Presidency's vicious exchange with Obasanjo crosses threshold of decency – APC

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The All Progressives Congress (APC) says the presidency has been
greatly diminished by its decision to throw decorum
to the wind and engage former President Olusegun Obasanjo in a hot
exchange of words in what may now be described as
‘lettergate’, the latest in a series of scandals to hit the Jonathan presidency.
In a statement issued in Lagos on Thursday by its National Publicity
Secretary, Alhaji Lai Mohammed, the party said while it
is not interested in joining the fray over the issues contained in the
letters written by both men, the decision by the President to go
personal in his reaction crossed the threshold of decency and brought
the presidency – and indeed the country – into disrepute.
It said in other climes, the President would have simply issued a
terse response to such a letter denying the allegations that border on
national security, if any; as well as saying the former President’s
observations have been noted, and that the government would study them
and then engage with the former President in private, while assuring
that the ship of state is on course.
”Instead, the President’s response read like the stuff of gossip
magazines, and the exchange of words felt like what one would have
expected in a beer parlour. At the end of the day, the Presidency
allowed Obasanjo to take the higher moral ground by simply insisting
on the allegations he made in his letter and saying he would not
respond to the presidency’s reply
”The President, who accused Obasanjo of doing him a great injustice,
has himself done a great injustice to the Presidency,
which is an institution in which he is only a tenant. In the end, the
President of Africa’s most populous nation, the leader of the foremost
black nation on earth and the Commander-in-Chief of the Armed Forces
of the Federal Republic of Nigeria simply desecrated his own
presidency and allowed those who can only be likened to gravy train
passengers, rascals and knaves to seize the initiative from him.
”This is what happens when a President is surrounded by self-serving,
boot-licking and dishonest people, at the expense of seasoned
technocrats and veteran policymakers, who would have reminded the
President that while critics can afford to fire all sorts of darts at
him, as the custodian of the presidency at this point in time, he
cannot afford to respond in kind because, in doing so, he would be
debasing the presidency as an institution,” APC said.
The party said the President was not unaware of this because he
struggled in his letter to maintain some minimum level of decorum, and
then quickly lost control and engaged in a bare-knuckle fight.
”The President himself knows that he ought not to have engaged in
such exchange when he wrote early on in his letter: ‘It is with the
greatest possible reluctance that I now write this reply. I am most
uneasy about embarking on this unprecedented and unconventional form
of open communication between me and a former leader of our country
because I know that there are more acceptable and dignified means of
doing so’.
”However, he quickly jettisoned such reluctance and, in an
unfortunate debasement of the tone and quality of statecraft, went
full blast, calling the former President a liar, a conflict instigator
and an unreliable ally, among other inferred derogatory labels that
may have now shut the window to reconciliation between him and his
political God-father, in addition to portraying Nigerian leaders as
delinquents.
”To worsen matters, President Jonathan could not restrain himself
from using even the revered and ecclesial platform provided by his
appearance at a Church service on Christmas day to further lambaste
his critics and spew out hot words. This, surely, is not what is
expected of a President, a leader and anyone who wants to be a nation
builder. It is time to call a truce!” it said.
Alhaji Lai Mohammed
Interim National Publicity Secretary
All Progressives Congress (APC)
Lagos, Dec. 26th 2013

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