The Action Congress of Nigeria on Thursday warned the Special Adviser on Media and Publicity to the President, Dr. Reuben Abati, not to use foul language on critics of the Goodluck Jonathan administration.
The ACN said such “crude verbal attacks” might boomerang on the Presidency if left unchecked.
In a statement by its National Publicity Secretary, Alhaji Lai Mohammed, the party said there was a difference between a vicious verbal attack and a robust response to critics of the administration.
The ACN said, “Contrary to what Abati may think, ‘attack’ and ‘criticism’ are not synonymous. An effective presidential spokesman is not the one who employs gutter language to respond to critics of his principal, or one, who makes more enemies than friends for his boss, but one who is able to convey the activities and achievements of the President to the citizenry with dignified language.
“By virtue of what is believed to be his sound education, professional training and exposure, Abati should be well placed to know how to tell a man to go to hell and the man will still be smiling!
“To be sure, the use of dignified language by a presidential spokesman is important because whatever he says is believed to have emanated from his principal.
“It is therefore unimaginable that President Goodluck Jonathan will resort to the use of the kind of language that has been spewing out of the mouth of his spokesman in recent times.
“To the best of our knowledge, no presidential spokesman in Nigeria’s history has employed such base language in defence of his principal.”
The party noted that using foul language to describe the critics of the President was “rude, crude, uncouth, unconscionable and uncalled for.”
The ACN added, “Dr. Abati, while you are free to exhibit your bombastic prowess, the rarefied realm of the Presidency is not the ideal place for that, because when those who are being assaulted with such words respond in kind, it debases the Presidency and ultimately hurts the occupier of the office. In a truly global world, such unrestrained response to critics of the presidency also hurts not just the President but the image of the entire country.
“Even if some critics use words that Abati finds annoying and insulting or engage in criticism that he deems unfair, it is still incumbent on him to avoid responding in kind, simply because he is not speaking for himself but for an institution. It is therefore not enough defence for him to say that he is responding in kind to critics of his boss.
“May we also remind the presidential spokesman that there will be life after that office, and that he should remember that in an era where the power of the written word has assumed more potency for various reasons, it is important to be more circumspect in tongue-lashing critics of the President.
“We will like to advise and encourage the presidential spokesman to learn to use facts and figures to counter whatever he considers an unfavourable criticism of his principal, instead of subsuming such under verbal pugilistic.”