Governor Kashim Shettima of terror-plagued Borno State today urged residents of the state not to show any form of disrespect to President Goodluck Jonathan and his entourage as the president is scheduled to arrive tomorrow in Maiduguri, the state capital, to campaign for re-election.
Mr. Shettima made the strong appeal in a statement personally signed by him and released today.
Mr. Jonathan, who is seeking re-election as president on the ticket of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), is scheduled to headline his party’s presidential and governorship campaigns in Maiduguri tomorrow. The president’s convoy was pelted with objects during his recent campaign appearances in Bauchi and Katsina States.
Governor Shettima’s statement, which was distributed to reporters by his media aide, Mr. Isa Gusau, said the president had not been attacked during his campaign stops in state controlled by the opposition All Progressives Congress (APC).
“We have political differences and our differences are legitimate and based on the principles of our political parties and what we stand for. But we must remember that His Excellency, Dr. Goodluck Ebele Jonathan, GCFR, is the President of the Federal Republic of Nigeria and as citizens of this country, we have an obligation to respect his office and his person. Our millions of citizens who support the APC in Borno State and our presidential candidate, General Muhammadu Buhari and anyone that supports me or any of our national and state assembly candidates in the State, should shun any act of violence, intolerance and unlawful political behavior before, during and after the President's visit and should remain law abiding citizens of Borno State as our laws, norms and values demand,” the governor stated.
He added: “Disrespecting the President's convoy will not help the APC and General Buhari in any way, rather, it will provide ample basis for his and our political opponents to blackmail him and the APC. Any true admirer of Buhari should translate his or her admiration to massive support for him when he visits Maiduguri to launch his Presidential campaign at a date that will soon be made public. Buhari is not coming on Saturday (tomorrow) as earlier planned due to some adjustments made to make his activities more successful. Supporters of Buhari and the APC should not be involved in violence but should rather ensure they all obtain and secure their Permanent Voters Card to cast votes for him and all candidates of the APC during the forthcoming general elections. President Jonathan is expected in Maiduguri to flag off his presidential campaign in Borno State. I call on all APC supporters and those of Buhari never to show any act of disrespect to the President and members of his entourage. Anyone who supports the PDP and the president's re-election bid should freely support him in exercise of his or her rights. Anyone who doesn't share the PDP's ideology and that of the president has the option of minding his or her business without any compulsion and this is legitimate but there must be no acts of intolerance. It is the right of every Nigerian to associate with any of the registered political parties in this country. It is the right of every Nigerian to support any candidate of his or her convictions. Our rights as associates of any party end where the rights of our opponents begin and theirs end where ours begin.
Let me use this opportunity to call on supporters of all political parties in Borno State to abide by the principles of politics without bitterness which our laws provide. We must never allow any politician to use our youths to perpetuate violence in the name of politics. After all, life itself is but temporary not to talk of access to power. Power is the most transient of all of Allah’s gifts to His creatures. No matter how long one stays put in power, one must either leave when constitutionally provided time elapses or it gets to a stage one in power doesn't find it useful due to ailments or age that comes with time and the stress associated with managing public office. We must, as citizens of Borno, remember that we have more serious challenge of insurgency that is a common threat to our lives and our communities. We have lost thousands of innocent citizens, many have been injured and we have thousands displaced. These should occupy our minds more as they are more than enough troubles. We must never allow political violence to serve as salts to our naked injury.”
The governor's statement was doubtless informed by recent incidents in Bauchi and Katsina States where unruly youths attacked President Jonathan’s convoy.