The Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), pan-Yoruba socio-political group, Afenifere, Arewa Consultative Forum (ACF), the Christian Association of Nigeria (CAN) have described as diversionary the allegation by the presidency that some religious and political leaders were plotting to forcibly remove President Muhammadu Buhari from office.
They said in separate statements that the presidency was searching for scapegoats to blame for the government’s abysmal performance.
Recall that presidential spokesman, Mr. Femi Adesina yesterday alleged in a statement that available evidence indicated that some disgruntled religious and past political leaders had plotted to throw the country into a tailspin, which would compel an undemocratic change of leadership.
Adesina’s statement came a day after the Department of State Services (DSS) alleged that some “misguided elements” were threatening Nigeria’s unity and peaceful co-existence.
DSS spokesman, Dr. Peter Afunanya, in a statement on Monday, had said that among those threatening the federal government and Nigeria’s unity are “some religious and past political leaders who have either called for a forceful change of government or mass action against it.”
The presidency in a reaction to the DSS yesterday said there is proof that the disruptive elements are now recruiting the leadership of some ethnic groups and politicians round the country, with the intention of convening some sort of a conference, where a vote of no confidence would be passed on the president, thus throwing the land into 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,” Adesina said.
He said Nigerians have opted for democratic rule since 1999 and the only accepted way to change a democratically elected government is through elections, “which hold at prescribed times in the country as any other way is patently illegal, and even treasonable. Of course, such would attract the necessary consequences.”
The presidency also accused external forces of collaborating with some individuals and groups to cause crisis in the country and warned that it will not take kindly to such moves.
“These discredited individuals and groups are also in cahoots with external forces to cause maximum damage in their own country. But the presidency, already vested with mandate and authority by Nigerians till 2023, pledges to keep the country together, even if some unruly feathers would be ruffled in the process,” it said.
In its reaction, the PDP described the allegation as a resort to blackmail in the face of the failure of the Buhari administration.
In a statement by its spokesman, Mr. Kola Ologbondiyan, the PDP stated that the Buhari presidency and the All Progressives Congress (APC) 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 government.
“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.
“Even in 2019, Nigerians will be quick to remember how the APC imported bandits, vandals and thugs from neighbouring countries, as political mercenaries, to unleash violence, disrupt our voting processes and muscle itself into power,” said the PDP.
The party urged the presidency and the APC to look inwards for those allegedly plotting to upturn democracy.
“Our party believes that the statement by the Buhari presidency is an attempt by the APC to heighten political tension in our country ahead of the 2023 election, having realised that they cannot face the people at the polls,” it added.
It advised the APC to know that such blackmail against Nigerians cannot work.
“For us in the PDP, our party will remain undeterred, alongside other patriotic Nigerians, in our commitment towards the sustenance and stability of our democracy as well as the unity and corporate existence of our country, Nigeria,” the PDP said
For its part, Afenifere said Buhari had lost control of the country’s leadership, adding that nobody needs to pass a vote of no confidence in him before the world knows that he has failed Nigerians.
The leader of Afenifere, Mr. Ayo Adebanjo, said Buhari had lost control of the country’s leadership, adding that nobody needs to pass a vote of no confidence in him before the whole world knows that he has failed Nigerians.
He stated that given Buhari’s poor performance, there is no need for any group to “gather anywhere to pass a vote of no confidence in him.”
“Who is interested in passing vote of no confidence in Buhari? Who has confidence in Buhari before let alone pass any vote of no confidence in him? That is not the issue. The main thing is to restructure the country back to federalism and forget all these gossips by Adesina. We don’t have to pass a vote of no confidence for the world to know we don’t have any confidence in Buhari.
“I don’t know of any group who wants to take over the government, but I know those of us who want the country to be restructured in a peaceful manner.
“Those of us in Afenifere and all other groups in the South who are agitating for restructuring are the friends of Nigeria, are the friends of Buhari. I hope it is not too late for Buhari to realise this,” he said.
Also reacting, the Arewa Consultative Forum (ACF) said it was wrong for the presidency to see all its critics as disgruntled people with ulterior motives.
Spokesman for the group, Mr. Emmanuel Yawe, said in an interview that the presidency should be broad-minded and tolerate all shades of opinions.
According to him, many criticisms against the government are done in good faith to help improve the situation in the country.
“Many criticisms are 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.”
For his part, chairman of the Kaduna State chapter of the Christian Association of Nigeria (CAN), Rev. Joseph Hayab, said the president and his team were becoming confused.
“The president and his team have gone blind and confused since in their world view, Rev. Father Mbaka and others who are telling them the truth about what is happening in the country have now become enemies.
“You should know they have run out of excuses and have turned to blackmail even those who love them and want them to do what is good for the generality of Nigerians.
“Every religious leader who chooses to stand with the people and is demanding good governance is now disgruntled.”
The CAN chairman said the presidency needed “to pause a little and remember that these people whom they are calling names today stood with them and for them when those who think they know them more warned against it.”
He added: “Nigerians have since passed their vote on Buhari and his government after watching helplessly how bandits have taken over the country; our young university students are being killed and destroyed.”
Hayab appealed to those who are making statements on behalf of the presidency to be careful with their words and strive to win the support and confidence of the people with love and facts, not blackmail.