FROM the Nigerian presidency came a strong-worded reaction on Thursday to the latest comments attributed to the National Publicity Secretary of Action Congress of Nigeria, Mr. Lai Mohammed, citing what
it described as a continued pattern of disrespect for the office and the person of President Goodluck Jonathan which has gone on for too long.
“We have observed what is obviously becoming a pastime of the National Publicity Secretary of the Action Congress of Nigeria (ACN), Alhaji Lai Mohammed, in disrespecting not only the Office of the President but also the person of President Goodluck Ebele Jonathan,” said a press release made available to media organizations within and outside Nigeria, signed by presidential spokesman Dr. Reuben Abati.
The presidency was reacting to a recent press release made in Lagos by Mr. Mohammed, where the latter had addressed the president’s remarks at a recent event in which the president had described the opposition parties as “one man shows” and that his party, the Peoples Democratic Party, was the only truly democratic party in Nigeria.
On Wednesday, the ACN Publicity Secretary reacted to the president’s remarks, asking President Jonathan to “look in the mirror” as the joke was on him. Mr. Mohammed said it was “a cruel irony” that the same president who “single-handedly” jettisoned his party (PDP) constitution to have his way in his choice of candidate for governor of his home state of Bayelsa would label another party as one-man shows.
According the ACN scribe, “Saying the PDP is the only truly democratic party and that other parties are one-man shows is a cruel irony, coming shortly after this same President (had) brushed aside the constitution of his party and single-handedly installed the Governor of his state.”
But Thursday’s counter-statement from the presidency took umbrage at Mr. Mohammed’s criticism of the president, saying that “the ACN spokesman obviously went overboard in the statement he made on Wednesday, which it saw as full of disparaging words about the President.
“Mohammed advised President Jonathan ‘to take a long, hard look at himself in the mirror if he truly wants to see the face of a party leader who is fast turning his party into a one-man show,’ because the President said his party, the PDP, is the only truly democratic party in Nigeria. The ACN spokesman also accused President Jonathan of failing to "show deep introspection in his public comments," of "rushing to exhibit soap-box mentality," and calling him "a highly partisan and easily excitable President."
“We consider this denigration of the Office and Person of the President in the name of opposition politics, as clearly unhealthy politics, and completely tactless.
Rejecting Mr. Lai Mohammed’s criticism of Mr. Jonathan, the statement described the president as “a humble gentleman who has shown his value at moments of deep crisis as a loyal and thoughtful leader,” citing the president’s “measured response” of the “constitutional crisis of 2010” as an example of his dignified leadership.
The statement described President Jonathan as “a highly experienced, scholarly and non-partisan President” who is inspired more by national interests in all his official duties, which include consecutive visits to opposition strongholds as Ogun and Anambra on important occasions organized by local opposition politicians.
“The Office of the President is a national institution that must survive its temporary occupants. Those who seem to be deriving childish excitement from attacking the President, under the guise of playing politics, should refrain from bringing that institution into disrepute,” said the statement.
In continued: “The time for electioneering campaigns and trying to score cheap political points, by any means possible, must be separated from the time for delivering dividends of democracy. The occupant of the Number One office in the land is father of all and not of one party.”
“President Jonathan's description of the PDP as the only truly democratic party should be seen as a wake-up call to other political parties, as well as political leaders, to live out their democratic pretensions in the full glare of the public. Is it not public knowledge that some political parties, despite preaching democracy, lack internal democracy and thrive in imposing candidates? Indeed, we have seen a dominant culture whereby wives, children, in-laws and other family members emerge as candidates without credible primaries in the same political parties that the President complained about.
“Alhaji Lai Mohammed needs to be reminded that the ACN's culture of throwing abusive and disparaging comments is getting out of control. His attention also needs to be drawn to the fact that even in the South West where the ACN claims to run the show, the party’s intolerance seems to have heightened after recent losses in some states of the region causing the true character of its leaders to emerge under pressure.
“Now after openly insulting Governor Olusegun Mimiko of Ondo State and calling for "his removal" at a Tuesday event at the Lagos City Hall, which was meant to deliberate on unifying the Southwest, for no other reason than that Mimiko refused to "see the light" and cross over to the ACN, should it not become clear to all that Mr. President's words were indeed justified?