The presidency has reacted angrily to remarks by the All Progressives Congress (APC) chieftain, Bisi Akande, Saturday, dismissing
President Goodluck Jonathan as an “unserious-minded president” who runs a “kindergarten presidency”.
In a rare rebuke, Aso Rock warned Mr. Akande to “respect his age” advised him and the APC against defaming the person of the president and the office he occupies as there were laws prohibiting against such.
“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,” a statement by presidential spokesperson, Reuben Abati, said Sunday.
“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 vituperations.
“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.”
The statement also accused Mr. Akande of trying to draw the president into a battle of words so as to shift the public’s attention from the ongoing tussle between former head of state, Muhammadu Buhari, and ex Lagos state governor, Bola Tinubu, two stalwarts in the newly formed opposition party.
“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,” the statement continued.
“‘By his very unguarded and intemperate outburst yesterday, 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, who amongst 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.”
Speaking to journalists on Saturday in his Ila-Orangun country home, Mr. Akande had criticized the president’s failure to tackle the array of needs facing the country including breakdown in infrastructure, insecurity and political impunity.
“I have my reasons not to admire President Goodluck Jonathan. I have not found him to be a serious-minded leader. Jonathan is Nigeria’s problem today. He is not a thinking leader.
“I have had two meetings with him since 2011. I have had a long telephone conversation with him. I have written him twice discussing the serious challenges facing the country but he has not found the courtesy to reply. He has reduced governance to kindergarten level. He is not serious-minded.”
The statement released by Mr. Abati said the comments smacked of desperation to bring down Mr. Jonathan.
“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”.
“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.”