•Public officers must not be flippant – President
•NSA should not meddle in politics –PDP
From TAIWO AMODU & JULIANA TAIWO-OBALONYE, Abuja Sunday, April 29, 2012
• Photo: The Sun Publishing
President Goodluck Jonathan yesterday insisted that the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) is the most democratic party in Nigeria and was not responsible for the Boko Haram insurgency in parts of the North.
President Jonathan stated this in reaction to comments by the National Security Adviser, General Andrew Owoeye Azazi, that the PDP should be blamed partly for the security challenges confronting the country.
The NSA made the comment on Friday at the second South-South Economic Summit in Asaba, Delta State.
Jonathan, who fielded questions from newsmen while visiting the bombed office of THISDAY in Abuja, however, said he was yet to read what Azazi said to understand what he meant, but warned however, that it was very important for public officers to watch their utterances in order not to be misunderstood.
Also reacting fiercely to the NSA’s comments, the PDP took potshots at him, saying he lacked knowledge of the internal workings of the party. The party also told him not to meddle in politics. Said Jonathan: “I read in the newspapers some journalists quoting the National Security Adviser.
Until I read the script myself and listen to him, one thing I do know, like philosophers would say, that human beings disagree because people use different words to mean the same thing and use one word to mean different things. That is the primary reason for disagreement. That is why public officers like us are extremely careful because words are extremely elastic. So, sometimes, you have something in your mind you want to communicate, but the way you communicate it, different people will give different interpretations. That is why some human beings who don’t think are quarrelsome. When they hear something, they only understand it in one way. They don’t give the opportunity to look the other way.
“So, until I read it, I don’t believe the NSA mean that the practices in the PDP are anti-democratic. I cannot comment much on what happened in the First Republic, but the Second Republic that I marginally participated, an aborted republic, and this Third Republic that I am a key actor, presently as a member of the first eleven, I still see that the PDP is one of the most democratic parties. So, I don’t believe that it is undemocratic practices in the PDP that could give rise to Boko Haram or any other groups. So probably people need to ask NSA to explain what he really meant. I have read it from the papers. I don’t believe it is undemocratic practices of the PDP that gave rise to this or any other militant groups.”
Jonathan, who was accompanied by the Minister of Police Affairs, Capt Caleb Olubolade (rtd), and his senior aides, condemned attack on the media. He, however, urged the media not to relent in carrying out its duties objectively, assuring that the government was working hard to end the insurgency of terrorism and other activities of anti-state groups.
“From the beginning of these attacks on us as a nation, I have always maintained the position that terror attack on any part of the country is a terror attack on all of us and indeed the whole world.
Terrorists’ method is to ensure maximum damage that the whole world will begin to look at their direction for relevance. You see that this is a media house, not a government establishment. The media helps to inform all of us about what is happening. The media is now also a victim. “That is why we all as Nigerians, no matter what we do or where we come from, we must all join hands in fighting this terror. I can assure you that we will get over it. Other nations have passed through it. When I say that, Nigerians begin to misunderstand that we are just sleeping to wait that it will come and go like wind, no. We say that countries have faced it, U.S. has faced it and other countries too did. They are about to conquer it. We are working very hard. Our security services are working very hard and we will conquer it,” he said.
On the call to dialogue with the group, Jonathan said: “Those saying we should dialogue are correct. Those who are saying we should not dialogue are also correct. When we have a terror situation, you also look at global best practices. Just like war situations, you may dialogue, you may not dialogue depending on the circumstances. But we will exploit every means possible to bring this to an end.” In its reaction yesterday, the PDP through its National Publicity Secretary, Chief Olisa Metuh, dismissed Azazi’s submission “as a very poor reflection of the foundation and internal workings of the party as well as a wrong deduction on the roots of security challenges in the country.”
The party’s image-maker also advised “appointees of government to navigate only on the terrain where their authority would not be humbled by superior knowledge so as to avoid attracting undeserving and unnecessary ill-feelings for their principal.” Metuh insisted that contrary to the NSA’s assertions, the PDP remained the strongest catalyst for the unity and progress of Nigeria. Arguing that equity, fairness and inclusiveness have been the cardinal operative principles of the PDP since its formation, Metuh said the spread of all the offices in the party as well as in the Federal Government are firm demonstration that the PDP is a sure vehicle for every Nigerian to seek and realise political ambition notwithstanding the hindrances of tribe and religion.
“We wish to state without any ambiguity that our great party remains the only political party in Nigeria that is not owned by any ethnic group, person or group of persons. All Nigerians are equal stakeholders. All our special National Conventions for the election of our Presidential flag bearers since 1998 have seen candidates emerge on the strength of national unity, a common motif, which envisages that every section of the country, majority or minority, can aspire to the highest political office in our fatherland via a well-entrenched rotation and zoning principle in the constitution of our party.”
He further dismissed Azazi’s position that the process that threw up Jonathan as PDP presidential candidate fuelled ethnic distrust and mutual suspicion in the country.
“We wish to add that President Jonathan emerged with overwhelming votes of delegates from every state in the country, a feat that was again repeated in April 2011 general election, which, of course, has been adjudged the best in our recent history. It is therefore, a comment in grave error, a fatal diagnosis of facts for anyone to insinuate or directly assert that a section of the membership of the PDP or its foundation predisposes that only a certain section and not others will aspire to the highest office in the country.”
The PDP also said that the issue of insecurity predated the ascension of Dr Jonathan to the presidency.“While through the military and civilian administrations hitherto, the nation witnessed eruptions of religious violence, the Boko Haram insurgency, which itself predated the tenure of the current President, is only different in sophistication, which again is aligned to the sophistication in this ugly global trend of violence.”
The statement further said the PDP has been in the vanguard of the crusade against all forms of violence in the country and that it would not “cease assisting the National Security Adviser in as much as he remains focused in this job of securing the lives and property of Nigerians.” Also speaking to newsmen, Chairman/Publisher of THISDAY, Prince Nduka Obaigbena, said the media will never surrender to terror.
“It is an attack on the media and freedom of speech, but we will never surrender,” he said.
via Daily Sun
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