Jonathan Under Fire Over Baga Massacre, ‘Personal Battle’ With Amaechi

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The Action Congress of Nigeria (ACN) yesterday challenged the presidency on the state of the nation. ACN said Nigeria is “descending into despotism” with the manner the President is running its affairs.

Similarly, the Congress for Progressive Change (CPC) faulted Jonathan for not visiting Baga, the Borno State border town where many were killed when troops clashed with Boko Haram fighters.

In a statement by its National Publicity Secretary, Alhaji Lai Mohammed, the ACN said Dr. Jonathan was turning “from a democratically-elected President to a despot.”

The party alleged that national institutions had been “bastardised and compromised just to get at a political enemy in an open quarrel with Rivers State Governor Chibuike Amaechi.”

But presidential spokesman, Dr. Reuben Abati, in a statement last night, denied it all. He said President Jonathan “is a democratically-elected leader who is running a people-oriented, inclusive and progressive government.

“Rather than despotism, under the President’s watch, Nigeria’s democracy has been consolidated; the scope for human freedoms has been further expanded and there is respect for due process and the rule of law,” said Abati.

The ACN also said besides the “personal battle” the President is fighting against the Rivers State government, the government also challenged former Minister of Education Dr. Oby Ezekwezili and the spokesman of the National Emergency Management Agency (NEMA), Mr. Yushau Shuaib, for raising issues on the state of the polity.

Furthermore, Mohammed said: “The Jonathan Administration is anchored on a Transformation Agenda. But the only transformation that we can see is the one from a democratically-elected President to an Emperor, a despot.

“If the President is not prevailed upon to change course, Nigeria may be in for another season of anomie, reminiscent of the days of the maximum ruler who took the country to the brink before his sudden demise.

“The way President Jonathan is handling his political disagreement with a member of his party, Governor Rotimi Amaechi of Rivers State, has portrayed him as a leader who is willing to jettison democratic ideals and principles on the altar of personal ambition.

The party wondered why national institutions have to be “bastardized” and “compromised” just to get at a political enemy, specifically citing the role being played by the Ministry of Aviation, its parastatals, such as the Nigeria Civil Aviation Authority (NCAA), the Nigeria Airspace Management Agency (NAMA) and the Federal Airports Authority of Nigeria (FAAN), as well as the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) and the police, among others, in the Presidency’s clash with Amaechi.

“Like we said before, we are not perturbed by what is happening in the PDP. Our main concern is the fact that the party’s internal crisis is overheating the polity and threatening the country’s hard-won democracy.

“After the theatrics of the aviation agencies and their parent ministry, the EFCC has suddenly realised that the cost of the Rivers State’s plane was inflated by US$10 million while the police have sacked the secretariat of Obio-Akpo Local Government in Rivers.

“The question is, who gave the orders for the police to sack the secretariat, and in the process take sides with the President in the political disagreement with the governor?

“Which are the other national institutions that will be drafted into this scorched-earth campaign against a perceived non-conformist party member? If the President can go to this length against his own party man, what will he do against the opposition? Why is it that a democratically-elected President cannot be challenged by anyone, whether or not he is a member of his party?

“Also, the ferocity with which the Jonathan Administration went after a former Minister of Education, Mrs Oby Ezekwesili, for claiming that President Jonathan frittered away the $67 billion in foreign reserves which she said President Olusegun Obasanjo left behind in 2007; and the fate that befell NEMA spokesman Yushau Shuaib for daring to criticise the lopsided appointments in parastatals under the Ministry of Finance, are glaring actions of an administration that is bent on stifling Freedom of Expression.

“These anti-democratic measures will worsen as the 2015 elections approach. Therefore, all lovers of democracy must join us in speaking out against the Jonathan Administration’s descent into despotism.

“This is the only way to prevent a President’s desperation for power from torpedoing our country’s democracy. After all, a critical benchmark of a democratic society is the existence of a vibrant, free and independent media that will give the citizenry a platform to freely and vigorously debate current issues,” said the party statement.

The ACN also citing the report by the media rights group Committee to Protect Journalists (CPJ), on the occasion of this year’s World Press Freedom Day on May 3, as a global testimony to the worsening press freedom record of the Jonathan administration.

“According to the CPJ, Nigeria has become one of the worst countries in the world for deadly, unpunished violence against the press. Nigeria and Somalia are also the only African nations listed on the CPJ’s 2013 impunity ranking.

Yet, the government has not relented in its attacks against the media, Gestapo-style arrest of Leadership journalists; Fines slammed on Liberty Radio in Kaduna over a listener’s opinion on the so-called Good Governance Tour; Arrest of two journalists of the Kaduna-based Al Mizan newspaper and the ban on a documentary on poverty in Nigeria, just to mention but a few.

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