- Your new stand unfortunate, says Presidency
From Ayodele Samuel, Lagos
Former Head of State and a national leader of the opposition All Progressives Congress (APC), General Muhammadu Buhari, yesterday raised the alarm that President Goodluck Jonathan has brazenly declared war on Nigerians.
Buhari, who spoke in his capacity as an elder statesman and a stakeholder in the Nigerian project, urged Jonathan to pull the brakes on his administration’s “runaway train of impunity”, in the interest of Nigeria’s survival and the sustenance of the nation’s democracy.
The former military leader, in a statement issued in Kaduna, said the recently induced impeachment or threats of impeachment of governors of opposition states, just to decapitate the opposition, does not augur well for the survival of a fragile nation like Nigeria or the survival of its tenderfoot democracy.
He said the recent developments in the polity have become an unwelcome distraction for the nation’s ongoing survival battle against the terror group, Boko Haram, which, he said, has put Nigeria on the tenterhooks, with innocent citizens being daily mowed down at the times and places the group chooses, and with over 200 schoolgirls spending their fourth month in precarious captivity.
“Whether or not President Goodluck Jonathan is behind the gale of impeachment or the utilization of desperate tactics to suffocate the opposition and turn Nigeria into a one-party state, what cannot be denied is that they are happening under his watch, and he cannot pretend not to know, since that will be akin to hiding behind one finger.
“In my capacity as an elder statesman, rather than a politician, I have spoken to President Jonathan in private over these issues, but indications are that the strategy has not yielded positive fruits. I cannot, just because I am an opposition politician, fail to do what is expected of me as an elder statesman to help rescue our nation in times of great trouble and palpable uncertainty.
‘’History will not be kind to me if I sit back while things turn bad, just so that no one will accuse me of partisanship. Yes, I am a politician. Yes, I am in the opposition. Yes, there is the tendency for my statement to be misconstrued as that of a politician rather than a statesman. But I owe it as matter of duty and honour, and in the interest of our nation, to speak out on the dangerous trajectory that our nation is heading.
“I can say, in all sincerity, that I have seen it all, as an ordinary citizen, a military officer, a head of state, a man who has occupied many other sensitive posts and a politician. I have been a close participant and witness to Nigeria’s political history.
“Our country has gone through several rough patches, but never before have I seen a Nigerian president declare war on his own country as we are seeing now. Never before have I seen a Nigerian president deploy federal institutions in the service of partisanship as we are witnessing now. Never before have I seen a Nigerian president utilize the common wealth to subvert the system and punish the opposition, all in the name of politics. Our nation has suffered serious consequences in the past for egregious acts that are not even close to what we are seeing now. It is time to pull the brakes”, Gen. Buhari warned.
He advised President Jonathan to tarry a while, take a deep breath and ponder the impact of recent events in the polity, under his watch, on the survival of the nation and the sustenance of its democracy.
The former head of state said subverting the Constitution in the desperation to impeach a state governor or deploying the institutions of state, some of which are symbols of the country’s unity, just to kick an out-of-favour state governor in the groin, can only breed anarchy and lead the nation down the slippery slope to perdition.
“The dangerous clouds are beginning to gather and the vultures are circling, and these have manifested in Nasarawa where the ordinary people have defied guns and tanks to protest the plan to impeach Gov.
Umaru Tanko Al-makura in a repeat of the bitter medicine forced down the throat of Gov. Murtala Nyako.
“The people’s protest in Nasarawa is a sign of what to come if the federal authorities continue to target opposition state governors for impeachment. In the long run, the impeachment weapon will be blunted.
Positions will become more hardened on both sides and Nigeria and Nigerians will become the victims of arrested governance and possible anarchy”, he further warned.
Buhari also warned President Jonathan to also remember that no democracy can thrive or survive without a virile opposition. Hence, he further warned, it will amount to a man cutting his nose to spite his face for anyone to embark on a journey to decapitate the opposition, “as the current central government is doing.
He stressed that a man of power must realize that he cannot always do things just because he could do them. ‘’I, along with many other patriotic Nigerians, fought for the unity and survival of this country. Hundreds of patriotic souls perished in the battle to keep Nigeria one. The blood of many of our compatriots helped to water the birth of the democracy we are all enjoying today.
“Let no one, whether the leader or the led, the high or the low, a member of the ruling or the opposition do anything to torpedo the system. Let no one, whether on the altar of personal ambition or pretension to higher patriotic tendencies, do anything that can detonate the keg of gunpowder on which the nation is sitting. It is time for all concerned to spare a thought for the ordinary citizens who have yet to see their hopes, dreams and aspirations come to reality, within the general context of nationhood”, he further admonished.
Meanwhile, reacting to the statement by Buhari, the presidency said it was unfortunate that the former head of state has drifted from his recent statesman-like posture.
In a statement signed by Special Adviser to president on Media and Publicity, Reuben Abati, the presidency described Buhari’s position on Jonathan as unwarranted.
It urged the former head of state and other leaders of the All Progressives Congress (APC) to look inward for the problems bedeviling their party, rather than blaming President Jonathan for its woes.