The Presidency on Sunday dismissed criticisms of the Goodluck Jonathan administration by the two main opposition parties, saying their national leaders-Maj. Gen. Muhammadu Buhari (retd) and Asiwaju Bola Tinubu were “heavily burdened political liabilities.”
Senior Special Assistant to Jonathan on Public Affairs, Dr. Doyin Okupe, told journalists at a news conference in Lagos, that the Peoples Democratic Party-led Federal Government would not be distracted by their ‘empty’ criticisms.
Tinubu had at the ACN convention in Lagos on Thursday, said “The current government’s trademark is to throw empty words and hollow actions at our problems,” while Buhari vowed that the All Progressives Congress would resist any move by the PDP to rig elections in 2015.
But Okupe said Buhari and Tinubu, the arrowheads of the move by the ACN, CPC and the All Nigeria Peoples Party to fuse into APC, lacked “the antecedent that support their claim of possessing what it takes to move Nigeria forward.”
He said, “It is evident that the proposed merger revolves around two personalities only, Senator Tinubu and Retd.- Gen. Buhari. Unfortunately, both are heavily burdened political liabilities. ”
The Presidential aide described the proposed merger as “incongruous alliance of political weaklings, ,dysfunctional Lilliputians and repeatedly frustrated political power mongers.”
He claimed that the promoters of the APC were desperate to “supplant the Jonathan administration, forgetting that one million giant ants can never muster the required strength to lift a concrete pole much less of a nationally entrenched pillar and structurally established institution like the PDP.”
The Ogun State-born medical doctor called the ACN a “motley assembly” lacking in internal democracy and “notorious for outsourcing” its presidential candidates from the PDP.
Noting that the ANPP “had existed for 13 years without any meaningful impact on the polity,” Okupe predicted that the APC would likely pick its presidential candidate from the rank of the PDP stalwarts..
He said, “It is noteworthy that the major plank of this motley assembly, the ACN, is notorious for outsourcing its presidential candidate from the ranks of the same PDP they gleefully villify.
“In 2003, their choice was Vice-President Atiku Abubakar, who now knows them better. In 2011, it was a protégé of former President Olusegun Obasanjo, Mallam Nuhu Ribadu, who filled the slot although he was later betrayed and sacrificed on the altar of self interest.
“Presently, the debates within the factionalised alliance suggest that they will not mind fielding another PDP stalwart as their presidential candidate.”
Okupe said that the administration of Tinubu in Lagos State was characterised by labour crisis and that it did not at any time attain 60 per cent budget implementation.
He said, “The leader of the opposition, Chief Bola Tinubu, who spoke disparagingly about the Federal Government on a number of issues was once a governor of Nigeria’s richest state for eight years and we all have a record of what he made of that position.
“ Tinubu who spoke about meagre wages for public servants in Nigeria was known to have ignored calls of Lagos civil servants for a N7,500 monthly wage and when he eventually buckled to the pressure of Labour leaders, he wickedly sacked the arrowhead of the struggle in the person of Comrade Ayodele Akele, who was never re-instated.
“Yet Tinubu spoke of the present government as ‘heartless and mean that put the interest of small elite above the interest of the common working man and woman who are the backbone of this nation.”
On the National Chairman of the ACN,Chief Bisi Akande, he noted that when he (Akande) was the governor of Osun State, workers were denied N5,500 minimum wage.
He added that the Akande regime laid off over 9,000 workers during its four years in office
He said, “Comrade Adams Oshiomhole, who was then Nigeria Labour Congress President and now Governor of Edo State led workers on protest in Osun during the period but Chief Akande remained adamant. Where then is the credential of these people to talk about job creation, promotion of workers interest and democratic etiquette?.”
He also described the decision of two nominated members of the Amnesty Implementation Committee, Mallam Sanni and Alhaji Datti Ahmed, to reject their membership, as “shameful”.
Okupe said, “They wanted to do it as private citizens and take the glory. Some people feel because a committee has been established, their importance will be undermined.”
Arguing that corruption with over 50 years existence in the country would not disappear overnight, the SSA added that Jonathan overhauled the leadership of government agencies saddled with the responsibility and signed the Freedom of Information Bill in order to reinvigorate the war against corruption.
Faulting Okupe, the ACN National Publicity Secretary, Lai Mohammed, said, “Lagos State Government under Asiwaju Ahmed Tinubu was the first state to increase workers’ salaries without them asking him. Osun State witnessed unrivalled infrastructural development during the tenure of Chief Bisi Akande, these records are there for all to see.”