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Published On: Mon, May 12th, 2014

Presidency, APC trade words on auto-pilot claim

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apc logoBy Umar Muhammad Puma, Abuja & Ayodele Samuel, Lagos

The Presidency and the All Progressives Congress (APC) yesterday traded words over the latter’s claim that Nigeria is on auto pilot.

Speaking at a World Press Conference in Lagos, yesterday Interim National Chairman of the party, Chief Bisi Akande, said the Jonathan-led administration has failed in its primary responsibility to protect Nigerians from the menace of Boko Haram and has left the Nigerian people to fend for themselves and cover up governmental shortcoming.

“It is exactly 26 days after over 200 of our daughters in Chibok, Borno state, were abducted by Boko Haram insurgents. Twenty six days later, we neither know where they are nor are we any close to knowing it, going by available information. Yet, 11 more girls have been abducted in Warabe.

“Our nation faces a most severe and unfair test. The decisions and actions taken in the next few weeks and months may well determine whether we emerge from the pit into which violent terrorism has pushed us or shall we sink deeper still into lawlessness and disorder”.

He added that since January 2014, Boko Haram has killed over 1,500 people, mostly civilians, and that figure does not include the 95 people who died in the two bombings in as many weeks at Nyanya in Abuja, nor does it include the over 150 who were killed in Gamboru, Borno state, last week.

“We are asking: How did we get to this sorry pass? Could we have averted the situation in which we have now found ourselves, a situation in which Africa’s most populous nation, and one said to have the largest economy on the continent, is now lying prostate, begging the world for help? How did a country that has been at the vanguard of maintaining peace in other countries since 1960 now become something of a panhandler? How can we restore peace to our country and provide safety and security for our people?

“As a party, the APC has watched with great trepidation the deteriorating state of our country and its security institutions. We have consistently offered suggestions on how to resolve this crisis. We have said only a non-partisan approach can help resolve the huge crisis we face, even though the Jonathan Administration has pointedly ignored this. But we remain undaunted.

“All through these attacks, what the Federal Government did was to issue tepid statements commiserating with the victims and their families, vowing to hunt down the culprits and bring them to justice, and then telling a bewildered nation: ‘We are on top of the situation’.”

On the abduction of over 200 school girls in Chibok, the party warned against wasting valuable time on finger-pointing and senseless politicking, and concentrate on the rescue mission.

However, while reacting to the APC’s position, the Special Adviser to the President on Media and Publicity, Dr. Reuben Abati said, “First, we consider it most unfortunate that the chairman of the APC will use the opportunity of the situation in the country, namely the abduction of the girls of GSSC, Chibok, to engage in partisan blackmail.

“The issue of national security should go beyond partisan politics. This is a very serious moment requiring seriousness. But to reduce all of that to partisan politics is in bad taste , it is irresponsible one-upmanship.

“One, Nigeria is not on auto pilot. There is a government in place; there is a President, who is also the Commander-in-Chief of the Armed Forces. He is doing his very best to provide quality leadership and to reassure Nigerians that government stands ready always to defend their best interest.

“This administration has continually showed courage and commitment in the face of whatever challenges that may arise. To give the impression that the President is doing nothing is dishonest. This government is not mouthing meaningless phrases; this government is not engaging in blame game. This government has a job to do and it is doing the job.

“They cannot say that government is on auto-pilot in the face of all the achievements of this administration in the rail sector, health, aviation, foreign relations, transportation, trade and investment and in every sector.

“If Chief Akande wants to be honest with himself, he will say the truth and the truth will be that this country has been moved forward by President Jonathan, that we are not at the level we were at the time President Jonathan assumed office in 2011,

“So to say the country is on auto-pilot is unpatriotic because it is a lie”, he stated.

This is not the occasion for politicking, campaigning about 2015 and trying to run down the country” he stated.

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