8th March, 2012
President Goodluck Jonathan has responded to Action Congress of Nigeria criticism of his assertion that his party, the Peoples Democratic Party is the only one that practices true democracy in the country today.
The president affirmed that he deserves respect from the opposition party as Nigeria’s leader.
ACN had in a statement signed by Lai Mohammed, its National Publicity Secretary yesterday, condemned the assertion of the President which it said was far from reality.
The opposition party, particularly, cited the manner Jonathan rode roughshod on the rules and regulations of PDP to impose his preferred candidate on PDP at the recently concluded Bayelsa State gubernatorial election.
But in a statement signed by Reuben Abati, his spokesman, President Jonathan said casting aspersion on the Office of the President and his person is becoming a pastime of the National Publicity Secretary of ACN.
While describing himself as “highly experienced, scholarly and non partisan,” President Jonathan cited several instances to justify his claim of lack of internal democracy in opposition parties, zeroing in particularly on ACN.
“The ACN spokesman obviously went overboard in the statement he made on Wednesday, which was 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.
“The ACN spokesman repeatedly resorts to personal attacks and disparaging remarks about the President. It is Mohammed who needs to take a long, hard look at himself in the mirror and ask whether his party is truly a democratic party.
“President Jonathan is a humble gentleman who has shown his value at moments of deep crisis as a loyal and thoughtful leader. Recall his measured response and handling of the constitutional crisis in 2010.
“Far from being excitable, Jonathan has handled unprecedented attacks on his character and Presidency with dignity and humour.
“A highly experienced, scholarly and non-partisan President Jonathan cannot fit into such negative space as cast by Mohammed.
“Only national interests have dictated this President’s governance policies, choice of states to visit and events to attend, as exemplified by his consecutive visits to ACN-controlled Ogun State to commission cement factories and attending the burial of the late Ikemba Nnewi, Dim Chukwuemeka Odumegwu-Ojukwu in APGA-controlled Anambra State.
“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.
“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 Southwest 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?”, queried the president who however refused to respond to the allegations that he single handedly imposed his preferred candidate on the Bayelsa people.
—Oluokun Ayorinde/ Abuja