The Presidency Tuesday responded to remarks by former Vice President Atiku Abubakar on the security situation in the country, saying some of his past utterances contributed to the escalation of insurgent activities in the North.
But in a swift response, some supporters of Mr. Abubakar, under the aegis of Turaki Vanguard, condemned the Presidency for disparaging the former vice president.
Mr. Abubakar, a presidential aspirant on the platform of the All Progressives Congress, APC, had spoken at a press conference on Monday in Abuja during which he lamented the security situation in the north eastern part of Nigeria.
He said the Federal Government had not done enough to tackle the insecurity in the northern part of the country and called for the support of the international community to bring an end to the situation.
He said President Goodluck Jonathan could not possibly want to go down in history as the only Nigerian Commander-in-Chief to have ever lost territory to terrorists and that the president still had a chance to redeem his legacy.
But the Presidency, through the Special Assistant to the President on Public Affairs, Doyin Okupe, recounted that in the build up to the 2011 general elections, Mr. Abubakar had quoted the famous statement by late US President John Kennedy that “those who make peaceful change inevitable will make violent change inevitable”.
He said that remark contributed to the escalation of insurgency in the country.
The presidential aide spoke in Abuja at the Public Affairs Forum, a programme organised by his office for ministers to give account of their stewardship to members of Civil Society Organisations, Professional groups and artisans.
While lamenting the former vice president’s remarks at the Northern Stakeholders Forum in 2010, Mr. Okupe said it was unfortunate that those who desperately stoked the fire of insurgency now laying the blame on the shoulders of a government already working hard to put out the fire.
He said it was lack of patriotism that made Mr. Abubakar to talk down on the nation’s military which he hopes to lead, if elected President of the Federal Republic.
Mr. Okupe said the former vice president, who is from Adamawa State, one of the states ravaged by insurgent activities, was not known to have taken any hard position on terrorists and terrorism in the past and shouldn’t expect to gain any political mileage from the unfortunate killings and kidnappings in some parts of the North by presenting himself as being on the side of the victims of insurgency.
He advised the presidential aspirant to learn from political leaders in other climes who drop the toga of partisanship in moments of national crisis by supporting their governments to raise the hope of citizens and defeat enemies of civilisation.
The presidential aide said President Goodluck Jonathan would not be distracted by negative comments from Mr. Abubakar and a few others whose only concern is politics rather than nation building.
He said the president would continue to work assiduously with security chiefs and community stakeholders to restore peace to the northern part of the country in the shortest possible time.
In a statement by its National President, Oladimeji Fabiyi, on Tuesday, the Turaki Vanguard said at this critical stage in Nigeria’s history, trading insults was a waste of time “rather we should deploy efforts on how to recover our lost territories unless the people of the Northeast of Nigeria do not matter to the current government.”
“For the avoidance of doubt, Nigeria has so far lost a total of 16 local government areas to Boko Haram: 9 in Bornu, 2 in Yobe and 5 in Adamawa states. The total landmass occupied is the equivalent of three states of the federation.”
The group said at a time like this, when Nigeria was not engaged in any international war, thousands had been internally displaced while thousands more were refugees in neighbouring countries.
It said even many top Federal Government officials could no longer return to their homes.
The group said, “Madagali, hometown of Governors Ngilari and Fintiri of Adamawa has fallen to terrorists. Gulak, the hometown of President Jonathan’s onetime political adviser has also been taken as well as Michika, which is home to the largest number of military generals in Adamawa after Numan.
“Two former Governors of Adamawa also come from this area – Boni Haruna and Saleh Michika. And particularly of interest is Mubi, which is the hometown of Nigeria’s Chief of Defence Staff, Air Marshall Alex Badeh. His palatial mansion in Vimtim village was crushed and reduced to rubble.”
The Turaki Vanguard argued that Nigerians should be concerned about these issues instead of disparaging concerned citizens.
“Once again, we reiterate Atiku Abubakar’s call to the international community for support for the people of Northeast Nigeria. Clearly, we cannot depend on the support of a government which is occupied with personal attacks while a section of the country is burning,” it said.
The group also condemned the withdrawal of the security aides to the Speaker of the House of Representatives, Aminu Tambuwal.
It said the action allegedly by the Presidency was a manifestation of gangster politics.
“Such action from the PDP-led federal government at this point of national emergency amounts to a set-back to the country’s democratization process,” it said.
“It is not in doubt that our democracy has grown past the age of arbitrary politics when a sitting president sees the whole country as his fiefdom.
“There is subsisting judicial pronouncement on the matter of defection, but if the Presidency and the security agencies, were in doubt, should have sought judicial interpretation from the court.
“According to the laws of our land, the Speaker of the House of Representatives has committed no infraction for which, he should be denied security protection as the number four citizen of the country.”