Opposition party asks president to apologise to Borno people and Nigerians over his threat to the state governor
For condemning the Borno State Governor, Kashim Shettima, over his recent comment on the strength and operations of the Nigerian armed forces against the Boko Haram in Borno State, President Goodluck Jonathan has come under attack from the governor’s party, the All Progressives Congress, APC.
The opposition party said Mr. Jonathan’s response to the governor’s remarks was unwarranted, un-presidential and petty.
Mr. Shettima had claimed after a visit to the president last week that Boko Haram were better armed and motivated than the armed forces, adding that the military, as presently constituted and armed, could not defeat the insurgents.
However, during his media chat on Monday, Mr. Jonathan rebuked the governor for making the comparison in such a manner, saying the statement was “unfortunate.”
The president noted that no matter the frustration he was faced with, the governor should not have made the comment.
“The issue of the governor of Borno State, the statement is a bit unfortunate,” Mr. Jonathan said. “I don’t expect a governor to make this kind of statement and if the governor of Borno State felt that the Nigerian armed forces are not useful he should tell Nigerians, I will pull them out for one month whether he will stay in his Government House,” Mr. Jonathan said.
“But if he thinks what he said is correct then I will pull out the armed forces for one month. A governor should be mindful of what they say. Yes, there are issues, but no matter how frustrated you are, you don’t make this kind of statement.”
The president, however, denied speculations that he was planning to appoint a military administrator to replace Mr. Kashim.
In a statement by its interim National Publicity Secretary, Lai Mohammed on Tuesday, the APC said Mr. Jonathan was wrong to have threatened, no matter how subtly, to withdraw from Borno the troops who were battling against Boko Haram insurgents.
While asking the president to apologise to the people of Borno and to all Nigerians for the ‘presidential indiscretion’ and the threat, it said it was clear that he (Jonathan) did not have a full grasp of what was expected of him as President and Commander-in-Chief of the Armed Forces.
”Mr. President, your most important duty as President is to ensure the welfare and security of all Nigerians, irrespective of the criticisms you may face or whether or not they voted for you,” the party added.
“Therefore, you are not doing anyone a favour by performing that duty. It is the role you swore an oath to perform.
”Also, even if you feel that the Governor should not have made the statement he made, it is incumbent upon you, as the President and the father of the nation, to take the higher road, instead of choosing a public forum to air your grievances.
“Wittingly or unwittingly, Mr. President, you have played into the hands of the insurgents who must by now be gloating at the discordant tunes in government over the battle against them.”
Using the president’s exact words to the governor, the APC said ”A (President) should be mindful of what they say. Yes there are issues, but no matter how frustrated you are you don’t make this kind of statement.”
The party said based on the anger exhibited by Mr. Jonathan while commenting on Mr. Shettima’s statement, it was justified in its call on the president not to go ahead with his reported plan to remove the governor and replace him with a military administrator.
It said, ”President Jonathan should know that a leader cannot afford to be taking decisions on the basis of a perceived slight or criticism, because such decisions are most likely to be wrong and counter-productive.
“He should also use his enormous powers as President for the benefit of the people, not to their disadvantage.
”By his threat to pull out the troops from Borno for one month, he has further victimised the good people of the state, who have been at the receiving end of the senseless attacks by Boko Haram. A retraction of his threat and an apology to the people will be a good starting point for Mr. President to make amend.”