Opposition party says official gazette published by government shows the President has castrated democracy in Borno, Yobe and Adamawa.
The Action Congress of Nigeria, ACN, on Thursday continued its opposition to the declaration of emergency rule in Borno, Yobe and Adamawa States by the president, Goodluck Jonathan.
The party accused Mr. Jonathan of engaging in total deceit when he said the democratic structure in the states have been kept intact, claiming that the President has instead grabbed power and castrated democracy in the states.
In a statement issued in Kaduna on Thursday by its National Publicity Secretary, Lai Mohammed, the party quoted from the President’s speech to the nation on May 14 thus: ”The details of this Proclamation will be transmitted to the National Assembly in accordance with the provisions of the Constitution. But in the meantime, let me make it clear that within the purview of this Proclamation, the Governors and other political office holders in the affected states will continue to discharge their constitutional responsibilities.”
It, however, said the gazette published by the Federal Government on the declaration showed that the President has virtually eviscerated the democratic structure and stripped the political office holders of their constitutional responsibilities, thereby reversing the assurance he gave in his speech on the declaration.
ACN also warned that unless this despotic tendency is checked, nothing prevents Mr. Jonathan, in the name of the ongoing fight against Boko Haram, from extending this power grab to other states that catch his fancy.
”This is dangerous and must be checked, in the interest of our democracy,” the party said.
ACN said that in accordance with the gazette, the Governors and Local Government Chairmen in the states under the state of emergency can only rule under the control of the President or anyone he so designates; the President is allowed to hold state funds; while the House of Assembly is now only a rubber stamp, as any order made under the emergency is deemed to be a law enacted by House.
The party added that it has now been vindicated for not only rejecting the proclamation, but for asking the National Assembly to study the proclamation well before approving it.
The statement said, ”Here is what we said in our statement of May 16th: ‘Truly understanding the proclamation will enable them to make an informed decision when the issue is brought before them.’
”We also said that the state of emergency, which is essentially martial law, ‘has castrated democracy in the affected states, even though the democratic structures have been left largely intact. Our warnings have now turned out to be prescient, a departure from the mass hysteria that greeted the declaration, a departure from the failure of all those who should have seriously scrutinized the declaration.
”A nation justifiably angry over the senseless Boko Haram killings, but inexplicably overly exuberant at a time that calls for sober reflection, simply failed to see the booby traps in the state of emergency declaration. Predictably ever-acquiescing Senate went ahead to approve the declaration even before reading its provisions!
”But the House of Representatives, whose members are always standing by the people of Nigeria, carefully scrutinized the gazette and acted in the best interest of the people. We salute this great chamber and its truly honorable members. We urge them not to relent until they have succeeded in protecting democracy, even as the country fights the insurgents who have turned parts of our country into a killing field,” the party said.
PREMIUM TIMES learnt that the Senate and the House eventually agreed on the House version of the emergency declaration which mandated all expenses of the emergency rule on the federal government; and limited presidential powers to only military and not administrative functions in the affected states.
The ACN also has said that contrary to insinuations in certain quarters, it has not back-tracked from its rejection of the declaration of emergency rule in the three states.
The party also said it remains convinced that only a combination of a responsible use of force and dialogue – which some have tagged a carrot-and-stick approach – can resolve the Boko Haram crisis, and that the use of brute force has never totally resolved any insurgency anywhere.
”We do not need any lesson in patriotism and responsible opposition, because every action we have taken has been guided by patriotism and responsible opposition. Our interventions have never been based on cheap popularity but on rare courage and patriotism, and we will not relent in toeing this path,” it said.