President Goodluck Jonathan, yesterday reacted to criticism of his government by opposition leaders during the national convention of the Action Congress of Nigeria, ACN, last week in Lagos, dismissing them as people who do not have what it takes to move the nation forward.
The president who spoke through his Senior Special Assistant on Public Affairs, Dr. Doyin Okupe, at a press conference in Lagos condemned the ‘penchant’ of opposition leaders to denigrate the government and the nation, and assured that the government will not be distracted by their ‘empty’ criticisms in its unrelenting drive to transform the nation’s social, economic and political landscape.
He described General Muhammadu Buhari and Senator Bola Ahmed Tinubu, who criticised his administration at the convention as “heavily burdened political liabilities.”
He also reacted to the decision of two nominated members of the Boko Haram committee, Mallam Shehu Sanni and Alhaji Datti Ahmed, to reject their membership of the committee, saying it was an unfortunate development which, however, will not affect the work of the panel.
Okupe said the two were included in the committee because of their earlier personal initiatives to help resolve the crisis, and that they should have seen their inclusion in the committee as an honour to serve the government and their country, as people in several other countries see such calls to service.
His assertions nonetheless, the Congress for Progressive Change, CPC, yesterday pressed further its allegations of incapacity on the part of the Federal Government saying the administration has wholly politicized the national security crisis in the country.
On corruption, the President’s adviser said it didn’t start with this administration, adding that a problem of about 50 years cannot be wiped out overnight.
Okupe also explained that it was in a bid to reinvigorate the anti-corruption war that President Jonathan overhauled the leadership of the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission, EFCC, and the Independent Corrupt Practices Commission, ICPC, saddled with the anti-corruption drive and also signed the Freedom of Information (FoI) Bill which two previous administrations refused to sign. He added that the President will continue to leave those in charge of EFCC and ICPC to rise up to the challenge.
Okupe also described newly-formed All Progressive Congress (APC), which comprises opposition political parties, as being made up of Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) renegrades, a “moribund and lack lustre” All Nigeria’s People’s Party (ANPP), and the ACN, “a one-man owned and controlled party with no form of internal democratic credential whatsoever and totally devoid of any form of modern liberalism.”
Said Okupe: “These sets of politicians who want to desperately supplant the Jonathan administration are promoting an incongruous alliance of political weaklings and dysfunctional Lilliputians out primarily to foster their ego and psyche being repeatedly frustrated political mongers; forgetting that one million giant ants can never muster the required strength to lift a concrete pole not to talk of a nationally entrenched pillar and structurally established institution like the PDP.
Carpets APC leadership
“In 2003, their choice was Vice President Atiku Abubakar who now knows them better. In 2011, it was a protégé of former President Olusegun Obasanjo, Mallam Nuhu Ribadu who fitted the slot although he was later betrayed and sacrificed on the altar of self-interest.
“Presently, the debates within the factionalized alliance suggest that they will not mind fielding another PDP stalwart as its Presidential flag bearer.
“It is clear that a party that consistently over a period of 12 years has been unable to find any suitable member from its own rank and file as presidential candidate has clearly exhibited its own structural and ideological weakness and its unsuitability as an organization capable of providing national leadership and can therefore not run an efficient or competent federal government in a country like Nigeria.
Okupe carpeted the ACN national leader, Senator Bola Tinubu, who spoke disparagingly about the Jonathan administration on issues bordering on economy, democratic governance and social security.
According to Okupe, “Senator Bola Tinubu who spoke about meager wages for public servants in Nigeria was known to have ignored calls of Lagos civil servants for a 7,500 naira monthly wage and when he eventually buckled to the pressure of Labour leaders, he wickedly sacked the major arrow head of the struggle in the person of Comrade Ayodele Akele who was never re-instated.
“The present National Chairman of the ACN,Chief Bisi Akande as Governor of Osun State during the same period denied workers of a 5,500 Naira minimum wage and eventually laid off over 9,000 workers during his four-year reign. Comrade Adams Oshiomhole, who was then NLC President and now Governor of Edo State led workers on protest march in Osun State during the period but Chief Akande remained adamant. Where then is the credential of these people to talk about job creation, promotion of workers interest and democratic etiquette?
“As I speak with you, Ekiti and Osun states which are being governed by these opposition political parties are embroiled in one form of industrial crisis or the other as a result of the insensitive, cruel and anti-workers policies of their present governors.
Don’t politicise national security — CPC
Pressing further its claim on the incapacity of the PDP-led administration to address the security situation in the country, the CPC in a statement issued by its National Publicity Secretary, Engr. Rotimi Fashakin cited the recent Boston bombing in the United States to show how government should be run.
The party said: “After the initial Presidential reticence in agreeing to amnesty for the Boko-Haram insurgents, and when confronted with reasoned argument, President Jonathan decided on commencement of talks ostensibly leading to amnesty. Yet again, Pastor Oritsejafor continued to obdurately urge the government not to yield to the dialogue option.
“As the President’s confidante, was he projecting the President’s unexpressed desire? This double-faced posturing by the Federal government is, undoubtedly, a show of its insincerity, which has quite rightly alienated some of the members of the proposed amnesty committee.
“Is it not a matter of concern that the more money voted to combat insecurity brings more insecurity, thereby giving justification for more Security allocation?”
“In the last two years, the Nigerian government has been patronizing ex-militant lords with hefty security contracts in a manner that showed abandonment of the constitutional function of the Nigeria Police. This government’s action, perceived as deleterious to the socio-political harmony of the land, is being intensified in other regions of the country, ahead of the regime’s preparation for another election in 2015…”
“The regime’s Propagandist machine has caused the Boko Haram phenomenon to defy reasonable logic. In February 2013, a French family of seven persons was held hostage by Terrorists in Cameroon. Boko Haram was reported to be responsible. They were allegedly brought to Nigeria by Boko- haram. The hostages were freed last week in Cameroon and released to the French government. Was it the ‘ghostly’ Boko haram that negotiated the hostages’ release with the French? Was any insurgent (in captivity in Nigeria) released in exchange for the hostages? How did Boko Haram cross (at will) Nigeria’s borders, with all the hostages, without the knowledge of Nigeria's large security apparatus? Shall we assume that Boko Haram has spread its operational base to Cameroon? Undoubtedly, this leaves many more questions than answers!”
“As a Party, we are not unaware of the desperation of the Jonathan regime ahead of the 2015 general election. The regime, in a despicable manner that is unprecedented, played up the fragile fault lines of ethnicity and religion for its own aggrandizement in delusive electoral victory in 2011. A regime that is unwilling and incapacitated in implementing none of the fundamental objectives (entrenched in the Nation’s statute book) now seeks to use unconscionable schemes to delude, confuse and over-awe the citizenry, ahead of the next general election in 2015. We stand shoulder to shoulder with the Nigerian people in ensuring the noble ideals of the rule of law reign in our land. We shall continue to campaign against the vestiges of impunity and all forms of corruption and corruptive tendencies that are prevalent in this PDP-led administration.”