Information Minister says it might be “a slip of tongue”
The Minister of Information, Labaran Maku, has described the order given by the All Progressives Congress, APC, to its members in the National Assembly to block executive bills, including the 2014 Budget, as a possible “slip of tongue.”
The APC had as part of its resolution after its National Executive Committee, NEC, meeting last week in Abuja, instructed all its members in the National Assembly to block all executive bills, as a protest against the manner the Federal Government was handling the political crisis in Rivers State.
The APC is in power in Rivers. Its governor, Chibuike Amaechi, moved to the party from the Peoples Democratic Party, PDP, last November.
Briefing journalists after the Executive Council of the Federation, FEC, meeting on Wednesday, Mr. Maku said the directive, if it was actually given by the opposition leaders, was a breach of the wheel of the development of democracy, which focuses on the interests of the people.
“When you say they should block bills which are for the development of the country and the well being of the people, you are killing democracy itself and you are truncating national development,” he said.
“I believe that was a mistake, it must have been one of those slips of tongues. This democracy should be supported. If this nation progresses, it does not belong to Goodluck Jonathan alone or any party.”
Mr. Maku, who is also the supervising Minister of Defence, noted that what was most troubling was the fact that since the purpose of democracy was development, national interest should be paramount.
He said such directive to lawmakers to block bills or policies which could lead to the development of the country was not expected of its political leaders across party spectrum.
The minister said it was expected that as democracy progressed in the country, members of the National Assembly would be allowed to use their conscience and judgment based on their understanding of any bill before them and for the fact that they had sworn to an oath to defend the constitution to advance the development of the country, to use their positions to do so.
Stating that though partisanship was a part of democracy, Mr. Maku said it should not, however, be considered above national interest or the need for political leaders to offer service to Nigerians.
“All of us are in government really to meet the needs of our people,” he admitted.
The minister contended that if a directive such as the one APC gave that the budget should not be passed, it was an indication that the party wanted to stop the nation’s economy.
“You want to stop the nation’s economy, you want to ensure that traders who will depend on the budget, farmers who will depend on the budget, citizens who depend of the budget, teachers who depend on the budget, you are asking them to either to go to hell or that you are endangering their survival because of partisanship,” he said.
“I believe that this kind of directive or position is anti-national interest, it is anti-development of Nigeria and it is not something anybody who loves this country and who is a democrat should encourage”.
The minister, however, said the evolution of opposition parties was good for the nation, as competition would make for better performance.
He said, “We want competition so that everybody will perform better. We may be standing on different platforms by put we are all working for Nigerians. We are not enemies.
“We should not all at any point begin to heat up polity, begin to truncate the development of ordinary Nigerians.”