President Goodluck Jonathan has replied former head of state, Muhammadu Buhari, over the latter’s stinging statement on Monday, in which he accused him (Jonathan) of subverting the system and punishing the opposition, saying it was most unfortunate that the All Progressives Congress chieftain and his allies have resorted to the blame game instead of working hard to put their house in order.
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 issued last night by his Special Adviser on Media and Publicity, Dr Reuben Abati, the president said he received the former military ruler’s “wild and totally unsustainable allegations” against him with surprise and regret”.
In a statement which he personally signed on Monday in Kaduna, Buhari, in his first public reaction to the impeachment of former Adamawa State Governor, Murtala Nyako and a similar scenario now playing out in Nasarawa State, 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”.
But in a swift reaction, the president stressed 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”.
Abati continued, “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 allegation 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 the presidential spokesman, 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 his principal on the impeachment saga, Abati noted that “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 Minister of Transport during the Shehu Shagari democratic administration, late Umaru Dikko from Britain to face corruption charges in Nigeria during the Buhari-Idiagbon military regime.