President Goodluck Jonathan has advised his National Security Adviser, General Andrew Owoye Azazi, to be careful about how he speaks in public because words can be dangerous.
Mr. Jonathan was speaking in Abuja today during a sympathy visit to the Abuja offices of ThisDay, which were destroyed in a Boko Haram bomb attack on Thursday, with several losses of life. He was responding to a comment by the NSA in Asaba on Friday that the struggle for power within ruling People’s Democratic Party (PDP) is responsible for the rise of terrorism in the country, and Mr. Jonathan said public officers are extremely careful because words are “extremely elastic.”
“Sometimes you have something in your mind that you want to communicate but the way you communicate it, different people will give different interpretation,” Jonathan said. “So until I read it. I don't believe that the National Security Adviser means that the practice in PDP are anti democratic...I still see that the PDP is one of the most democratic parties. So I don't believe that it is undemocratic practice in PDP that could give rise to Boko Haram or any other groups. Probably people need to ask NSA to maybe explain what he really mean.”
He maintained that Nigeria will conquer the terrorists because that is the trend in the world. His comment ran as follows:
“From the beginning of this terrorist attack, I have always maintained that terror attack in any part of the country is terror attack on all of us and indeed the whole world because terrorist method is to ensure they have maximum damage that the whole world will begin to look at their direction for relevance. You can see that this is a media house. Its not a government establishment. Media has to inform all of us about what is happening. And of course the media is now also a victim. And that is why we all as Nigerians, no matter what we do, where we come from, we must join hands in fighting this terror. I can assure you that we will get over it. Other nations have passed through it....and they were able to conquer it. We are working very hard. The security services are working very hard. So we will conquer it.”
Asked his views about the suggestion of some people who say that dialogue with Boko Haram may be the best option, Mr. Jonathan was ambivalent: “Yes they are correct to say we should dialogue and those who are saying we should not dialogue are also correct. When you have a terror situation, you also look at the global best practice all over the world. Most countries pass through that. Just like a war situation. You may dialogue. You may not dialogue depending on the circumstances. But we will exploit every means possible to bring this to an end.”
Also speaking at the event, the publisher of ThisDay Newspapers, Mr. Nduka Obaigbena, described the attack on ThisDay as an attack on everyone, and that his organization will continue to publish the truth and defend free speech because it is worth dying for.
“It’s an attack on all of us,” he said of the events of Thursday. “It’s an attack on the country. It’s an attack on free speech. It’s an attack on the media. But be rest assured that we will never surrender...As I said before, what is not worth dying for is not worth living for. We will defend free speech. We will defend the conversation. We will publish the truth no matter what. We will never surrender.