By HENRY UMORU
ABUJA—THE Federal Government, yesterday, warned politicians against overheating the polity, just as it stressed that the unrelenting threats of impeachment against President Goodluck Jonathan should be handled with caution and maturity.
The Presidency also said though criticisms were good for democracy, the office of the President must be respected, adding that the issue should not be who occupies the office, but the office itself.
Speaking with newsmen, the Senior Special Assistant to the President on Public Affairs, Dr. Doyin Okupe, however, called for dialogue between the executive and legislature on the controversy over the unassented bills and non-implementation of resolutions.
Okupe who admitted that the National Assembly has the power to impeach the President, but not at the slightest provocation, said if democracy must succeed in Nigeria and interest of Nigerians put at heart, there must be understanding.
It will be recalled that the Senate last Thursday raised alarm over non-implementation of resolutions and the president not assenting to bills and threatened that it might result to impeachment.
Warns against overheating the polity
The Presidential aide who explained that the directive from the presidency for the Central Bank of Nigeria, CBN, to halt further proceedings on the proposed introduction of N5,000 notes was merely temporary, stressed that the move was to enable the CBN carry out the necessary enlightenment campaign. He added that the period would also allow for those who disagreed with the proposal to agree. According to him, “the President only said the action should be stopped for now.”
Appeals for moderation in criticisms
Okupe, who accused the opposition political parties as the mastermind of the fuel crisis protest, said, “the conflicts between President Jonathan and the National Assembly over the unassented bills and non-implementation of resolutions are not peculiar to Nigeria. But the attempt to always threaten the President with impeachment is not in the interest of democracy. In the United States with its history of over 200 years of democracy, only President Johnson was impeached in 1868, while President Bill Clinton was only impeached by the House of Representatives. The threat of impeachment to President Jonathan is too rampant.
“The intentions of the National Assembly and the President are the same, but in the process, there arose some conflicts. Our appeal is that there should be moderations. There is need to allow the temperature of the polity to calm down. We must ensure that it does not lead to strangulation in the polity. The legislators have the power to impeach the President, but not on every disagreement.
“If the President has not signed the bills passed by the National Assembly or implemented the resolutions, there must be some reasons lingering in his mind. It is better to err on the side of carefulness than to commit an error that would cause great crisis in the country”.
Opposition parties not fair to Jonathan
Okupe who called on the National Assembly to embrace dialogue, said there was nothing personal in the President not signing the bills and implementing the resolutions of the National Assembly, noting that “the President has not signed the bills is not an act of neglect by the President against the National Assembly, but there is need for the President to consult widely before signing such bills”.
Disgrees with Soyinka, Bakare on comments
He also commented on Professor Wole Soyinka’s assertion that President Jonathan was suffering from bad conscience over the Lagos fuel subsidy riots, said, “It is wrong for Prof. Wole Soyinka to say that the President is suffering from bad conscience. If he was, he would not have stopped the printing of the N5,000 notes. It is equally wrong for Pastor Tunde Bakare to say that what the President said could be summarized as Bunkum, which means rubbish. This is not fair. Today, Jonathan is the President of the Federal Republic of Nigeria and any other person could be President after him and therefore there is the need to accord respect to the office of the President.”
On those that sponsored the fuel crisis in January, he said President Jonathan was referring to opposition political parties that are masquerading as civil rights activists, adding, “people being referred to by the president are those that competed with him and those who want to bring the Arab Spring Revolution to Nigeria”, explaining that it was some disgruntled politicians who were behind the crisis.