Being the text of a press conference addressed in Abuja on Wednesday, July 16th 2014 by the Chairman of the All Progressives Congress (APC), Chief John Odigie-Oyegun
Good morning, gentlemen of the press.
Please permit me to start off this press conference with a quote by Chilean writer Isabel Allende, which goes thus: ”What I fear most is power with impunity. I fear abuse of power, and the power to abuse.”
Isabel, a victim of the Pinochet military dictatorship, is not alone. All Nigerians must be worried about power with impunity, which is what President Goodluck Jonathan and his party, the PDP, have resorted to in their desperation to crush the opposition and destroy Nigeria in the process.
I have called this Press Conference to address the grave dangers facing Nigerians as a people, our country as a nation and our democracy as our hope, at this very critical time.
Events in Nigeria in the past few weeks point to a return to the dark old days of state dictatorship, lawlessness, impunity and repression.
Our freedoms are being emasculated, our economy being run to the ground, and our only hope of bringing about change – our democratic expression is being smothered before our very eyes all because President Goodluck Jonathan is so obsessed with reelection in 2015 at all cost that he is destroying not just all our key institutions but indeed the entire country.
At this critical juncture of our history and despite our desire for restraint and mature engagement with President Goodluck Jonathan and the ruling Peoples’ Democratic Party (PDP) it is evident that inaction is no longer an option and we must resist.
Indeed keeping quiet in the face of the ceaseless and unrelenting reckless violations of all known laws of the land and the Constitution will amount to complicity in the lawlessness and impunity that has become the norm under President Goodluck Jonathan.
We know it has been the dream of the ruling PDP to rule for 60 unbroken years, not minding if Nigeria becomes a desert land in the process.
Their evil machination has manifested in Ekiti. It has manifested yesterday in Adamawa, They have carried it to Nasarawa, and they have Edo, Osun and Rivers in their sights.
In the states mentioned, all of them opposition strongholds, President Jonathan and his party have abused national institutions, resorted to a crude use of force and engaged in unprecedented financial inducements to achieve their objectives.
All these anti-democratic tactics come under the umbrella of power with impunity!
But there is a bigger problem. President Jonathan is obsessed with his re-election in 2015, and he does not mind if Nigeria is destroyed in the process. He does not care whether every institution of state, be it the military, the courts, INEC or any other one, is destroyed. All that matters now is his re-election.
This explains why he has embarked on this war against the opposition, this war against all of Nigeria.
Having bastardized the army, the police, the courts, aviation and the electoral commission, he has now moved to the next level: Impeachment. Every impeachment or threat of it in recent times has the imprint of President Jonathan.
As we speak, the Governor of Adamawa, Murtala Nyako, has been impeached at the instance of the President and his party, they have moved to Nasarawa, their next stop, while Rivers, Edo and Borno, all APC states, are not being spared the destabilization that precedes their new-found weapon.
What was Nyako impeached for? Offences he allegedly committed five years ago. Those offences were not impeachable when he was in the PDP. But the moment he decamped to the APC, they became impeachable.
The entire “impeachment” of Governor Nyako is so fraught with irregularities, bias, judicial contradictions and in violation of every procedural and constitutional provisions that it is the worst manifestation of impunity. We intend to mount an immediate and rigorous challenge to this gross injustice to the party and people of Adamawa State.
What is Gov. Al-Makura of Nasarawa being threatened with impeachment for? Allegations of extra-budgetary expenditure, the same offence that President Jonathan has committed many times. In fact, on only on the 10th of July 2014, the Senate passed a resolution asking President Goodluck Jonathan to prepare and submit to the National Assembly supplementary budget to cover the over expenditure in the sum of N90.693 billion (US$585 billion) for PMS subsidy 2012 and the sum of N685.910 billion (US$4.430 billion) for Kerosene (DPK) subsidy expended without appropriation by the National Assembly in 2012 and 2013!
In Adamawa, each member of the State House of Assembly was allegedly given US $300,000 as part payment to impeach Gov. Nyako; some 500 million Naira has allegedly been moved to Nasarawa to induce the state’s lawmakers to impeach Gov. Al-Makura, and in Edo, each lawmaker has allegedly been offered 75 million Naira to impeach Gov. Adams Oshiomhole.
Now, who is more guilty of gross misconduct than a President who is frittering away our commonwealth to induce perfidious legislators to impeach their state Governors? Who is more guilty of gross misconduct than a President who deploys troops to harass, intimidate and arrest the opposition during an election? Who deserves to be impeached for gross misconduct more than a President who uses national institutions against the opposition, and shuts airports arbitrarily?
President Jonathan’s desperation knows no bounds, and he is willing to set a record of presiding over the greatest number of impeachments under his tenure. Before Nyako’s impeachment on Tuesday, a total of five impeachments have been carried out in all of the 15 years of the Fourth Republic. But between now and 2015, President Jonathan is championing five impeachments, in Adamawa, Nasarawa, Edo, Rivers and Borno.
In doing so, he is subverting hitherto respected national institutions. The army has been so compromised that it can no longer be trusted by anyone to be neutral. The army has been so abused that it now carries out police duties. Soldiers were deployed to guard the residence of the Chief Judge of Adamawa while the impeachment proceedings were on. Soldiers were deployed to guard each member of the impeachment panel. Soldiers were also deployed to guard the venue where the panel sat.
In Ekiti, soldiers were deployed to hunt down the opposition and prevent them from moving around freely, in contravention of the nation’s constitution. In Osun, soldiers are again to be deployed to shut down the state and go after the opposition.
By using the military for election duties, President Jonathan is clearly disobeying a court order as the Court of Appeal had ruled as far back as 2005 that the involvement of the military in the conduct of elections is an aberration and therefore unconstitutional. Indeed in the words of Salami, JCA on page 176 in the case of Yusuf v Obasanjo (2005) 18 NWLR (Pt. 956 [email protected])
“It is up to the police to protect our nascent democracy and not the military, otherwise the democracy might be wittingly or unwittingly militarised. This is not what the citizenry bargained for after 1999. Conscious step or steps should be taken to civilianise the polity and thereby ensure survival and sustenance of democracy.”
The Akure airport was suddenly slammed shut just to punish opposition leaders who had converged in Ekiti for Gov. Kayode Fayemi’s campaign rally. They had to travel all night by road to Lagos.
In Borno, under the guise of ensuring security, the Maiduguri Airport has been closed for several weeks, hence the Borno Governor and the people of the state, including the pilgrims heading to lesser Hajj, have been forced to travel by road to Kano to board their flights. However, the reason for shutting the airport has suddenly vanished as the private plane bearing former Governor Ali Modu Sheriff was allowed to land at the airport on Monday, the same day the Governor had to travel by road to Kano to see his brother who was involved in an accident on the same road!
Obviously, President Jonathan is fast turning Nigeria into George Orwell’s Animal Farm, where some animals are more equal than the others.
Welcome to Nigeria of President Goodluck Ebele Jonathan, where the only people who are deemed to be true Nigerians are those under the umbrella of the PDP, where the only people worth protecting are PDP members!
We have raised the alarm several times that President Jonathan’s obsession with his re-election is a clear and present danger to our democracy. Today, we say this President’s obsession with re-election is threatening the very existence of our nation.
Never in the history of our dear nation has any President waged war on the country the way this President is doing. Never in the history of our country has any President desecrated national institutions like this President is doing to the very institutions that sustain democracy. Never in the history of our country has our people been so divided along ethnic, religious, political and social lines, with poverty rising astronomically in the backdrop of a claimed rapid growth in the nation’s GDP.
We warn that excessive political greed will always have its consequences. Any student of Nigeria’s contemporary history will realize what acts of impunity and desperation to win elections at all cost did to the country in 1965, 1983 and 1993, just to mention a few.
We call on all friends of Nigeria to prevail on President Jonathan to apply the brakes in his obsessive quest for power, because every action has consequences.
It is time for those who can still get the ears of this President to remind him that his ambition is not worth the destruction of a whole country. All those who can must act now before it is too late!
I thank you all for listening
Chief John Odigie-Oyegun
National Chairman, All Progressives Congress