BY BEN AGANDE
ABUJA— PRESIDENT Goodluck Jonathan, yesterday, admonished Interim Chairman of the All Progressives Congress (APC), Chief Bisi Akande, to stop being ill-mannered and hypocritical. He said the APC chieftain should respect his age and Nigeria.
The President was responding to comments attributed to Akande, weekend, that he was a “kindergarten” leader who treated national issues with levity.
In a statement by Dr Reuben Abati, President Jonathan’s Special Adviser on Media and Publicity, entitled: “President Jonathan to Akande: Respect the truth, your age and Nigeria,” the president said it was sad that Akande was denigrating the exalted office of the President of Nigeria.
Noting that he was yet to declare whether or not he would seek re-election, which he was constitutionally entitled to, he asked Akande and leaders of the APC to resolve their internal leadership problems arising from alleged ambitions of Asiwaju Bola Ahmed Tinubu and General Muhammadu Buhari (Rtd) instead of denigrating the president.
The statement read: “We have noted with dismay the continuation of efforts by leaders of the opposition to promote themselves and their party through the irresponsible denigration of President Goodluck Jonathan and the exalted office of the President of the Federal Republic of Nigeria. The interim National Chairman of the APC, Chief Bisi Akande sank to a new low in this regard, yesterday, when he rudely and falsely described President Jonathan as a “kindergarten” leader who treats national issues with levity.
“Chief Bisi Akande has every right to embark on a flight of fancy about the APC beating the PDP in the 2015 general elections, but he does no justice to his age and status when he resorts to propagating falsehood, wilfully insulting the President of his country, impugning his integrity and desecrating the very office which his party wishes to take over in 2015 by fair or foul means. We urge Chief Akande and his fellow-travellers to remember that there are laws against libel and defamation of character in this country even if there are no legal impediments to indecorous, hypocritical and unpatriotic vituperation.
“It is certainly rude, ill-mannered, uncharitable and hypocritical for Chief Akande to falsely and cavalierly allege that a President who toils tirelessly every day of the week, evolving and implementing workable solutions to Nigeria’s problems, is handling national issues with levity.
“Also, nothing else but gross ignorance and lack of consideration could have led Chief Akande to refer to a President who, having served as deputy governor, governor, vice president and president, has far more experience of governance at the highest level than him and his preferred “candidates”, as a kindergarten leader.
“By his very unguarded and intemperate outburst yesterday (Sunday), Chief Akande exhibited not only an unbecoming lack of respect for the person and office of the President of his country, but also a complete disregard for the patriotic feelings of the millions of Nigerians who voted for President Jonathan and who continue to appreciate his sincere efforts to positively transform the nation.
“It is very sad and unfortunate that unbridled ambition for the office they constantly impugn and denigrate has blinded Chief Akande and his ilk to the visible accomplishments of the Jonathan Presidency.
“Certainly, nothing else but a manic and unscrupulous quest for power could have led them to make such accusations against a President who, among other significant achievements, has been praised for his handling of the insurgency in some parts of Northern Nigeria where he has used a combination of diplomacy and targeted military force to contain the security threat.
“Nothing else but the relentless pursuit of narrow personal and sectional interests could lead them to make such claims about a President under whose leadership Nigeria’s economy has been promoted from a low income economy to a middle income economy by the World Bank and whose leadership has seen the Gross Domestic Product of Nigeria increase at an annual rate of over six per cent since he took office.
“Finally, though President Jonathan has not indicated whether or not he is interested in a second term, Chief Akande, who has taken stock of his party and seen that they have no electable presidential material is already trying to be clever by half by claiming the President is statute-barred from contesting in 2015, saying it will amount to a “third term”.
What the Constitution says
“If this is the winning strategy of the APC, Chief Akande has every reason to panic because the issue of eligibility for election into the office of the President has been settled by the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, 1999, as amended which provides as follows;
137. (1) A person shall not be qualified for election to the office of President if –
(b) he has been elected to such office at any two previous elections;
“President Goodluck Jonathan has been elected into office on only one previous occasion and is therefore not statute-barred from running.
“It is clear that the APC is seeking to bait the Presidency to respond to it to achieve two purposes. The first purpose is to get their name into the press and gain name recognition for their party. How pathetic. The second and more important reason is to divert the attention of the public from the festering feud between Muhammadu Buhari and Bola Tinubu over the overriding ambition of the two men which is threatening to tear the new contraption which is mistakenly referred to by the gullible as a party.
“To the discerning, it is only a matter of time before ambition sinks the APC boat. It is only 2013 and already the big masquerades in the party are using undemocratic words like “must”, “nobody can stop” and other military terms in discussing their presidential ticket.
“Our advice to the APC is this: treat your party like a democratic association and don’t mistake it for the Armoured Personnel Carrier (APC) that someone used to force his way to power.”