Text Of Press Conference By The National Publicity Secretary, Chief Olisa Metuh On The State Of The Nation, Today, Monday, September 28, 2015 At The PDP National Secretariat, Abuja.
Gentlemen of the press,
Again, we have called you to this very important press conference today to let you into some disturbing political trends in our country since the emergence of the President Muhammadu Buhari-led All Progressives Congress (APC) administration at the center which, if unchecked portends high risk for our hard earned democracy.
In the last 120 days under the APC, some elements in the euphoria of their unexpected victory are now moving our dear nation from democracy to autocracy and attempting to impose a sole administratorship in all spheres of the polity, with its attendant consequences and embarrassments to the President and our national image.
The recent case of the absence of Nigeria at one of the key listed meetings at the 70th United Nations General Assembly in New York, where the issue of humanitarian crisis arising from the insurgency in Lake Chad countries including our country was the main agenda, further asserts the ineptitude of the handlers of the President on national and international issues.
At home, what satiates these elements around the President is exhibiting hazardous signs such as executive arrogance, flagrant abuse of power, constitutional violations, assault on democratic institutions, compromising of judicial processes, invasion of state government and personal houses, harassment of citizens and the deliberate suffocation of the middle class.
This has resulted in the government conveying dictatorial inclinations as amply exhibited in its adamant stance in running a government without the statutory component of an executive cabinet, even when the negative consequences of this strange totalitarian approach are taking serious toll on the polity.
Also, the stance goes a long way to show that the flip-flopped promise of our President to name a cabinet, a deadline which he shifted from two weeks of assumption of office to end of September, is actually a reluctant pledge and done under great duress.
From his hesitancy and comments, it is deducible that President Buhari never intended to appoint ministers but rather prefers to run a monocracy and evidently does not value or respect those he would nominate as ministers.
Otherwise, how can anyone repackage the mindset of the President when he, in an interview with France 24 Television in France, stated categorically that his preference is to rule without a cabinet and denigrated ministers as ‘noise makers,’ and of no importance or value in the running of an administration?
Given this worrisome outlook, it is obvious that the Presidency would not attach any value or importance to the ministers under the ‘new sheriff.’ Could this also be part of the reason for the relentless onslaught against the National Assembly, which must be weakened and prevented from playing its constitutional role of checks and balances in the system?
Whilst we reserve our comments on the numerous gaffes by the Nigerian delegation at the 70th United Nation’s General Assembly Meeting, we decry the huge embarrassment caused by the delegation’s dereliction of duty, profusely manifested in the snubbing of a crucial meeting where countries affected by Boko Haram insurgency sought international assistance for millions displaced by the scourge.
Whereas, other affected Chad basin countries were fully represented and had fruitful discussions with officials of the world body, the government of Nigeria, which has the biggest challenge of displaced persons, was nowhere to be found.
Much more pathetic and shocking, but very revealing of the insincerity and ineptitude of those around the President was the disconcerting excuse by an aide of the President in trying to explain away this blunder.
Instead of admitting failure and apologizing to Nigerians, the Presidency sought to hoodwink the public by claiming that the meeting was not one of the official events for which the President and his delegation are in New York, only for the official brochure of the meeting tagged, “High Level Event on the Lake Chad Basin”, to show that “high level representation from the government of Nigeria” was scheduled to make contributions at the meeting.
Further reports indicate that due to the importance of that meeting, it was broadcast on United Nations’ official online television and radio channels, while officials of world bodies have continued to register their disappointment in our country due to the incompetence of the APC-led government.
It is disheartening to note that the same meeting the President Buhari-led delegation shunned actually yielded a fall out of $6.8 million announced by the United States as funding for regional aid efforts.
If not for possible insensitivity to the plight of those affected by insurgency, what other reason has this government for its absence from such a crucial meeting aimed to find ways of bringing relief to its displaced citizens?
This is especially as the delegation to the UN General Assembly Meeting achieved nothing, reminiscent of the July much hyped visit to the US, which also brought nothing but diplomatic disagreements, also due to the ineptitude of the APC-led federal government.
Even more disturbing is the diplomatic mix-up, which resulted in the breach of protocol, crass ineptitude and monumental embarrassment in the late appearance of the President during the head of Vatican’s meeting with other world leaders.
This is most damaging to the image of the country, especially as we note that the damage did not arise out of disrespect for the head of Vatican, the Pope but due to the incompetence of those around our beloved President.
Whereas, we have in the past stated our support for efforts towards the fight against insurgency, we wish to register our deep concern regarding the clear show of unseriousness on the part of the present administration in tackling this problem and bringing succor to affected persons.
It is depressing to note that apart from the efforts by the Goodluck Jonathan-led PDP administration in training, military hardware and fortifying the country’s military before leaving office in May, no tangible investment has been made by the present administration in that direction due to its apparent lack of focus.
The fallout is the resurgence of terrorists who were, before the May 29th handover date, already pushed to the verge of surrender in the Sambisa forest.
But for the resilience of our military, who have effectively applied the equipment and training sourced under the watch of the PDP government, insurgents would have taken greater hold of our nation by now.
Even as we await the ministers already discredited by the person appointing them, we call on this administration to quickly gauge the mood of the nation and move fast to stem the sliding tide in virtually all segments of our national life by ensuring that it takes the national interest more seriously and curtail its show of impunity, abuse of power and the tampering of the independence of the judiciary as being celebrated by the APC in claiming manipulation of the various elections tribunals in the land.
We therefore use this medium to draw the attention of the Chief Justice of Nigeria to various complaints by PDP members regarding the application of undue technicalities to deny them justice in elections tribunals and relevant courts.
The special case in point is the manipulation of the processes in the governorship elections tribunals in Plateau and Imo states, where APC stole our mandates and is now applying all manner of tactics to arm-twist the judiciary and manipulate the proceedings by wounding down the clock, thereby preventing the hearing of the merit of PDP cases in those states until the expiration of the stipulated 180 days.
Our complaints derives from the fact that the APC is already boasting of being in control of the judiciary as a tool to take over states won by the PDP in the general elections especially, Akwa-Ibom, Rivers, Taraba, Delta as well as Imo and Plateau states.
We therefore hope that the recent decision of the Court of Appeal sitting in Jos, reversing the ruling of the Governorship Election Tribunal in Plateau State, admitting into evidence INEC-certified electoral documents, expert evidence and report, following a joint inspection of the documents by parties to the petition, as ordered by the tribunal itself, is not the direct result of the arm-twisting of the judiciary by the APC.
This is especially so when the APC, who at the moment claims victory at the election, offered not a shred of evidence to contradict the INEC-certified documents and expert evidence and report emanating from it as presented by the PDP in the two states, Imo and Plateau.
The most disturbing aspect of this perhaps is in Imo state, where the merit of the PDP petition in the tribunal was not heard but thrown out on technicalities and being frustrated from being heard.
Finally, while we restate our commitment towards issues based opposition at all times, we call on Nigerians to be on the alert and join us in resisting hawks around the Presidency from derailing our democracy through their divisive, parochial and anti-democratic actions and interests.
Chief Olisa Metuh
National Publicity Secretary