The Presidency has come under fire for alleging on Tuesday that it has proof that some “disruptive forces” are trying to hire ethnic groups and politicians to vote no confidence in President Muhammadu Buhari’s administration.
Though the Presidency did not directly accuse the ‘disruptive elements,’ which it described as religious leaders and former political leaders, of plotting to destabilise 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 social media community.
Robert Clark, a Senior Advocate of Nigeria (SAN), clearly ruffled feathers when he proposed during a television interview that the military should briefly take over government in order to restructure the country.
Clark’s suggestion, although unpopular with Nigerians, came on the heels of growing discontent in the country over worsening insecurity, which has led to unprecedented fear, 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, said in a statement on Tuesday that the plot by the “disruptive elements” was to further destabilise the country.
“The Department of State Services on Sunday issued a warning on sinister attempts by misguided elements to wreak havoc on the nation, sovereignty, and corporate life of the country,” according to the release.
“Sponsored by some disgruntled religious and former political leaders, the aim is to ultimately send the nation into a tailspin, necessitating a forceful and undemocratic change of leadership.
“Further unimpeachable evidence indicates that these divisive elements are now recruiting the leadership of some ethnic groups and politicians across the country with the aim of convening some kind of conference, where a vote of no confidence in the President will be passed, thereby causing further upheaval in the country.
“In recent times, these elements have been caterwauling in order to adequately prepare the ground for their ignoble purposes, which are intended to cause more grief for the government.
“The agent provocateurs expect to accomplish by deception and sleight of hand what they failed to accomplish through the ballot box in the 2019 elections.”
Piqued by the presidency’s allegation, many 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), have slammed it.
For the ACF, the Presidency was uncharitable in seeing and labelling any dissenting voice or perceived opponent of the All Progressives Congress (APC) government as disgruntled elements.
The party, which spoke through its National Publicity Secretary, Emmanuel Yawe, claimed that the Presidency has a tendency to accuse any critic of having dark motives, which it said was incorrect.
“The Presidency must be open-minded enough to accept both points of view. The critique is made in good faith and, if implemented, will help to strengthen the country’s situation. It is incorrect to dismiss all opponents as dissatisfied religious and former government figures with nefarious motives. Some of them have good intentions for the government and the country,” the ACF spokesman said.
PANDEF, for its part, accused the Presidency of chasing shadows rather than addressing the country’s numerous problems.
According to PANDEF spokesman Ken Robinson, labelling religious leaders and former political leaders as disgruntled elements in light of the country’s current security situation was surprising and unexpected.
“PANDEF warns the Presidency to avoid chasing shadows. Citizens are worried and distressed, and many are losing hope, with even security forces becoming helpless and vulnerable,” Robinson said.
The statement from the Presidency, according to the PDP, only demonstrates that President Buhari and the ruling APC are haunted by their shadows, maintaining that they are afraid of seeing what they did to others in the past.
The PDP added in a statement issued by its National Publicity Secretary, Kola Ologbondiyan, that the Presidency’s accusation was merely a futile attempt by the Buhari administration to blackmail Nigerians in order to cover up for its failures.
“Rather than shouldering the responsibilities of office by taking command and securing our country, the Presidency is preoccupied with making false accusations against Nigerians.
“It is, however, necessary to state that the Buhari Presidency and the All Progressives Congress are plagued by their own shadows, as Nigerians are aware of the individuals as well as the political party with a history of undermining democratically elected governments.
“Perhaps the Presidency has forgotten that in 1983, Brigadier Muhammadu Buhari, as he was then known, led a military coup that resulted in the abolition of a constitutionally elected government, causing our country a significant setback in democratic governance.
“In addition, in 2015, the APC, which was hastily formed, made itself available as a tool of brigandage to undermine our political process by duping Nigerians and seizing power through intimidation, propaganda, and falsehood,” the party said.
According to Tanko Yakasai, an elder statesman, the Buhari administration was just scaremongering by issuing statements on such a serious topic, and he does not endorse any change of government other than through the ballot box.
“It is not enough to engage in scaremongering by issuing statements on such a serious issue,” Yakasai said. We are also reeling from the brutal overthrow of Tafawa Balewa’s first Republic by young military officers. I oppose any reform of government that does not come from the ballot box.”
The apex Igbo sociocultural party, Ohanaeze Ndigbo, has also distanced itself from the Presidency’s accusation, stating that it is not involved in any coup.
However, the group’s spokesman, Chief Alex Ogbonnia, stated that even the President is aware that all is not well in the country.
“Ohanaeze is not involved in a takeover. Ohanaeze wishes for the President to listen to us and address the country. The President’s actions should be rearranged. He should base his administration on justice because “everything has become unfair, particularly to the Igbo,” he said.
The Middle Belt Forum (MBF), for its part, saw the Presidency’s allegation as an insult to Nigerian sensibilities, reminding the President that Nigeria operated a democratic system of government.
“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,” said the group’s National Publicity Secretary, Dr Isuwa Dogo.
The allegation was irrelevant to the Afenifere, whose leader, Chief Ayo Adebanjo, insisted that the Afenifere and other sociocultural groups in the South are only interested in the peaceful restructuring of the country.
“Who wants to cast a vote of no confidence in Buhari? “Who had faith in Buhari before, let alone voted against him?” Adebanjo enquired.
Expectedly, Nigerians took to social media, particularly the microblogging site Twitter, to express their outrage and views on the Presidency’s allegation, with most declaring that it was merely propaganda designed to divert attention away from the real issues begging for attention.
For many, the allegation was also in line with the Buhari administration’s well-known blame game.
According to Twitter user @IdorenyinEtuk5, amending the Nigerian constitution to allow citizens to call for early elections if they are dissatisfied with the government’s performance would have exposed the Buhari administration.
He wrote, “Let the presidency call for a constitutional amendment to allow citizens to call for early elections if they are dissatisfied with their government, and let’s see how Buhari fairs because they are concerned about calls for Buhari’s removal as if it were illegal.” The DSS is so worthless that they said it was a threat to national security. The same DSS that has nothing to offer when it comes to real threats to citizens. DSS must be abolished, and all of its point men and women must be fired.”
If removing the President will solve the country’s problems, so be it, according to @Abdultiggi. He wrote: “If by eliminating him would bring solution to the country then why not? Insecurity is destroying our nation”, though @cthereality, concurred with him, declaring the comment from the Presidency was a cheap propaganda.
“My brother, this is the cheapest propaganda I’ve ever seen. Instead of facing the truth on ground, they’re busy raising false alarm. All we need is safety. “What choice do we have if they can’t protect us?” he asked.
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….”
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!”