The ruling Peoples Democratic Party, PDP and the opposition All Progressives Congress, APC are pitched in battle over claims that the troubles of the country are because the president is from a minority ethnic group.
By Emmanuel Aziken, Political Editor
It was probably a move by the highly recharged publicity machinery of the Peoples Democratic Party, PDP to make the opposition All Progressives Congress, APC look bad in the eyes of minority ethnic groups in the country. The PDP had three days ago accused oppositionists in the country of entangling President Goodluck Jonathan simply because he is from minority ethnic stock.
Noting the unending orgy of violence across some sections of the country and the ‘pledge’ by some opposition leaders ahead of the 2011 presidential election to make the country ungovernable if they lost the poll, the PDP said last Tuesday that nothing else could have explained the problems the country has found itself in.
“We accept the reality of terrorism as a global phenomenon, however, the peculiar trend of the Nigerian version which subsists on a welter of nebulous demands and masked identities, hacking down innocent Nigerians -women, children and the elderly in an awful scorch earth fashion, and in an obstinate ridicule of dialogue, defies all reason and logic and only summarizes a well considered agenda of national destabilization for a purely selfish political cause. We pointedly finger the opposition.”
The PDP which had about two weeks ago accused the APC of fanning a Janjeweed ideology that it claimed was bent towards anarchy therefore urged Nigerians to “rise against this brute ideology of violence from which a tiny clique of the political class intends to benefit ultimately. It is the climax of wickedness only heard of the Lucifer in the distant bosom of hell fire.”
The thrust of the PDP statement issued by its National Publicity Secretary, Chief Olisa Metuh was that even though the administration is performing, that some bigots who believe that Jonathan or someone from the minority should not govern the country should not be given credit. For about 24 hours after the statement was issued on Tuesday, no word was heard from the APC which was obviously the target of the statement.
There were, however, mutters here and there that the minority status of the president’s ethnic group could not have accounted for some slips made by the administration. But then, still no word from the APC.
So, on Wednesday Metuh again took his pen to reiterate his assertions saying the party stood by its allegation.
Metuh claimed that the party “noted spirited moves to politicise the content and direction of the last statement issued by the party wherein it alerted Nigerians on attempts by some unpatriotic elements to frustrate President Goodluck Jonathan using the promotion of insurgency in the country.”
“We wish to state categorically that we stand by our statement and restate our commendation to President Goodluck Jonathan for remaining undaunted and posting unprecedented achievements for the benefit of all Nigerians against all odds.”
“We challenge the opposition to a debate on the achievements of the PDP-led administration on zone by zone and sector by sector basis. The facts are there and the achievements are visible.”
This time, Alhaji Lai Mohammed, the National Publicity Secretary of the APC was sufficiently roused to come into the fray, and within 24, hours he was firing from all cylinders.
In a statement, yesterday, the APC said that Jonathan was not the first ethnic minority to rule the country as it flayed the PDP for stirring ethnic sentiments to cover up what it claimed as the alleged incompetence of the present administration.
The APC said the PDP’s claim that the Boko Haram insurgency and other internecine crises in the country were being sponsored by the opposition because the President hails from a minority group is totally irresponsible and absolutely not grounded in fact.
The party listed First Republic Prime Minister Tafawa Balewa (Sayewa) and military heads of state Yakubu Gowon (Angas) and Sani Abacha (Kanuri) as also being from minority ethnic groups.
By what parameter the party used in classifying minority and majority ethnic groups it, however, did not say.
Jonathan’s Ijaw ethnic group which is spread around all of the South-South states and the riverine areas of the Southwest is believed to be the fourth or fifth largest ethnic group in the country.
In its response the APC said: “The PDP has recently been making outlandish statements and accusations that are capable of destabilizing Nigeria. In its new found proclivity for issuing frivolous press statements, the party has forgotten that facts are sacred and cannot be manipulated. But even by its low standard, the PDP has plumbed the depth of irresponsibility with its latest claim.
‘’President Jonathan’s woes have nothing to do with his minority ethnicity, but the manifestation of his incompetence, cluelessness and inferiority complex, and the fact that he is backed by a greedy, visionless and crooked cabal, both within his government and his party,’’ APC said.
The party said if indeed the PDP believes the opposition is sponsoring Boko Haram to stop President Jonathan from realizing his so-called Transformation Agenda, what prevents the PDP-led Federal Government from instituting a probe into all the incidences so far, and to unravel the sources of the sect’s weapons, as demanded recently by Gov. Murtala Nyako?
While noting that religious and ethnic violence predated the Jonathan administration and the fact that the present insurgency started after the spat between security forces and the Islamic preacher, Mohammed Yusuf, the APC said:“Even then, the insurgency that could have been quickly curtailed has worsened under President Jonathan because of his ineffectual leadership. Instead of tackling the insurgency decisively as a well-honed leader would have done, the clueless President and his equally feckless party have resorted to blaming the opposition and everyone but themselves for the worsening of the crisis,’’ it said.
APC said the usual recourse to President Jonathan’s ethnic origin to cover his glaring non-performance does not impress Nigerians, who are aware that as a minority, Jonathan could not have become President without the votes of the country’s majority ethnic groups- Hausa/Fulani, Igbo and Yoruba.
‘’In any case, if the PDP is arguing that President Jonathan is being ‘persecuted’ because he hails from a minority ethnic group, is it the majority ethnic groups that supposedly voted massively for him that are now persecuting him? And what will be their reasons for persecuting the same man they voted into office?
‘’The truth is that President Jonathan is overwhelmed by the demands of his office, and his party is more interested in looting the public treasury than assisting him to succeed,’’ the party said. ‘’The President and his party should admit their failure to meet the yearnings and aspirations of Nigeria and give way to those who are willing and able to perform.’’