President Goodluck Jonathan has dismissed an editorial by the UK-based magazine, Economist, in which the paper endorsed Muhammadu Buhari, his chief rival in February 14 election.
In its piece, the Economist said Nigerians have two bad options in Messrs Jonathan and Buhari.
The paper said while Mr. Jonathan has utterly failed as president, with no capacity to tackle growing insurgency and widespread corruption, Mr. Buhari is a former dictator with blood on his hands.
Nonetheless, the paper said voting the dictator is better than a failed president.
Mr. Jonathan’s office on Friday expressed displeasure over the magazine’s assessment, describing it as “baseless, jaundiced and malicious vilification” of the president.
A statement issued in Abuja by Mr. Jonathan’s Special Adviser on Media and Publicity, Reuben Abati, said that contrary to the Economist’s assertions, Nigeria, under Mr. Jonathan has made very considerable progress.
The presidency noted with surprise, the magazine’s “tongue-in-cheek endorsement of General Muhammadu Buhari in the run-up to Nigeria’s general elections”.
According to the statement, the president retains the trust and confidence of majority of Nigerians as the outcome of the presidential elections will undoubtedly show.
Mr. Abati said the magazine’s Nigerian and other readers would be shocked that it had taken the “very ill-considered decision to throw its weight behind a candidate who, as a former military dictator, curtailed freedom of speech.”
“He also ordered the kidnapping of opponents and jailing of journalists,” Mr. Abati said. “The same candidate is also accused of incitement to violence and grave human rights violations in Nigeria’s current democratic dispensation.”
It remarked that The Economist might feign ignorance of Mr. Jonathan’s remarkable achievements as a leader of his country in the past six years.
“But Nigerians, who, unlike the magazine’s opinion writers, will actually vote in the country’s forthcoming presidential election, know that President Jonathan has worked very hard to fulfil all the major promises he made to them,” he said.
According to the statement, Nigerians know that President Jonathan has developed the economy and created more jobs.
“They know that he has given policy support to the real sector of the economy, so that Small and Medium Enterprises can thrive. They know that he has encouraged locally-owned enterprises to take advantage of our resources in growing the domestic economy,” Mr. Abati added.
The statement also said that Nigerians know that the president had successfully attracted greater foreign direct investment to the country.
It said unlike the poorly informed and distant authors of The Economist’s opinion entitled “The Least Awful”, appreciative Nigerians were aware that Jonathan had worked to improve power supply and national infrastructure.
According to it, Nigerians know that President Jonathan has significantly improved healthcare services in the country, revolutionized agriculture, promoted gender equality and women empowerment, and done his very best to stem corruption in government.
“In spite of significant challenges of terrorism and insurgency the nation faces today, President Jonathan has ensured that Nigeria has become a more vibrant democracy with free media, independent judiciary, free, fair and credible elections, and greater respect for human rights. The Economist is entitled to its erroneous opinion on who represents the best leadership option for Nigeria in the coming elections.
“But, happily for the country, it is not the magazine’s lead writers, but more knowledgeable and patriotic Nigerians who actually work and live in the country, that will vote and re-elect President Jonathan for a second term in office. They will do so, because unlike the Economist’s opinion writers, they understand that a Buhari Presidency will, for their beloved country, represent a stark setback and retrogression from the tremendous ongoing positive transformation of Nigeria under Jonathan.”