Juliana Taiwo-Obalonye and Ndubuisi Orji, Abuja
The Federal Government has accused the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) and its presidential candidate, Atiku Abubakar of beating drums of war and “doing everything possible to sabotage” President Muhammadu Buhari’s administration.
Minister of Information and Culture, Lai Mohammed, who made the allegation when he addressed State House Correspondents at the Presidential Villa Abuja, described both the PDP and its presidential candidate as desperate and accused them of generally overheating the polity with the aim of making Nigeria ungovernable.
He described opposition politics being played by the PDP as toxic and a threat to the nation’s democracy.
However, both the PDP and Atiku have dismissed the allegation, which they described as “guilt-induced” and admission of failure
The minister said: “Never in the history of politics in Nigeria has an opposition party and its presidential candidate exhibited the kind of desperate tactics being deployed by the duo of the PDP and its flag-bearer, especially since President Muhammadu Buhari overwhelmingly defeated Atiku to win the 2019 presidential election.
“Either by themselves or via their proxies, the PDP and its presidential candidate are doing everything possible to sabotage the Buhari administration, generally overheat the polity and make Nigeria seemingly ungovernable, especially through their public utterances and their poorly-thought-out press releases before and after the 2019 general elections. Unless they quickly retrace their steps, they may, sooner than later, overreach themselves.
“For those who may be quick to accuse the government of crying wolf, the pre-election statement credited to the former Vice President, that unless Nigerians vote out the APC Administration, killings by herdsmen will continue and ultimately spark a series of ethno-religious crises that will be irreversible, is looking more like a Freudian slip than anything else.
“Also, in recent times, the PDP has taken its desperation to a new low by attacking the judiciary, an action many see as indicating a reversal of the party’s hitherto self-assured stance that it has a solid case against the election of the President. And either by coincidence or orchestration, a faceless group emerges from nowhere calling for an overthrow of a democratically-elected government, a totally egregious act of treason.
“It beggars belief that a candidate who prides himself as a democrat can so allow desperation to becloud his sense of propriety to such a extent that he will be associating with anti-democratic forces or making inflammatory statements. For acclaimed democrats, there are acceptable channels of seeking redress after an election defeat. Even President Buhari himself went to court three times to challenge election results.
“What is not acceptable is to either resort to self help after an election defeat, or to embark on a journey of subterfuge and sabotage while also mounting a legal challenge or pretending to do so. Worst still, painting the judiciary bad for whatever reason is anti-democratic and unconscionable,” Mohammed said.
The minister cautioned the main opposition party to stop beating the drums of war and concentrate on the legal challenge by its candidate against the election of President Buhari if indeed they have any faith in the country’s judiciary, and desist from unnecessarily overheating the polity.
But the PDP, yesterday, accused the Buhari administration of looking for scapegoats and excuses to justify its failures in the past four years.
In a statement by its National Publicity Secretary, Kola Ologbondiyan, the party said the minister’s tone betrayed the frustration of failed administration.
It urged the government to accept its failures instead of hauling insults at the opposition.
The PDP noted that while it nurtured the country’s democracy for the 16 years it was in power, the All Progressives Congress (APC) within a period of four years has wreaked democratic structures in Nigeria.
“The fact remains that the APC and its failed government owe it as a responsibility to be accountable to Nigerians; the PDP has a constitutional role to play in this accountability process and our party will not shy away from it.
“The PDP, therefore, charges the Federal Government to stop inventing excuses and making frivolous allegations of treason for its mass failures.
‘The expectation of Nigerians is for the Buhari Presidency to live up to the demands of their offices instead of blaming our party for their self-inflicted woes.”
Atiku, in a statement by his media aide, Paul Ibe, said if any one is beating the drums of war, it is those, who prior to the 2019 polls threatened Nigerians and foreigners alike with “body bags.”
He wondered how President Buhari, who overthrew the democratically elected government of Shehu Shagari in 1983 could turn round to accuse him, a known democrat of anti- democratic tendencies.
The statement read in part: “It is not surprising that such a despicable lie is emanating from Mr. Lai Mohammed, President Buhari’s aptly named Minister of Information.
“Lai Mohammed is so associated with lies that even Vice President Yemi Osinbajo said, on Monday, May 13, 2019, as follows:’People like Lai Mohammed, Abba Kyari, Adamu Adamu they are usually very well behaved during the Ramadan. But I’m not even sure that that is true anymore.’
“When we have a situation where even those who employed him know that Lai Mohammed is a liar, who will even lie during the holy month of Ramadan, then why should Nigerians be surprised at this latest lie?
“Mr Lai Mohammed is only being clever by half when he says ‘It beggars belief that a candidate who prides himself as a democrat can so allow desperation to becloud his sense of propriety to such an extent that he will be associating with anti-democratic forces or making inflammatory statements.’
“Atiku Abubakar is a man of peace and a thoroughbred democrat. It is preposterous that those who threatened to ‘soak the dog and the baboon in blood’ are now audacious enough to point the finger at lifelong democrats. Truly, if the farmer does not raise the alarm on time, the thief will accuse him of being a thief.
“How can a man who wined and dined with Nigeria’s most brutal dictator, how can a man who overthrew a democratically elected President and held a grudge against him even in death (as evidenced by the empty condolence register he left in Sokoto, last year) accuse a man who has never been as much as associated with such tendencies, of being an anti-democrat?”