PRESIDENT Muhammadu Buhari said yesterday that ruling All Progressives Congress, APC, could have used the Army and the Police to overrun the opposition but for the interest of the nation.
Buhari also said mistakes made by the APC led to the party losing some states to the opposition Peoples Democratic Party, PDP in the 2019 elections.
But the Nigerian Bar Association, NBA, described the President’s statement as unfortunate, saying the President was not doing anybody a favour by adhering to the rule of law.
The President, who stated this at a meeting with North East governors at the President Villa, Abuja, told the governors: “I assure you that the government is doing its best. Lack of resources has hit us very hard.
‘’COVID-19 is a phenomenon. It has no respect for colour, you can’t smell it, you can’t see it, you can’t hear it. America and us are the same. It is a fantastic phenomenon. I think we should all go back to God.
“I assure you North East governors, especially the governor of Borno State, that we go to bed and wake up thinking about you and how to secure our country. That is the fundamental responsibility of a government; security.
‘’In our party, we recognize this. We campaigned on three fundamental issues: security, economy and fighting corruption.
“Nigerians, we thank God, understood us and they voted for us. In 2019, we went round the whole country, saying the same thing and apologizing for not doing better, but we are doing our best. I think Nigerians believe us and we did our best.
“It is true that we lost some states as a ruling party in a developing country, which is normal. I am proud of that because we are impartial, that is why as ruling party, we lost some states. That means we have our own mistakes.
“Some of those that defeated us are sitting here (PDP governors). We know we are a developing country but we respect our country, otherwise, with the use of Army, the police and the rest of them, we could have overrun you. We just wanted to show that we are humane and we are Nigerians. We will continue to do our best.”
Reacting to the President’s statement, National Publicity Secretary of Nigerian Bar Association, NBA, Kunle Edun, said no president, governor or political leader could say he was doing Nigeria and Nigerians any good by adhering to the dictates of the rule of law.
He said: “The truism that no one is above the law and that the law is no respecter of any person, creed, status or political affiliation finds its abode more in a democratic system of government. It is the people of Nigeria that donated political power to the elected leaders in return for the state guaranteeing their security and welfare.
“No President, Governor or political leader can say that he is doing Nigeria and Nigerians any good by adhering to the dictates of the rule of law. He has sworn to the Oath of Allegiance and must be bound by it.
‘’It is unfortunate that many political leaders think and act like slave masters immediately they get into office. History will always record each for what he says and does in office.”
Also reacting, Peoples Democratic Party, PDP, said it was a sad commentary for President Muhammadu Buhari, who won election on a free ballot in 2015, to contemplate or bemoan “how he could have used security agencies to undermine the integrity of the electoral process in our country.”
The party in a statement by its spokesman, Kola Ologbondiyan, said Nigerians were aware that in the 2019 presidential election, such despotic and oppressive tactics were deployed to circumvent the electoral process and the wishes of Nigerians.
The statement read: “As a party, the PDP hopes this is not foreplay of what the All Progressives Congress, APC and Buhari Presidency is planning to exert in the Edo and Ondo governorship elections scheduled for September and October 2020 respectively.
“Nigerians witnessed the overrunning of Ekiti, Osun, Kogi, Bayelsa and Kano states by the APC using compromised security officials and thugs. In Kogi State, a police helicopter was used to disperse the electorate, who were on the queue to perform their civic duties on Election Day. Mrs. Salome Abuh, a frontline PDP woman leader was burnt to death.
“Contrary to Mr. President’s expressed concerns, Nigerians have never witnessed the level of electoral impunity seen under his administration.
“The President must advise his party to allow INEC to carry out its responsibilities without interference.”
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