Posted on Monday, 06 May 2013 18:11

Nigerian opposition lambasts President Jonathan over violence

By Konye Obaji Ori

Residents gather at the border town of Baga, after heaving fighting between security forces and Islamist militants, April 21, 2013./Photo©ReutersA leading Nigerian leading opposition party has accused President Goodluck Jonathan of paying a blind eye to the recent killing of several civilians in the town of Baga during a standoff between government forces and members of a terrorist Islamist group.

In a statement, Action Congress of Nigeria (ACN) on Sunday said Jonathan was creating political animosity by trying to silence perceived opposition.

"The Jonathan administration is anchored on a Transformation Agenda," said Lai Mohammed, the ACN spokesperson.

"But the only transformation that we can see is the one from a democratically-elected president to an emperor, a despot. 

"If the president is not prevailed upon to change course, Nigeria may be in for another season of anomie, reminiscent of the days of the maximum ruler who took the country to the brink before his sudden demise."

ACN accused the president and his administration of "gradually plunging into despotism with a brazen assault on the freedom of expression and the press."

It also accused the government of using national institutions against perceived enemies and "a growing inclination to denigrate opposition leaders."

However, Jonathan's spokesperson Rueben Abati dismissed the accusations as baseless.

"The paradox is that those who do not allow freedom and equality in their own party or backyard, those who are well known as self-proclaimed Godfathers and closet despots, are the same ones who are now quick to accuse others of despotism,"  he said.

Abati accused indulging in 'politics of abuse and of poor understanding of the word 'despotism'.

"The ACN should start by removing the log in its eyes. President Jonathan is not a despot," he said.

"ACN is the real abode of budding despots in Nigeria."

Meanwhile, another opposition party the Congress for Progressive Change (CPC) accused Jonathan of not doing enough about Baga following the clashes with Boko Haram.

CPC spokesperson Rotimi Fashakin said the president had not visited the town where 187 civilians were reportedly killed by a multi-national force, including Nigerian soldiers,  to show that he was concerned.

But Abati told reporters that the CPC were playing to the gallery.

"The problem with them is that they consider everything "very unacceptable", and in particular everything relating to President Jonathan," he said.

"If they care to know, President Jonathan has been very pro-active in dealing with the Baga incident.


He ordered an immediate probe by the military high command and the intervention of rescue and aid agencies, who have been working with the Borno state government and other agencies of state to ensure that the victims are rehabilitated and assisted with relief materials," Abati said.

ACN argued that there is "a growing propensity to stifle the freedom of expression and freedom of the press."

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