debate on Twitter and other social media channels.

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