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Jonathan becoming a despot — ACN

Written By Joseph Y. Musa on Monday, May 06, 2013 | 5/06/2013 07:42:00 pm

The Action Congress of Nigeria has said that the President Goodluck Jonathan Administration is steadily descending into despotism.

The ACN, in a statement on Sunday by its National Publicity Secretary, Alhaji Lai Mohammed, criticised the way the President had been handling his disagreement with a member of his party, Governor Rotimi Amaechi of Rivers State.

The opposition party said the disagreement had portrayed Jonathan as a leader who was willing to sacrifice democratic ideals and principles on the altar of personal ambition and accused the President of using national institutions against perceived enemies.

It said the Jonathan’s administration had a growing inclination to denigrate opposition leaders.

It said, ‘’The Jonathan Administration is anchored on a transformation agenda. But the only transformation that we can see is the one from a democratically-elected President to an Emperor, a despot.’’

‘’If the President is not prevailed upon to change course, Nigeria may be in for another season of anomie, reminiscent of the days of the maximum ruler who took the country to the brink before his sudden demise.’’

The party wondered why national institutions had to be bastardised and compromised just to get at a political enemy.

The ACN stated, ‘’Like we said before, we are not perturbed by what is happening in the Peoples Democratic Party. Our main concern is the fact that the party’s internal crisis is overheating the polity and threatening the country’s hard-won democracy.

“After the theatrics of the aviation agencies and their parent ministry, the EFCC has suddenly realised that the cost of the Rivers State’s plane was inflated by US$10m while the police have sacked the secretariat of Obio-Akpor local government in Rivers.

“The question is: Who gave the orders for the police to sack the secretariat, and in the process take sides with the President in the political disagreement with the governor?

“Which are the other national institutions that will be drafted into this scorched-earth campaign against a perceived non-conformist party member?”

The party said if the President could go to that length against his own party man, he would do worse things against the opposition

It asked why a democratically-elected President could not be challenged by anyone, whether or not he was a member of his party.

The ACN also expressed concerns at the growing propensity of the administration to stifle the freedom of expression and freedom of the press.

It cited the report by the media rights group, the Committee to Protect Journalists, on the occasion of this year’s World Press Freedom Day on May 3.

According to the ACN, this is a global testimony to the worsening record of the administration as far as press freedom is concerned.

The party stated, ‘’According to the CPJ, Nigeria has become one of the worst countries in the world for deadly, unpunished violence against the press. Nigeria and Somalia are also the only African nations listed on the CPJ’s 2013 impunity ranking.

“Yet, the government has not relented in its attacks against the media: Gestapo-style arrest of Leadership journalists; Fines slammed on Liberty Radio in Kaduna over a listener’s opinion on the so-called Good Governance Tour; Arrest of two journalists of the Kaduna-based Al Mizan newspaper and the ban on a documentary on poverty in Nigeria, just to mention a few.”

It also listed the way the Jonathan administration allegedly went after a former Minister of Education, Mrs Oby Ezekwesili, for claiming that President Jonathan frittered away the $67bn in foreign reserves which she said President Olusegun Obasanjo left behind in 2007.

Another example by the ACN was the fate that befell National Emergency Management Agency spokesman, Yushau Shuaib, for daring to criticise the lopsided appointments in parastatals under the Ministry of Finance..

‘’These anti-democratic measures will worsen as the 2015 elections approach. Therefore, all lovers of democracy must join us in speaking out against the Jonathan Administration’s descent into despotism,” the ACN said.

But the Presidency described the statement by the opposition party as another attempt to stand the truth on its head.

In a statement by the President’s spokesman, Reuben Abati, the Presidency said those who did not allow freedom and equality in their parties were the same ones who are now quick to accuse others of despotism.

Abati said the ACN should start by removing the log in its eyes.

The statement read, “ The latest press statement by Lai Mohammed of the Action Congress of Nigeria, in which he claims, wrongly as always, that the Jonathan administration is ‘descending into despotism,’ represents yet another attempt by the ACN and its spokesperson to stand the truth on its head and indulge in the politics of abuse. They should not be allowed to get away with their perfidy.

“President Jonathan is a democratically elected leader who is running a people-oriented, inclusive and progressive government. Under his watch, Nigeria’s democracy has been consolidated; the scope for human freedoms has been further expanded and there is respect for due process and the rule of law. Ordinary Nigerians appreciate the fact that they have a President who is humane, disciplined and focused.

“Does Lai Mohammed know the meaning of the word, despotism, or is he just throwing the word around for onomatopoeic effect? He and his sponsors are in fact beneficiaries of the openness and freedom that this administration promotes.

“The paradox is that those who do not allow freedom and equality in their own party or backyard, those who are well known as self-proclaimed Godfathers and closet despots, are the same ones who are now quick to accuse others of despotism. The ACN should start by removing the log in its eyes. President Jonathan is not a despot. ACN is the real abode of budding despots in Nigeria.

“The Transformation Agenda which Lai Mohammed tries to pooh-pooh is a well thought-out blueprint on the basis of which this administration continues to serve the interests of the people and move the country forward.”

Abati said the ACN’s allegation that there is a disagreement between Amaechi and the President was also “wrong-headed and mischievous.”

He said Amaechi had publicly stated that the allegation was a piece of fiction created by certain persons and the media.

Abati insisted that Jonathan was not engaged in any quarrel or dispute with Amaechi.

Abati added that it was wrong to use the matter of the aircraft that was grounded by the aviation authorities to concoct stories of persecution.

“The institutions involved have offered reasons publicly why they took their decision with regard to the unlicensed aircraft, which in any case is an asset of the state, not the governor’s personal property. The President has nothing to do with that incident,” he said.

The Congress for Progressive Change on Sunday agreed with the ACN that the Jonathan’s administration was becoming despotic and that things were likely to go worse as the 2015 elections get nearer.

Spokesman for the CPC, Mr. Rotimi Fashakin, in a telephone interview with one of our correspondents said, “En-route 2015, we should begin to expect the Jonathan regime to be a lot more jittery. All these are signs of a dying regime, which has been the trade mark of dying regimes, they become very, very intolerant.

“I can tell you, what Nigerians are likely to see is incipient fascism.”

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