President Goodluck Jonathan denounced a former military leader, Muhammadu Buhari, Thursday, after the retired general detailed a series of failings he ascribed to the Jonathan administration, pointing at them as reasons the president must be replaced next year.
Mr. Buhari officially announced his plan to contest the 2015 presidential elections Wednesday. He will contest on the platform of the All Progressives Congress, APC.
Former Vice President Atiku Abubakar is also vying for the party’s presidential ticket.
Declaring his intention Wednesday in Abuja, Mr. Buhari said Nigeria has never been as divided as it is under Mr. Jonathan, and that the country has witnessed unprecedented insecurity, energy failure and a pretentious economic growth that has failed to lift Nigerians from poverty.
“The economy continues to deteriorate while the government continues to announce fantastic growth figures. But manufacturing is down, agriculture is down, commerce is down,” Mr. Buhari said.
He said simply because “you sell oil and steal part of the money does not entitle you to cook figures and announce phantom economic growth when all the major indices namely employment, manufacturing, farming and trading are demonstrably on the decline.”
He also accused the government of continuing to rig elections.
In a response Thursday, the presidency spoke of its “disappointment and regret” over the “reckless, baseless and unsupportable charges” made against the Jonathan Administration.
The statement issued by a presidential spokesperson, Reuben Abati, said Mr. Buhari is only afraid to take on the president in an honest, issues-driven presidential election contest.
Read full statement below:
We wholly reject the allegations made by General Buhari against the Jonathan Administration at the declaration of his intention to contest the 2015 presidential elections as an irresponsible denigration of President Goodluck Ebele Jonathan’s sincere efforts, over the past four years, to positively transform Nigeria.
It reflects very badly on the character of the political opposition we now have in Nigeria, that a political leader of General Buhari’s stature will deliberately make such false and uncharitable comments about the elected leadership of his country, merely for personal and sectional political gain.
The falsity of General Buhari’s anti-Jonathan and anti-PDP claims will be obvious to knowledgeable Nigerians and friends of the country, but for the benefit of others we affirm that there is absolutely no truth whatsoever in his charge that “the last 16 years of PDP Government has witnessed a decline in all critical sectors of life in Nigeria” or that “the economy continues to deteriorate”.
Statistics and rankings from the National Bureau of Statistics, the Central Bank of Nigeria, the World Bank, the International Monetary Fund and other international economic agencies give the lie to General Buhari’s claims on the state of the Nigerian economy.
As is well known, available figures, statistics and ratings show that the Nigerian economy has consistently maintained an unprecedented growth rate of 6-7% under the Jonathan administration. They also show that the Nigerian economy is now the leading economy in Africa and the 26th largest in the world with a gross domestic product of over $500 billion per annum.
Also contrary to General Buhari’s assertion yesterday, Nigeria’s agricultural sector is thriving under the reforms being implemented by the Jonathan administration as current production figures show and neither manufacturing nor commerce is “down” as the APC presidential aspirant alleged.
His most uncharitable and inexcusable accusation against the present administration was that election rigging continues to thrive in Nigeria.
We trust that all patriotic, objective and non-partisan Nigerians will reject that allegation knowing it to be invalid and they will have the evidence of the progressively freer, fairer and ever more credible elections conducted under the Jonathan administration to support their position.
Despite the other false accusations General Buhari made against the President who he clearly fears to take on in an honest, issues-driven presidential election contest, President Jonathan will continue to carry forward his transformation agenda in the power sector and other areas.
The President will not be discouraged or deterred from his objective of repositioning Nigeria for accelerated and inclusive socio-economic development by the partisan and jaundiced views of power seekers like General Buhari who cannot see the obvious results of the current administration’s efforts through their blinkered eyes.
We also draw the attention of Nigerians to the total lack of originality in the hackneyed manifesto offered to Nigerians yesterday by the APC Presidential aspirant.
All that General Buhari promises to do are already being done by the Jonathan Administration to the acclaim of ordinary Nigerians and there is no evidence before Nigerians that the APC leader and his acolytes can do them better.
The retired General is free to renege on his well-publicized pledge not to seek elective office again, as he has done, but we urge him to conduct his presidential campaign with greater regard for the truth.
We also urge him to eschew unbecoming false accusations against others like a true elder statesman and to focus his campaign on more original ideas for the promotion of peace, stability, unity and progress in our beloved nation.
Special Adviser to the President