The ruling party, All Progressives Congress (APC) and its archrival, the Peoples’ Democratic Party (PDP) engaged each other in a fiery media war-of-words over the weekend following the controversial twist President Muhammadu Buhari’s ant—corruption war has taken in recent times.
PDP’s press statement on Saturday accusing the presidency of political with-hunting, high-handedness and lack of adherence to the rules of law in its ongoing anti-corruption campaign sparked off the latest media spat. PDP National Publicity Secretary, Chief Olisa Metuh had in a press statement claimed that President Buhari-led regime has exhibited trappings of despotism, including ruling without a constitutional component of a cabinet, persistent abuse of power, undermining of democratic institutions, invasion of state government and personal houses, injecting confusion into the judiciary and hounding of individuals perceived to be against its interests”.
The statements read further: “With the unfolding of events; the deliberate infractions and crass abuse of power by the President Muhammadu Buhari-led APC Federal Government, it is no longer in doubt that the nation is on a quick slide into fascism and official terrorism’, Metuh declared on Saturday.
However, in a quick fired counter-statements, the ruling APC accused PDP of openly launching a counter-offensive against the efforts of the Buhari administration to rid the country of impunity and corruption for selfish ends.
“Saturday’s Press Statement by the PDP is nothing but a thinly-veiled frontal assault on the relentless efforts of the Buhari Administration’s to clean the Augean Stable of the last PDP Federal Government. With its statement that is nothing but an unabashed support for impunity and corruption, as well as its major actors, the PDP has now confirmed itself as the official ‘poster boy’ for corruption in Nigeria,” APC replied in a statement issued in Lagos on Saturday by its National Publicity Secretary, Lai Mohammed.
Metuh, on Sunday, issued another statement on behalf of the PDP, declaring that no amount of blackmail and diversionary tactics by the APC would deter it from exposing the deliberate agenda, already in motion, by the present administration to destroy the nation’s democracy and impose a dictatorship in the country.
“While we understand the nervousness of Alhaji Lai Mohammed to remain relevant, especially in the face of desperation for an appointment, this administration must come to terms with the fact that democracy requires accountability, adherence to the rule of law and constitutional order, and not the crass infractions, executive arrogance, intolerance and undermining of the legislature; the symbol of the sovereignty of the people that we now witness under the APC”, Metuh argued.
“The question is, has the President Muhammadu Buhari-led APC government not exhibited all the trappings of despotism, including ruling without a constitutional component of a cabinet, persistent abuse of power, corrupting of democratic institutions, quest to appropriate the National Assembly, in spite of the principle of separation of powers; invasion of state government and personal houses, injecting confusion into the judiciary and hounding of individuals perceived to be against its interests?” he queried.
Shortly after Metuh’s statement was releaded, Mohammed fired counter-salvo, declaring that a rash of wild accusations against the APC-led Federal Government was plans to distract the Buhari administration from its onerous task of reviving the country’s fortunes.
“The PDP is wondering why we are not responding to the wild accusations emanating from their fertile imagination. It is because we consider the accusations nothing but an irritant,” Mohammed said.
He went further: “Mr. Metuh wrote that ‘this administration must come to terms with the fact that democracy requires accountability, adherence to the rule of law and constitutional order’: very interesting, because if the PDP had known all that, it would still have remained in power at the centre. It is therefore clear that the PDP spokesman has been so traumatized by the defeat of his party that he sometimes imagines he is writing about the APC when indeed he is listing the failings of his fallen party, the PDP,” APC said.
The APC spokesperson, further challenged Mr. Metuh to substantiate the claim in his Sunday statement about contracts allegedly awarded to the APC National Spokesman or be ready to do so in court. “For the avoidance of any doubt, the APC spokesman has never been involved in any airport fencing contract in Osun or any deal involving fraudulent purchase or supply of ambulances anywhere in Nigeria,” it said.
He insisted that Metuh is mortally afraid that he could be consumed by the ongoing anti-corruption battle, because of the allegations of graft hanging on his neck, as contained in published petitions to the anti-graft agencies from within his own party, rather than mere conjecture from anyone “Mr. Metuh’s assault on the Buhari Administration’s anti-corruption battle is a futile attempt at saving his own neck and that of his party. Unfortunately, it is too late in the day for them, going by the quantum of allegations against them,” the party said.
The PDP had in its earlier statements accused President Buhari of operating a totalitarian regime. A statements issued by Olisa Metu read in parts: “How else can one explain the relentless interferences in the activities of the National Assembly, a separate and independent arm of government, in addition to the bitterness with which the Presidency and the APC hold the duly elected leadership of the Senate, simply because it is not occupied by their preferred candidates?
“If not for a possible ulterior motive of appropriating the federal legislature as a means to undermine its statutory role of checks and balances and set the stage for dictatorship, what other reasons could there be for the current fixation on the leadership of the Senate by the APC and the Presidency?
It went further: “Nigerians are still waiting for APC, a party which prides itself as a progressive platform, to respond to the widely condemned invasion of Akwa-Ibom state government house by the Department of State Services (DSS), under the direct instructions from the Presidency. Is it not part of the plot activated for possible forceful takeover of PDP states and impose a one-party regime in Nigeria?
“What about the July reprehensible invasion and sealing of Rivers local councils by the federal controlled Police, who also barred members of caretaker committees that were duly appointed by the state government to take charge of the councils? In the same vein, how else can one explain the undue interferences of the DSS in the activities of election tribunals in PDP controlled states of Rivers, Akwa-Ibom, Delta, Abia, Taraba and others where electoral officers are being harassed, intimidated and detained, ostensibly to influence judgments against the PDP?
“This is not to talk about the intolerance and arrogance witnessed in the venom with which the APC attack well-meaning Nigerians, including highly revered national leaders, for daring to counsel the Federal Government on some observed undemocratic tendencies under their ‘new Sheriff’, a development which has resulted in the setting in of an environment where citizens, irrespective of political affiliations, can no longer freely express their views.
By Olisemeka Obeche