"Let no one, whether on the altar of personal ambition or pretension to higher patriotic tendencies, do anything that can detonate the keg of gunpowder on which the nation is sitting."
Former Nigerian Head of State Gen. Muhammadu Buhari has urged President Goodluck Jonathan to ‘pull the brakes’ on his Administration's runaway train of impunity, in the interest of Nigeria's survival and the sustenance of the nation's democracy.
In a statement issued in Kaduna on Sunday, Gen. Buhari said the recent induced impeachment or threats of impeachment of Governors of opposition states, just to decapitate the opposition, does not augur well for the survival of a fragile nation like Nigeria, or the survival of its tenderfoot democracy.
He said the political developments have become an unwelcome distraction from the nation's ongoing survival and battle against the terror group Boko Haram, which has put Nigeria on the tenterhooks, with innocent citizens being mowed down daily at times and places of the group's choosing. Over 200 school girls have spent their fourth month in precarious captivity.
''Whether or not President Goodluck Jonathan is behind the gale of impeachment or the utilization of desperate tactics to suffocate the opposition and turn Nigeria into a one-party state, what cannot be denied is that they are happening under his watch, and he cannot pretend not to know, since that will be akin to hiding behind one finger. "In my capacity as an elder statesman rather than a politician, I have spoken to President Jonathan in private over these issues, but indications are that the strategy has not yielded positive fruits. I cannot, just because I am an opposition politician, fail to do what is expected of me as an elder statesman to help rescue our nation in times of great trouble and palpable uncertainty,” Muhammadu Buhari said.
''History will not be kind to me if I sit back while things turn bad, just so that no one will accuse me of partisanship. Yes, I am a politician. Yes, I am in the opposition. Yes, there is the tendency for my statement to be misconstrued as that of a politician rather than a statesman. But I owe it as matter of duty and honour, and in the interest of our nation, to speak out on the dangerous trajectory that our nation is heading.
''I can say, in all sincerity that I have seen it all, as an ordinary citizen, a military officer, a head of state, a man who has occupied many other sensitive posts and a politician. I have been a close participant and witness to Nigeria's political history,” Muhammadu Buhari added. ''Our country has gone through several rough patches, but never before have I seen a Nigerian President declare war on his own country as we are seeing now. Never before have I seen a Nigerian President deploy federal institutions in the service of partisanship as we are witnessing now. Never before have I seen a Nigerian President utilize the common wealth to subvert the system and punish the opposition, all in the name of politics. Our nation has suffered serious consequences in the past for egregious acts that are not even close to what we are seeing now. It is time to pull the brakes,'' Gen. Buhari warned.
He also advised President Jonathan to tarry a while, take a deep breath and ponder the impact of recent events in the polity, under his watch, on the survival of the nation and the sustenance of its democracy. The former Head of State said ‘subverting the Constitution of the Federal Republic’ in desperation, to impeach a state Governor, or deploying the institutions of state, some of which are symbols of the country's unity, just to kick an out-of-favor state Governor in the groin, can only breed anarchy and lead the nation down the slippery slope to wider conflict.
''The dangerous clouds are beginning to gather, and the vultures are circling, and these have manifested in Nasarawa where the ordinary people have defied guns and tanks, to protest the plan to impeach Gov. Umaru Tanko Al-Makura in a repeat of the bitter medicine forced down the throat of Gov. Murtala Nyako." ''The people's protest in Nasarawa is a sign of what to come if the federal authorities continue to target opposition state Governors for impeachment. In the long run, the impeachment weapon will be blunted. Positions will become more hardened on both sides and Nigeria and Nigerians will become the victims of arrested governance and possible anarchy,'' said Muhammadu Buhari.
Gen. Buhari also said that President Jonathan should remember that no democracy can thrive or survive without a vigorous opposition. Hence, he added, it will amount to a man cutting his nose to spite his face for anyone to embark on a journey to decapitate the opposition, as the current central government is doing. He said a man of power must realize that he cannot always do things just because he can do them.
''I, along with many other patriotic Nigerians, fought for the unity and survival of this country. Hundreds of patriotic souls perished in the battle to keep Nigeria one. The blood of many of our compatriots helped to water the birth of the democracy we are all enjoying today." ''Let no one, whether the leader or the led, the high or the low, a member of the ruling or the opposition do anything to torpedo the system. Let no one, whether on the altar of personal ambition or pretension to higher patriotic tendencies, do anything that can detonate the keg of gunpowder on which the nation is sitting. It is time for all concerned to spare a thought for the ordinary citizens who have yet to see their hopes, dreams and aspirations come to reality within the general context of nationhood,'' Muhammadu Buhari said in conclusion.