Omololu Ogunmade, Adedayo Akinwale in Abuja
The federal government Wednesday in Abuja accused the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) and its presidential candidate, Alhaji Atiku Abubakar, of plotting to frustrate the administration of President Muhammadu Buhari and make the country ungovernable.
Addressing journalists in the State House after the Federal Executive Council (FEC) meeting, the Minister of Information and Culture, Alhaji Lai Mohammed, decried the PDP’s style of opposition, saying it smacks of desperation and unpatriotic politics, whose effects, he said, might be counter-productive if allowed to persist.
The minister, who added that PDP’s brand of opposition politics was alien to the culture of Nigeria’s democracy, reiterated that the opposition party had deployed the power at its disposal to sabotage the government of Buhari and overheat the polity through its utterances and press statements.
Warning that if the party does not have a rethink, it may soon find that it has crossed the line, Mohammed was quick to insinuate that the comment earlier made by Atiku before the 2019 general election that if Buhari was not voted out, killings by herdsmen would continue, seems to be playing itself out already.
His words: “The federal government has strongly decried the increasingly unpatriotic and desperate opposition politics being played by the PDP and its presidential candidate, Alhaji Atiku Abubakar, warning that such dead-end opposition could be toxic for the nation’s democracy, if left unchecked.
“Never in the history of politics in Nigeria has an opposition party and its presidential candidate exhibited the kind of desperate tactics being deployed by the duo of the PDP and its flag-bearer, especially since President Muhammadu Buhari overwhelmingly defeated Atiku to win the 2019 presidential election.
“Either by themselves or via their proxies, the PDP and its presidential candidate are doing everything possible to sabotage the Buhari administration, generally overheat the polity and make Nigeria seemingly ungovernable, especially through their public utterances and their poorly-thought-out press releases before and after the 2019 general elections. Unless they quickly retrace their steps, they may, sooner than later, overreach themselves.
“For those who may be quick to accuse the government of crying wolf, the pre-election statement credited to the former vice president, that unless Nigerians vote out the APC administration, killings by herdsmen will continue and ultimately spark a series of ethno-religious crises that will be irreversible, is looking more like a Freudian slip than anything else.”
Mohammed also took on the PDP over what it described as the party’s attacks on the judiciary, describing such perceived attacks on the final arbiter as the antithesis of the earlier claim by the party that it had clear evidences of electoral fraud against the president.
Furthermore, Mohammed threatened that the emergence of “a faceless group” calling for the ouster of a democratic government was treasonable, alleging that the decision of Atiku to associate himself with anti-democratic forces and also engage in frivolous expressions beats the imagination.
He further threatened that a situation where the opposition is seeking a redress in court and yet resorting to what he termed self-help was unacceptable, describing the alleged attacks on the judiciary as anti-democratic and unconscionable acts.
The minister described the actions of both the party and its presidential candidate as unfashionable, more so that they have the opportunity of seeking a redress in the court as the president did three times.
Finally, Mohammed advised the PDP to avoid sounding alarms of war and rather face its election petitions at the tribunal to underscore its faith in the judiciary and stop overheating the polity.
Mohammed added: “Also, in recent times, the PDP has taken its desperation to a new low by attacking the judiciary, an action many see as indicating a reversal of the party’s hitherto self-assured stance that it has a solid case against the election of the president. And either by coincidence or orchestration, a faceless group emerges from nowhere calling for an overthrow of a democratically-elected government, a totally egregious act of treason.
“It beggars belief that a candidate who prides himself as a democrat can so allow desperation to becloud his sense of propriety to such an extent that he will be associating with anti-democratic forces and making inflammatory statements. For acclaimed democrats, there are acceptable channels of seeking redress after an election defeat. Even President Buhari himself went to court three times to challenge election results.
“What is not acceptable is to either resort to self help after an election defeat, or to embark on a journey of subterfuge and sabotage while also mounting a legal challenge or pretending to do so. Worst still, painting the judiciary bad for whatever reason is anti-democratic and unconscionable.
“We want to urge the main opposition party to stop beating the drums of war and concentrate on the legal challenge by its candidate against the election of President Buhari if indeed they have any faith in the country’s judiciary, and desist from unnecessarily overheating the polity.”
Your Allegations Irresponsible, PDP Replies FG
The PDP reacted swiftly last night, describing the allegations by the federal government as irresponsible.
It said the federal government should stop inventing excuses and making frivolous allegations of treason for its mass failures.
The party in a statement Wednesday by its National Publicity Secretary, Mr. Kola Ologbondiyan, stressed that the expectation of Nigerians is for the Buhari presidency to live up to the demands of his office instead of blaming the PDP for its self-inflicted woes.
It said: “Alhaji Lai Mohammed has once again veered off issues of governance and dwelt on hauling insults, misplaced accusations and threats against our party and our presidential candidate, Atiku Abubakar.”
It said the minister’s tone betrayed the frustration of a failed administration seeking excuses and scapegoats, instead of accepting its failures and self-inflicted woes.
According to the PDP: “It is equally undisputable that the All Progressives Congress (APC), within a period of four years, has wrecked our democratic structures, relegated and harassed judicial officers, disregarded our laws and judicial pronouncements, divided our people and practically brought our nation to its knees only for them to now turn to look for scapegoats where there are none.
“It is, therefore, unfortunate that the Minister of Information and Culture could suddenly take recourse to making irresponsible allegations against the PDP and our presidential candidate instead of accepting their failures.”
The main opposition party said it is incontrovertible that the PDP, as a highly responsible political party, committed to the unity and stability of the nation, nurtured the country’s democracy for 16 years and has continued to express its full respect for every arm of government, including the judiciary.
The PDP said it is instructive to state that, in the course of serving the nation for 16 years, the party was never known for intimidating and harassing judicial officers at any level.
It noted that as a party, the PDP considers it awkward for the APC and its government, under whose only four-year tenure, the judiciary has been thoroughly embarrassed, to make frivolous allegations against the party and its presidential candidate.