The Presidency has come under fire over its Tuesday allegation that it has evidence that some ‘disruptive elements’ are planning to recruit ethnic groups and politicians to pass a vote of no confidence on the administration of President Muhammadu Buhari.
The allegation by the Presidency, though came short of directly accusing the ‘disruptive elements’, which it described as religious leaders and former political leaders, of planning to overthrow the Buhari administration, its use of words, including earlier statements by the Military and the Department of State Services (DSS), were read by Nigerians, including prominent members of the Nigerian society and groups, to mean that the Presidency was alluding to an overthrow of the government.
A Senior Advocate of Nigeria (SAN), Robert Clark obviously stirred the hornet’s nest when, during a television interview, suggested that the military should take over government temporarily in order to restructure the country.
Clark’s, suggestion, though unpopular with Nigerians, came on the heels of growing discontent in the country over worsening insecurity that has led to unprecedented fear in the country, and calls for President Buhari to rein in the criminal elements terrorising Nigerians.
Mr. Femi Adesina, the President’s Special Adviser on Media and Publicity, in a statement on Tuesday, said the motive behind the plan by the ‘disruptive elements’ was to throw the country into further turmoil.
The statement read: “The Department of State Services on Sunday alerted on sinister moves by misguided elements to wreak havoc on the government, sovereignty and corporate existence of the country.
“Championed by some disgruntled religious and past political leaders, the intention is to eventually throw the country into a tailspin, which would compel a forceful and undemocratic change of leadership.
“Further unimpeachable evidence shows that these disruptive elements are now recruiting the leadership of some ethnic groups and politicians round the country, with the intention of convening some sort of conference, where a vote of no confidence would be passed in the President, thus throwing the land into further turmoil.
“The caterwauling, in recent times, by these elements, is to prepare the grounds adequately for their ignoble intentions, which are designed to cause further grief for the country.
“The agent provocateurs hope to achieve through artifice and sleight of hands, what they failed to do through the ballot box in the 2019 elections.”
Peeved by the allegation by the presidency, several Nigerians and groups, including the Arewa Consultative Forum (ACF), Afenifere, the Yoruba sociocultural group, the Pan Niger Delta Forum (PANDEF) elder statesman, Tanko Yakasai, Ohanaeze Ndigbo, the Middle Belt Forum (MBF) and the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), among others, have come hard on the presidency, accusing it of heating up the polity and reading meanings to every sincere comment and advice by Nigerians.
For the ACF, it was uncharitable for the Presidency to see and call every dissenting voice or perceived critics of the All Progressives Congress (APC) government as disgruntled elements.
The group, which spoke through its National Publicity Secretary, Emmanuel Yawe, said the Presidency has a penchant for viewing every critic with dark motives, which it said was wrong.
“The Presidency must be broad-minded enough to accommodate all shades of opinions. The criticism is done in good faith and if acted upon will help improve the situation in the country. It is wrong to see all critics as disgruntled, religious and past political leaders with dark motives. Some of them mean well for the government and the country”, the ACF spokesman said.
PANDEF on its part, accused the Presidency of chasing shadows instead of looking for how to surmount the myriad of problems facing the country.
According to PANDEF’s spokesman, Ken Robinson, tagging religious leaders and past political leaders as disgruntled elements under the current security situation in the country was shocking and least expected.
“PANDEF cautions that the Presidency should stop chasing shadows. Citizens are anxious and troubled, many are becoming hopeless, with even the security agencies seemingly helpless and vulnerable”, Robinson said.
For the PDP, the statement from the Presidency only shows that President Buhari and the ruling APC were being haunted by their shadows, insisting that they are afraid of experiencing what they did to others in the past.
In a statement by its National Publicity Secretary, Kola Ologbondiyan, the PDP added that the allegation by the Presidency was only a desperate attempt by the Buhari administration to blackmail Nigerians to cover up for its failures.
“Rather than live up to the responsibilities of office by taking charge and securing our nation, the Presidency is busy engaging in frivolous allegations against Nigerians.
“It is, however, imperative to state that the Buhari Presidency and the All Progressives Congress are being haunted by their own shadows as Nigerians know the persons as well as the political party with the history and penchant to scuttle democratically elected governments.
“Perhaps, the Presidency has forgotten that in 1983, Brigadier Muhammadu Buhari, as he was then known, led a military coup to truncate a democratically elected government thereby causing our nation a huge drawback on democratic governance.
“Also, in 2015, the APC, which was hurriedly formulated, made itself available as a vehicle of brigandage to disrupt our political process by beguiling Nigerians and taking power through violence, propaganda and falsehood”, the party said.
For elder statesman, Tanko Yakasai, the Buhari administration was only embarking on scaremongering by issuing statements on such a serious issue, adding that he does not support any change of government other than through the ballot box.
Yakasai said: “It is not enough to embark on scaremongering by issuing statements on such a serious issue. We have yet to recover from the violent overthrow of the Tafawa Balewa-led first Republic by young military officers. I do not support any change of government other than that which comes through the ballot box.”
The apex Igbo sociocultural group, Ohanaeze Ndigbo, also distanced itself from the allegation by the Presidency, saying it is not interested in anything coup.
The group’s spokesman, Chief Alex Ogbonnia, however, said that even the President himself knows that all was not well with the country.
“Ohanaeze is not interested in anything coup. Ohanaeze is interested that the President should listen to us and address the nation. The President should reorder his steps. He should root his governance in justice because everything has become injustice especially to the Igbo,” he said.
The Middle Belt Forum (MBF), on its part, viewed the allegation by the Presidency as an insult to the sensibilities of Nigerians, reminding the President that Nigeria was operating a democratic system of government.
The group’s National Publicity Secretary, Dr Isuwa Dogo said: “We view the statement as an expression of guilt by the Presidency for the deteriorating situation of things in the country including insecurity and its inability to stop it.”
For the Afenifere, the allegation was a non issue, as its leader, Chief Ayo Adebanjo insisted that Afenifere and other sociocultural groups in the South are only interested in the peaceful restructuring of the country.
“Who is interested in passing a vote of no confidence in Buhari? Who has confidence in Buhari before let alone pass any vote of no confidence in him”, Adebanjo asked.
Expectedly, Nigerians took to the social media, especially the micro blogging site, Twitter to express their anger and views on the allegation from the Presidency, with most declaring that it was a mere propaganda to divert attention from the real issues begging for attention.
For many, the allegation was also in line with the known blame game of the Buhari administration.
For Twitter user @IdorenyinEtuk5, an amendment of the Nigerian constitution to allow for citizens to call for early elections if not happy with government’s performance would have exposed the Buhari administration.
He wrote: “Let presidency call for amendment to the constitution to allow for citizens to call for early elections if they are dissatisfied with their govt and let’s see how Buhari will fair since they are worried about calls for Buhari’s removal as if it were illegal. DSS are so worthless to have said that it was a threat to national security. Same DSS that has nothing to offer where real threats to citizens are concerned. DSS must be scrapped, all its point men and women sacked.”
For @Abdultiggi, if removing the President will bring solution to the problems in the country, so be it. He wrote: “If by removing him will bring solution to the country then why not? Insecurity is killing our nation”, while @cthereality, concurred with him, declaring the statement from the Presidency was a cheap propaganda.
“My brother, this is the cheapest propaganda I’ve ever heard. Instead of facing the reality on ground, they’re busy raising false alarm. All we need is security. If they can’t secure us, what options do we have?”, he said.
For @sticksnsnares, removing the President to have a secure Nigeria is a welcome idea. He wrote: “Whatever they can do to remove him is on course. killings and kidnappings everyday and the President has refused to do anything but raising force alarm. A President that cannot come out openly to address his people, all we see are pictures. Prices of goods increase everyday”, while @udehNudeh prayed for the success of the plot, if there is any, insisting that Buhari did same thing before.. He wrote: “May the plot succeed. Why is @MBuhari afriad of being overthrown? But he had overthrown someone and made someone’s Government ungovernable…. He who lives in a glass shouldn’t throw stones….”
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For @DopplerFilmz, removing President Buhari would not be any big deal because he was once removed. “He was removed the first time, removing him again, at this time, will be a blessing to this nation”, he wrote while @creality wants government to concentrate on the real issues. “Please stop diverting our attention and fix what’s facing us. What a cheap propaganda”, he said.
@ucheclive believes the allegation by the presidency was part of the blame game of the Buhari administration, while @tobiduddleycoker wondered why the President and his handlers are afraid. “@MBuhari @GarShehu @FemAdesina you all are afraid; nobody is removing Buhari forcefully. Your ghost is chasing you. It is better @MBuhari resigns honorably for being a failure”, he wrote, while @abelcifezie declared that the government was merely chasing shadows.
He wrote: “Being chased by their shadows. No more, no less. Alleged #EndSars sponsors were “unmasked” in less than two weeks and their accounts frozen! Why can’t these people, who are more dangerous, be unmasked and picked up? Smells like a hoax, or a kite being flown!”