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The PDP has made a habit of wild statements and irresponsible conjecture. This posture reflects the strong synergy between that party and its government whose record is a long litany of incompetence, insensitivity, impunity and needless deaths. In place of governance, the PDP government offers excuses or blames others for its glaring failures. If its officials are not blaming jobseekers for the poor crowd control that led to fatalities, its officials will be busy shirking their duty to uphold the welfare and security of the people. Yet every attempt by the PDP government to politicise and trivialise its abject security failures merely reminds everyone that it is not governing.
The latest statement from PDP spokesman Olisa Metuh is a poor and vain effort to distract attention from governance deficits. His tool is to distort words from leading opposition politicians, and then misname his resulting concoction as evidence.
Yet the PDP ought to be wary when it comes to the subject of twisting speech; a terrain where it is vulnerable. After the 1 October 2010 bombing in Abuja, President Jonathan was engulfed in the unedifying spectacle of trying to absolve the organisation that had claimed responsibility for it. When the United Nations building suffered a terrorist outrage, the president visited the scene to assure Nigerians that it is their turn to experience some of that global scourge.
Weeks after a presidential aide was caught employing the ruse of a pseudonym to disseminate poison, mum has been the response of the government. Like Metuh’s statement, that effort was aimed at smearing someone at odds with the government with allegations of links to terror.
Media commentaries have already reflected some concerns about whether terror persists because the government sees political advantage in it. With schools, towns and army barracks still being attacked in the North-East, it is clear that our gallant security forces need to be better resourced and led to secure lives and property. That solemn duty is what should exercise a government worthy of the name. But this current regime is so seized by electoral calculations that it neglects its basic duties.
Terror is a crime, as is abetting it. No competent government will use evidence of terror links only for purposes of propaganda. But what do we see from the PDP? A pathetic effort to criminalise the speech of its opponents, and somehow transform that into “evidence”. Why is this “evidence” not being tested in a competent court of law? Nigerians will not be fooled by specious arguments, not least from people mired in the PDP’s medieval ethos that mistake presence in or closeness to a government with patriotism.
Mallam Nasir El Rufai will continue to discharge his patriotic duty of speaking out against incompetence and electoral skulduggery. He wishes to remind Metuh and his likes that political banter is no justification for libel.
Muyiwa Adekeye [Media Adviser to Nasir El-Rufai]
23 March 2014