The All Progressives Congress, APC, has described critics of its directive to its National Assembly members to shut down the Federal Government as those who are either ignorant of the workings of democracy or those who have opted to play to the gallery for pecuniary gains.
The opposition party in a statement by its Interim National Publicity Secretary, Alhaji Lai Mohammed pointed out that the directive was already having a positive effect on the situation in Rivers State as the members of the Save Rivers Movement (SRM) were able to, for the first time, stage a peaceful rally last Saturday without disruption by the police.
“This is exactly what we are saying, that Nigerians, irrespective of their party leaning, who wish to stage a peaceful protest anywhere in the country must be able to do so without the police looking away while hired goons attack them. It is all about justice, fairness and equity, without which democracy will not thrive. We will be watching to see if what happened on Saturday represents a paradigm shift in Rivers or it is just a flash in the pan”, the party said.
APC said there is nothing anti-democratic, anti-people or inciting about the directive, which is aimed at ending the reign of impunity in Rivers State before it spreads to other parts of the country and scuttle the nation’s democracy, wondering why it is so difficult for President Goodluck Jonathan to act, for almost a year, as a part of the country he was elected to govern goes up in flames.
“We hereby reiterate the directive, which is a product of deep thinking and robust debate within our party’s NEC to save our democracy, and we commend our members in the National Assembly for their unequivocal support for our stand, and for understanding that filibustering or legislative non-cooperation are veritable tools of democracy”, it said.
The party said already, copycat attacks and intimidation of APC members have already been launched by the government and the police in Gombe, because they have taken a cue from what is happening in Rivers.
“All over Gombe, our party flags, billboards and posters are being vandalized by hoodlums aided and abetted by the police. Our youth supporters are being arrested while our members are being threatened by the police and the state government officials.
“They say the non-approval of the 2014 budget will pauperize Nigerians, as if the yearly ritual of budget passing since 1999 has benefited anyone but the fat cats. In any case, of what use is a budget when the lives of citizens are at stake? Are budgets not made for the people? Do they understand that even the budgets are based largely on earnings from oil, which we cannot even produce if the violence in Rivers escalates and spreads to other oil-producing states?” APC asked.
The party added that “They say our directive is anti-people without understanding that those who are being daily intimidated, beaten and shot in Rivers are also Nigerians. They say we are anti-democratic without understanding that democracy cannot thrive in an atmosphere of impunity, the like of which we have in Rivers.
“Where were these same critics when the impudent police commissioner in Rivers, egged on by a conniving presidency, thumbed his nose at the Constitution by turning himself to the de facto Governor of the state and refusing to subordinate himself to the elected Governor who is the chief security officer of his state? Where were these critics when a serving Senator was shot perhaps by the police? Where were these critics when women and children were teargased and innocent civilians beaten black and blue? Did they raise any voice against the attack on journalists whose offence was that they went to cover a rally?”