Of what use is a budget when lives of citizens are at stake? – APC

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The All Progressives Congress (APC) has described critics of its directive to its National Assembly members to block all legislative proposals as those who are either ignorant of the workings of democracy or those who have chosen to play to the gallery for pecuniary gains.

”Ether way, these critics have rushed to judgement without even taking time to study the directive, without understanding that governance is about people, and without caring about the principles of fairness, justice and equity, and they should cover their faces in shame,” the party said in a statement issued in Lagos on Sunday by its Interim National Publicity Secretary, Alhaji Lai Mohammed.

”We hereby reiterate the directive, which is a product of deep thinking and robust debate within our party’s NEC to save our democracy, and we commend our members in the National Assembly for their unequivocal support for our stand, and for understanding that filibustering or legislative non-cooperation are veritable tools of democracy,” it said.

APC said the directive is already yielding result, as members of the Save Rivers Movement (SRM) were able to stage a peaceful rally on Saturday, for the first time in a long time, without being attacked by hired ex-militants, because the Inspector-General of Police directed the police to provide protection for the rally.

”This is exactly what we are saying, that Nigerians, irrespective of their party leaning, who wish to stage a peaceful protest anywhere in the country must be able to do so without the police looking away while hired goons attack them. It is all about justice, fairness and equity, without which democracy will not thrive. We will be watching to see if what happened on Saturday represents a paradigm shift in Rivers or it is just a flash in the pan,” the party said

APC said there is nothing anti-democratic, anti-people or inciting about the directive, which is aimed at ending the reign of impunity in Rivers state before its spreads to other parts of the country and truncates the nation’s democracy, wondering why it is so difficult for the President to act, for almost a year, as a part of the country he was elected to govern goes up in flames.

The party said already, copy cat attacks and intimidation of APC members have been launched by the government and the police in Gombe, because they have been watching the impunity being committed in Rivers.

”All over Gombe, our party flags, billboards and posters are being vandalized by hoodlums aided and abetted by the police. Our youth supporters are being arrested while our members are being threatened by the police and the state government officials.

”From Rivers, this reign of impunity has spread to Gombe. Who knows where the train of impunity is heading to next. Yet, some so-called fickle analysts, some chameleonic activists who willingly pit their tents with the highest bidder, some increasingly irrelevant organisations and some political parties who are content with the crumbs that fall off the table of the ruling party have the temerity to condemn a directive they do not understand.

”They say the non-approval of the 2014 budget will pauperize Nigerians, as if the yearly ritual of budget passing since 1999 has benefitted anyone but the fat cats. In any case, of what use is a budget when the lives of citizens are at stake? Are budgets not made for the people? Do they understand that even the budgets are based largely on earnings from oil, which we cannot even produce if the violence in Rivers escalates and spreads to other oil-producing states?

”They say our directive is anti-people without understanding that those who are being daily intimidated, beaten and shot in Rivers are also Nigerians. They say we are anti-democratic without understanding that democracy cannot thrive in an atmosphere of impunity, the like of which we have in Rivers.

”Where were these same critics when the impudent police commissioner in Rivers, egged on by a conniving presidency, thumbed his nose at the Constitution by turning himself to the de facto Governor of the state and refusing to subordinate himself to the elected Governor who is the chief security officer of his state? Where were these critics when a serving Senator was shot perhaps by the police? Where were these critics when women and children were teargassed and innocent civilians beaten black and blue? Did they raise any voice against the attack on journalists whose offence was that they went to cover a rally?

”The APC, as a party, cannot be intimidated by the antics of those who will have no qualms elevating self interest above public interest, by those who believe their cheap criticism will help insert their snouts into the nectar of filthy lucre.

”Therefore, while we acknowledge the so-called critics’ right to express their opinions on our directive, we disagree with them, in the exercise of our own rights, and here reiterate the directive, which goes thus: ‘In view of the joint resolutions of the National Assembly on Rivers State, and other constitutional breaches by the Presidency, the APC hereby directs its members in the National Assembly to block all legislative proposals, including the 2014 budget and confirmation of all nominees to military and civilian positions to public office, until the rule of law and constitutionalism is restored in Rivers State in particular, and Nigeria in general’,” the party said.

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