The war of words between opposition and presidency has continued, with presidential spokesman Reuben Abati issuing a strong-worded response to Gen. Muhammadu Buhari’s allegations that President Goodluck Jonathan was perpetrating illegalities.
Defending the president’s use of state power, Abati said: “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.
“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 1984, fugitive politician and former minister of transport, Alhaji Umaru Dikko, was abducted, crated and about to be forcefully returned to Nigeria from the UK as “diplomatic bag” allegedly to come and face charges of corruption when Buhari was military head of state. The baggage was eventually opened by British authorities.
The Buhari government denied any involvement in the saga, but that did not stop a face-off between UK and Nigeria, leading to a recall of high commissioners and a break in diplomatic relations for years.
The full text of Abati’s statement: “We have noted with much surprise and regret, the statement issued by General Muhammadu Buhari today in which he made some wild and totally unsustainable allegations against President Goodluck Ebele Jonathan.
“Although he tries very hard to deny it in the statement titled “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.
“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 today 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”.
“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.
“The processes for impeaching an elected Governor are clearly stipulated in the National 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.
“For the record, President remains 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.
“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.
“Contrary to whatever General Buhari and his new friends 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.
“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 order 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.
“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.
“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.”