The students chastised the presidency.
The Student Representative Council of the Ahmed Bello University, ABU, Zaria, has expressed surprise and disappointment at the reaction of Reuben Abati, the special Adviser to the President on media and publicity, to a lecture delivered by Nuhu Ribadu, a former anti-graft czar.
Mr. Ribadu had, during a One Day Public Lecture organized by the school, criticized the President Goodluck Jonathan’s administration, describing Nigeria under the president’s rule as a “sinking ship”.
He called on the youth to ensure the evolution of Nigeria using social media to actively participate in the country’s administration.
“The tragedy of our democracy is that it is one in which the yearnings of the youth are stamped down in order to perpetuate a tyranny of interests,” Mr. Ribadu had said in his speech to the students.
The speech greatly angered the presidency and drew a scathing reaction from spokesperson Mr. Abati.
Mr. Abati resorted to verbal vituperations calling Mr. Ribadu, overly ambitious and an “ethically-challenged hypocrite” among other contemptuous words.
Mr. Abati’s reaction did not go unnoticed, as critics including Mr. Ribadu, opposition parties and most recently, the students of the ABU, expressly disapproved of Mr. Abati’s reaction, warning him to be more tolerant of criticisms.
In a press statement sent to PREMIUMTIMES on Wednesday by the ABU Student Representative Council’s president, Abubakar Rafindadi, the students chastised Mr. Abati.
“With all due respect to the revered Presidency, the way and manner in which the Presidential Adviser came out and launched his characteristic campaign of calumny against perceived opponents to his boss, this time against Mallam Nuhu Ribadu in the national dailies, is very disheartening.
“It is also instructive to note that he did so on account of total misconstruction and deliberate distortion of the contents of the speech delivered by Ribadu,” they said.
“We view as unfair as well as provocative, the statement credited to Abati by national dailies that President Jonathan and his administration will not be distracted from the diligent implementation of the agenda by the falsehood and vituperations of Ribadu and his new friends”.
The students said “It is disgustingly surprising that this statement was made as an attack on a paper presented which was tailored to address the aforementioned challenges.”
The student body expressed support for the ideologies pedaled by Mr. Ribadu in the speech saying they believe in the possibility of a great Nigeria with the active participation of “all and sundry”.
The students also said they will drop all “forms of identity that introduces us as something other than ‘citizens’… any citizenship that asks for anything other than ‘change’ for the better…any institution that preaches divisions and exclusions”.
The ABU students said that Nigeria will only progress if their leaders learn to tolerate opposition and allow the freedom of expression to be exercised.