by Stanley Azuakola
For a while, we have not been entertained by the habitual exchange of words between the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) and the Congress for Progressive Change (CPC) or Gen. Muhammadu Buhari, to be precise. Since the two parties enjoy hurling personal attacks at each other, (see examples here, here, here and here), it is strange that about two months have passed since the last salvo was fired. Anyway, it was pleasant while it lasted, but as expected, the contending parties have resumed hostilities.
It all began last week when on a visit to Kano State, Buhari was alleged to have said this about the PDP: “Under normal circumstances, we are supposed to work strictly within the provisions of the constitution, but this is Nigeria and nothing is perfect and the only thing they (PDP) have not tampered with from 1999 to date in Nigeria is the Holy Koran.”
The PDP was not pleased at all, and its response came during the weekend through a statement by national publicity secretary of the party, Chief Olisa Metuh. Metuh expressed shock that Buhari could say such a thing despite all the efforts being made by his party to transform the country. Then he contrasted the PDP’s record with that of Buhari, saying that the general failed Nigerians and inflicted pain on them.
According to the PDP statement:
“There is still room for improvement no doubt, but Nigeria under the PDP has recorded tremendous gains in terms of advancing the rule of law and the fundamental rights of Nigerians, indeed, in other indices of good governance which democracy is usually expected to guarantee.
“We are shocked that an elder statesman could paint such an ugly picture, laced with tissue of lies, of his dear nation just to advance his political fortunes. We shudder that a former head of state under whose watch freedom of expression landed many Nigerians in detention on account of his obnoxious decrees, and who now enjoys such freedom, is utterly ungrateful to the efforts of our great party in advancing the cause of democracy.
“If the CPC leadership does not understand what the rule of law is, let’s oblige them with little details.
“Today, criticisms, even destructive ones are hurled at the PDP-led Federal Government and no one is harassed because we uphold the inalienable rights of the people which are at the heart of democracy. We throw our doors open to criticism so that we accommodate alternative views.
“Today, the PDP loses elections and winners are sworn-in and we do not use our incumbency at the centre to truncate the democratic wishes of the people. However, in the states held by the opposition parties, local elections are massively rigged as witnessed recently in Lagos and Ogun States and where we defy the odds to emerge victorious like in Imo State, machinery of government is used to frustrate the expressed wish of the people.
“The rule of law if we must state further is that in our drive for transparency and accountability, some leaders of our party have been caught by the long arm of the law and we never obstructed the course of justice.
“Do we need to add that the PDP-led Federal Government does have deference to the rule of law and that is why we enacted the Freedom of Information Act so that every Nigerian will not be in the dark as to how the nation is run, and so that they can be armed to demand for what is right?”
“Must we also tell the leadership of the CPC that in our congresses and convention, deference to the rule of law is the word? And that notwithstanding our size, we successfully manage dissenting views and establish strong leadership not dogged by factions like the CPC?
“And for Gen. Buhari, the evangelist of rule of law, Nigerians wish to know if unlawful incitement of the populace to violence and attack on the institutions of democracy are part of the rule of law?
“Is the imposition that marked the congresses of the CPC in 2011 which is still hunting the party till date an act in rule of law?
“We wish to advise Gen. Buhari to concentrate in giving Nigerians his alternative ideas and plan of action to what the PDP has at present or even engage us in a public debate on the values of good governance. We pray that his party or whatever alliance they are negotiating presents Buhari once more as a presidential candidate so that Nigerians will make their choice.”
Phew! Now they’ve done it, we expect a rebuttal from Gen. Buhari’s camp, followed by a rebuttal of his rebuttal, and on and on till this issue mellows out.
After that, we’ll begin the countdown for the next storm to reach the shore.