President Goodluck Jonathan yesterday lambasted opposition leaders saying they lack the antecedents to support their ‘deceptive’ claim to make the country better.
Speaking in Lagos through his Senior Special Assistant on Public Affairs, Dr. Doyin Okupe, the President condemned the ‘penchant’ of opposition leaders to denigrate his government and the nation. He assured that his administration will not be distracted by their ‘empty’ criticisms in their unrelenting drive to transform the social, economic and political landscape.
Okupe singled out presidential candidate of the Congress for Progressive Change (CPC), Major-General Muhammadu Buhari and former Lagos State governor, Senator Bola Ahmed Tinubu, the two arrowheads of the opposition, who spoke disparagingly about his person and administration at the national convention of the Action Congress of Nigeria (ACN) in Lagos last Thursday, describing the duo as “heavily burdened political liabilities.”
He described the new All Progressives Congress (APC) which comprises opposition political parties, as being made up of Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) renegades, a “moribund and lackluster” All Nigeria People’s Congress (ANPP), and the ACN, “a one-man owned and controlled party with no form of any internal democratic credential whatsoever and totally devoid of any form of modern liberalism.”
Said Okupe: “These sets of politicians who want to desperately supplant the Jonathan administration are promoting an incongruous alliance of political weaklings and dysfunctional Lilliputians out primarily to foster their ego and psyche being repeatedly frustrated political mongers; forgetting that one million giant ants can never muster the required strength to lift a concrete pole not to talk of a nationally entrenched pillar and structurally established institution like the PDP.
“It is worthy of note that the major plank of this motley assembly, the ACN, is notorious for outsourcing its presidential standard bearer from the ranks of the same PDP they gleefully vilify.
“In 2003, their choice was former Vice President Atiku Abubakar, who now knows them better. In 2011, it was a protégé of former President Olusegun Obasanjo’s Mallam Nuhu Ribadu, who fitted the slot, although he was later betrayed and sacrificed on the altar of self-interest.
“Presently, the debates within the factionalized alliance suggest that they will not mind fielding another PDP stalwart as its presidential flagbearer. It is clear that a party that consistently over a period of 12 years had been unable to find any suitable member from its own rank and file as presidential candidate has clearly exhibited its own structural and ideological weakness and its unsuitability as an organization capable of providing national leadership and can therefore, not run an efficient or competent federal government in a country like Nigeria.”
While responding to the speech made by Tinubu, Dr. Okupe said opposition leaders are fond of using “every platform to denigrate this nation and its government, confuse innocent members of the public and deceptively present themselves as possessing what it takes to move Nigeria forward.”
While noting that the antecedents of the ACN leader as governor of Lagos State did not portray him as a friend of workers and masses, neither does it show him as having better managerial ability which he hopes to give the Nigerian people,
Okupe said: “The Bola Tinubu who spoke about poor budget implementation at the federal level never attained 60 percent budget implementation while he presided over the affairs of Lagos between 1999 and 2007.Contrast this with the remarkable budget implementation record of the present administration in the last two years. The records are there for all to see.
“Senator Tinubu who spoke about meager wages for public servants in Nigeria was known to have ignored calls of Lagos civil servants for a 7,500 Naira monthly wage and when he eventually buckled to the pressure of Labour leaders, he wickedly sacked the major arrowhead of the struggle in the person of Comrade Ayodele Akele, who was never re-instated.
Besides, he said “ The incumbent National Chairman of the ACN, Chief Bisi Akande as governor of Osun State, denied workers of a 5,500 Naira minimum wage and eventually laid off over 9,000 workers during his four-year reign. Comrade Adams Oshiomale,who was then Nigeria Labour Congress (NLC) president and now Governor of Edo State led workers on protest march in Osun State during the period but Chief Akande remained adamant. Where then are the credentials of these people to talk about job creation, promotion of workers’ interest and democratic etiquette?”
Okupe said none of the states being currently governed by the opposition ACN has given a good account of themselves as being insinuated by the opposition
He pointed out that, Ekiti and Osun which are ACN states are currently embroiled in industrial crises as a result of the insensitive, cruel and anti-workers policies of their present governors.
“Local government workers and teachers went on strike in Ekiti and lost a number of their members to sack and other forms of victimization. In Osun, tertiary institutions are at present under lock and key. School fees have tripled in institutions of higher learning owned by Ekiti, Lagos, Osun and Oyo states. Yet, Senator Tinubu spoke of the present government as “heartless and mean that put the interest of small elite above the interest of the common working man and woman who are the backbone of this nation, ” Okupe stated.
On amnesty, Okupe said that the decision of two nominated members of the Implementation Committee, Mallam Sani Shehu and Alhaji Datti Ahmed, to reject their membership, was an unfortunate development, which, however, will not affect the functioning of the panel.
Okupe said Sani and Ahmed were included in the committee because of their earlier personal initiatives to help resolve the crisis, and that they should have seen their inclusion in the committee as a honour to serve the government and their country, as people in several other countries see such calls to service.
On corruption, Okupe said it didn’t start with this administration, adding that a problem that is about 50 years cannot be wiped out overnight.
He said it was towards re-invigorating the anti-corruption war that President Jonathan overhauled the leadership of the agencies and also signed the Freedom of Information (FoI) Bill. According to him, the President will continue to leave those in charge of the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) and the Independent Corrupt Practices and Other Related Offences Commission (ICPC) to rise up to the challenge.