Former Head of State, Muhammadu Buhari, on Tuesday said President Goodluck Jonathan and the Federal Government were hatching a plot to arrest him.
Speaking to PREMIUM TIMES via his closest political associate and national secretary of his party, Buba Galadima, Mr. Buhari said the presidency and the ruling party were already preparing the ground to harass, arrest and incarcerate him.
“They are just trying to give us a bad name in order to hang us,” Mr. Galadima told this newspaper in a telephone interview. “We know that they are already planning to arrest the General and I, they are just preparing grounds for their actions.”
Mr Buhari was reacting to statements issued by the the presidency and the national headquarters of the Peoples Democratic Party describing him as a serial election loser and blood thirsty politician, who is in the habit of inciting his supporters to violence.
The PDP and the presidency issued the statements in reaction to comments attributed to Mr. Buhari on Monday where he said the Nigerian government, led by President Goodluck Jonathan of the ruling PDP, is more deadly than the extremist Boko Haram sect and that any attempt to rig the 2015 election would be firmly resisted.
In its statement, released at a hurriedly convened press conference, the PDP said the leader of the opposition Congress for Progressive Change had become unstable and is being haunted by what it described as "combat withdrawal syndrome."
The party also described the retired army general as excessively blood thirsty.
Shortly afterwards, the presidency came out smoking describing Mr. Buhari as a serial election looser renowned for inciting Nigerians to violence.
But speaking to PREMIUM TIMES after the statements were released, Mr. Buhari said rather than him, it was the PDP and the Jonathan-led Federal Government that were the real threat to peace in the country.
“It is those who organise the rigging of elections that are trying to disrupt the peace, not Buhari,” the former head of state said, through Mr. Galadima.
Mr. Galadima also said the PDP and the presidency only came up with the allegations because the government “is planning to arrest Buhari and I, and so they are using Monday’s remarks as an excuse.”
“It is not General that is threatening peace, rather it is the action of the PDP that is leading to bloodbath, they have infected us with bloodbath,” he added.
In its statement, the PDP said such remarks by Mr. Buhari was capable of “inciting people to take the law into their hands” adding that it was the same sort of remark that the retired general made prior to the last presidential election that led to “a spate of bloody post-election violence across six states of the federation”.
The party also claimed that a 22-man panel raised by the government to investigate the causes of the post-election violence under the leadership of Ahmed Lemu “confirmed that Buhari's provocative remarks played a significant role in the bloody violence that led to the death of at least 200 people, gruesomely injuring thousands and the displacement of more than 40,000 people.”
The PDP said although it believed in freedom of speech, assembly and association, it is also of the view that such freedom comes with responsibilities.
The party said it “condemn in no uncertain terms this shameful call for the spill of blood of innocent Nigerians to acquire political power”.
“What Nigeria needs right now is ‘evolution’ in the true spirit of democracy. The utterances of General Buhari, a former military Head of State is truly, undemocratic, unpatriotic and un-statesmanly,” it added.
The ruling party continued, “Buhari's pre-election utterances were misconstrued by his supporters to engage in the condemnable mayhem that greeted the aftermath of the presidential elections. Buhari never apologized to the nation or to the families of the victims. Today, Buhari is again engaged in another build up of massive bloodletting and destruction”.
However, shortly after the press conference by the PDP, the presidency also issued a statement describing the former head of state as “a serial election loser who has never taken his past election defeats graciously even when such elections were generally acknowledged to be free and fair.”
The statement also described the comments by the retired general referring to the Jonathan government as Boko Haram as unfortunate.
“The Federal Government led by President Jonathan is not Boko Haram. Boko Haram means Western Education is sin. That being the case, one wonders how a government that devoted the largest sectoral allocation in the 2012 budget to education could be said to be Boko Haram,” presidential spokesperson, Reuben Abati said.
The Federal government, Mr. Abati said, can “ now challenge Major General Buhari to tell Nigerians what he has done, whether in his capacity as the head of a military junta or in his private capacity, to bring education to vulnerable children. If he cannot live up to this challenge, perhaps he has to reassess who really is Boko Haram”.
Mr. Abati also said the government was particularly disturbed by Mr. Buhari’s remarks in which he said that "Since the leaders now don’t listen to anybody but do whatever they wish, there is nothing the north can do."
“We find it very sad that an elder statesman who once presided over the entirety of Nigeria can reduce himself to a regional leader who speaks for only a part of Nigeria,” Mr. Abati added.
“When Buhari says that "if what happens in 2011 should again happen in 2015, by the grace of God, ‘the dog and the baboon would all be soaked in blood", we hereby state that it is Buhari himself who does not listen.
“He has obviously refused to listen to the Nigerian People, the European Union, the Commonwealth Monitoring Group, the African Union and a multitude of independent electoral monitors who testified that the 2011 elections were free and fair and "the best elections since Nigeria returned to civil rule.
"Finally, we wish to make it known to Buhari that given his reference to "dogs and baboons", perhaps his best course of action would be to travel to the zoo of his imagination because President Goodluck Jonathan was elected by human beings to preside over human beings and it is human beings who will determine what happens in Nigeria at any material time not "dogs and baboons".