Tuesday, 22 July 2014

Jonathan Has Declared War On Nigeria – Buhari

A leader of the All Progressives Congress (APC), Gen. Muhammadu Buhari (rtd), has raised the alarm over what he described as the deployment of federal might and the country’s resources by President Goodluck Jonathan in his bid to fuel partisanship, subvert the system and punish the opposition.

The impeachment of governors of opposition states, just to decapitate the opposition, he said, does not augur well for the survival of a fragile nation like Nigeria or the survival of its tenderfoot democracy. It is indicative of the fact that the president has declared war on his own country, Buhari noted.

But in a swift reaction, Jonathan told Buhari that his statement was a descent from the elder statesman he had once commended him to, saying that rather than blame him for the woes his party, the APC had inflicted on itself, Buhari and his party should work harder in putting their house in order and resolve the leadership crisis therein.

Jonathan said, “It is most unfortunate that instead of working to put their house in order and resolve the leadership crises and internal contradictions that have plunged their party into a downward spiral, General Buhari and his opposition allies have resorted to blaming a blameless President for their woes”.

In a statement he personally issued in Kaduna, the former head of state decried the recent induced impeachment or threats of opposition governors, accusing the president of subverting the Constitution of the Federal Republic in desperation. To impeach a state governor or deploy 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 stomach, he added, can only breed anarchy and lead the nation down the slippery slope to chaos. He 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.

He said: “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.”

Buhari advised President Jonathan to tarry a while, 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, who noted that he was speaking in his capacity as an elder statesman, noted that there was the possibility that his statement would be misrepresented as that of a politician rather than a statesman, adding however that, notwithstanding, he owed it as matter of duty and honour and in the interest of the country to bare his mind on dangerous political trends in the country.

Buhari alleged that developments in the polity, such as the festival of impeachment, was an unwelcome distraction for the nation’s ongoing survival battle against the Boko Haram sect, which has put Nigeria on tenterhooks, with innocent citizens being daily mowed down at the times and places of the group’s choosing, and nearly 300 schoolgirls spending their fourth month in precarious captivity.

He said: “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 former head of state, 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 a former head of state 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 state governor, a minister, 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 since independence in 1960.”

The APC leader, who further reminded President Jonathan that no democracy can thrive or survive without a virile opposition, noted that it would 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.

Pointing out that a man of power must realize that he cannot always do things just because he could do them, Buhari said: “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 AI-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.”

Recalling his role in the fight to keep Nigeria as one, Buharis said: “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 ensure the birth of the democracy we are practising 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

Don’t blame me for your party’s self-inflicted woes  – Jonathan

But hitting back at Buhari, President Jonathan last night described as most unfortunate Buhari and his allies’ decision to resort to the blame game against him instead of working hard to put their house in order.

Speaking through his special adviser on media and publicity, Dr Reuben Abati, the president said he received Buhari “wild and totally unsustainable allegations” against him with surprise and regret.

He, however, maintained that he remained “fully committed to upholding the letters, principles and spirit of the Nigerian Constitution as he has sworn, and defending the rule of law and integrity of the democratic process with all his might.

“It may well be time to pull the brakes, as General Buhari says in his statement, but it is he and others who have resorted to idle scapegoating and blaming President Jonathan for their self-inflected political troubles who need to stop their inexcusable partisanship and show greater regard for the truth, democracy, constitutionalism, the rule of law, peace, security and the well-being of the nation”, Abati added.

Noting that Buhari was no more the elder statesman he once commended him to be, Jonathan said, “Although he tries very hard to deny it in the statement entitled ‘Pull Nigeria Back From the Brink’, there can be no doubt that General Buhari has sadly moved away from the patriotic and statesmanlike position he recently adopted on national security, which President Jonathan publicly commended, and has now reverted to unbridled political partisanship.

“We, therefore, urge General Buhari to tarry a while, ponder over his own antecedents and do a reality check as to whether he has the moral right to be so carelessly sanctimonious.”

In a statement he issued last night, Abati said, “There can be no other explanation or justification for the completely unwarranted and very uncharitable assault on the conduct and integrity of President

Jonathan which the statement he issued represents.

“General Buhari’s main grouse, which clearly motivated his ill-considered statement, appears to be what he called ‘the gale of impeachments or the utilisation of desperate tactics to suffocate the opposition and turn Nigeria into a one-party state’.

“The processes for impeaching an elected governor are clearly stipulated in the nation’s Constitution which Nigeria has operated since 1999. The president of Nigeria is not assigned any role in that

process and President Jonathan has certainly not played any role in the recent impeachment of Governor Murtala Nyako of Adamawa or in the impeachment drama currently being played out in Nasarawa State”.

On the issue of plunging the country into a state of anarchy, Abati said, “General Buhari talks about anarchy; he needs to be reminded that President Jonathan, from his humble beginnings as a deputy

governor in Bayelsa State to date, has never in his acts, or utterances, recommended or promoted violence as a tool of political negotiation.

According to him, contrary to whatever General Buhari and his supporters may imagine, President Jonathan fully respects the rights, powers, authority and independence of elected representatives of the people, including the members of the state assemblies who have concluded or initiated impeachment proceedings against their state governors on grounds which they consider justifiable.

Defending the president on the impeachment saga, the presidential spokesman said, “The constitution does not give the President any power to intervene in such proceedings and President Jonathan has never arrogated such powers to himself or sought to exert any nefarious and unconstitutional influence on state assemblies in Adamawa, Nasarawa or anywhere else in other to secure undue political advantage for his party as General Buhari unjustifiably alleges.

“President Jonathan remains true to his declaration that no political ambition of his is worth the life of a single Nigerian. The president has definitely not declared war on his own country or deployed federal institutions in the service of partisan interests as General Buhari falsely claims. Neither has he been using the common wealth to subvert the system and punish the opposition, as the former head of state inexcusably asserts.

“Also, President Jonathan has never at any time ordered that any Nigerian should be kidnapped, or that anyone should be crated and forcefully transported in violation of decent norms of governance,” he said, in a veiled reference to the attempted, but unsuccessful abduction of the late Umaru Dikko from Britain to face corruption charges in Nigeria during the Buhari-Idiagbon military regime.

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