By Johnbosco Agbakwuru
THE Presidency on Sunday described the repeated sentiments being played around a recent video clip by the opposition Peoples Democratic Party, PDP, as a complete waste of time.
The Presidency also that said what PDP was doing is ‘playing the devil’s card’, which is all about suggesting ideas into people’s heads, adding that the truth does not matter in such an atmosphere.
The PDP had in the last few days addressed several press briefings over the video clip, showing the Chief of Staff to the President, Professor Ibrahim Gambari, chatting along a walkway in the Presidential Villa, with former Chairman of the ruling All Progressives Congress, APC, Comrade Adams Oshiomhole.
The PDP, as well as many commentators, had picked out a part where the word ‘arrest’ was mentioned and had imputed many interpretations to it.
But, a Presidency source, who spoke on the condition of anonymity told State House correspondents that the opposition party chose a wrong person, the Chief of Staff to the President, to malign, noting that the many efforts so far put into discrediting Gambari had continued to fail in the face of his solid credibility.
The source was reacting to the recent call by the PDP to the United Nation, UN, the European Union, EU and other international bodies to place visa restriction on Gambari, Oshiomhole, and other individuals as punishment for allegedly plotting to truncate democracy and good governance in Nigeria.
Despite the Presidency’s clarification and assurances by President Muhammadu Buhari and the Independent National Electoral Commission, INEC to ensure free and fair poll in the state, the PDP has called on the international community to deny visas to members of the APC for allegedly plotting to endanger democracy and enthrone bad governance.
Recall that at a press conference last week, the National Chairman of the PDP, Prince Uche Secondus, was quoted to have said “we wish to also, draw the attention of the international community to this gross abuse of power to undermine the democratic process by critical staff that should defend it.
“We demand appropriate sanction of the individuals involved in this anti-democratic act; they should be given visa restrictions to any democratic countries.
“The interest and will of the people of Edo State should be paramount in all decisions and that should guide any action either by the INEC or the government. PDP remains vehemently opposed to any postponement of Edo and Ondo States governorship elections. September 19 and October 10 should be sacrosanct.”
However, the Presidency source said the Chief of Staff was only doing his job of leading the former APC National Chairman to meet with the President, noting that Oshiomhole had repeated what he said in the video at a press briefing after meeting with the president.
Oshiomhole, had while briefing State House Correspondents, after meeting with President Buhari, said he came to plead with the President to ensure security for the upcoming Edo State governorship election, citing threats of violence by the opposition.
He said, “Lastly is to say that the outgoing governor is talking more about violence and violence. You must have watched him on Channels Television where he said he will meet violence with violence and we are saying no, there will be no violence, it will be like celebrating Christmas or going to do a plebiscite between MoU, which Edo people have now codenamed ‘memorandum of underdevelopment’ and a governor with a clear simple agenda, which is the product of his brains.
“So I shared these with Mr President and I said all we just need is good security. If APC man commits an offence, arrest him, if a PDP man commits an offence, arrest him.
“Once it’s not all about sermon, sermon does not change the heart of the devil. What changes the heart of men is the fear of sanctions.
” Once one person is arrested from APC, another person is arrested from PDP, if they are found involved in unlawful possession of firearms and they misuse those firearms and they are arrested and prosecuted, the message is clear.”
But the Presidency source wondered why the PDP had decided to mudsling with what he described as “incomplete information”, saying no one knew how the conversation started or how it ended.
“What PDP is doing is called ‘playing the devil’s card’, which is all about suggesting ideas into people’s heads, the truth does not matter in such an atmosphere. What I am convinced of is that even the leaders of the PDP know what they are doing is wicked and unethical, but since it is politics, they believe anything goes.
“How do you know the ‘arrest’ in the conversation is for PDP elements? The target in this mudslinging is the Chief of Staff to the President, but their mistake is that this is not a man for this sort of politics. He’s way above petty politicking. He’s a career diplomat and hardly interested in this kind of politics, those who know him, know this much about him”, he said.
It would be recalled that Gambari was appointed Buhari’s Chief of Staff after the death of Abba Kyari in May.
An indigene of Kwara state was appointed chairman of the United Nations Special Committee Against Apartheid in 1990, a position he held till 1994. He became Ambassador and Permanent Representative of Nigeria to the United Nations in 1990 and served there for 9 years.
Between 1999 and 2005, he served with the United Nations as the first Under-Secretary-General and Special Adviser to the Secretary-General in Africa. At about the same time, he was the Resident Special Representative of the Secretary-General and Head of the United Nations Mission to Angola. He was also the head of the UN Department of Political Affairs between 2005 and 2007. The professor is also a one-time Minister for External Affairs (1984-1985), joining the African Union at the time as a national delegate.