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Don’t set Nigeria on fire, Jonathan warns

President Good­luck Jonathan on Thursday fron­tally took on two of his predecessors who routinely criticize his ad­ministration in public.

He urged them keep the respect and awe of the office of President by using the opportunities available to them at the National Council of State to advise the government instead of going to the press.
Major General Muham­madu Buhari, the presi­dential candidate of the All Progressives Congress (APC), is a former mili­tary ruler. As the main challenger of President Jonathan for the office in the 2015 election, Buhari has consistently criticized the ruling government.
Former President Olusegun Obasanjo was a military ruler who handed over power to the civilians in 1979. He returned to the office in 1999 and spent two terms. He has consis­tently criticized the Jona­than government openly.
President Jonathan, who spoke during a spe­cial Christmas Day Ser­vice at the St. Mathews Anglican Church, Abuja, berated the former leaders whom he failed to name. He accused them of fail­ing to take advantage of the instrumentality of the Council of State, of which they are permanent mem­bers, but often run to the press to criticize the pres­ent Federal Government.
He accused another set of his critics of seeking to force themselves into power by making state­ments that are capable of polarising the country.
The President urged politicians to market themselves without at­tacking him, saying that only Nigerians will decide their leaders at all levels.
He also made a veiled reference to Rivers State Governor, Rotimi Amae­chi who recently threat­ened that the APC was ready to form a parallel government if next year’s elections are rigged. Jona­than questioned the basis of such threats, saying there was nothing that should make any office seeker brag that he would win his election.
He said: “I re-assure you that we will continue to do more. It is a week to the end of the year, next year, from January, we will see all political actors campaigning and from the middle of February to the end, we will have the elec­tions at the various levels.
“I am very sure that those of you who mean well for this country will never be happy with us.”
The president contin­ued: “As a politician, you want people to elect you, to perform a responsibil­ity. If you mean well for the country, the country is nobody’s personal estate but you want to serve. If people want you to serve, you serve, if they say no, you leave
“Nigeria is nobody’s per­sonal estate, Nigeria is no­body’s business enterprise, Nigeria is nobody’s father’s property, it belongs to all Ni­gerians.”
He spoke further: “I get embarrassed when we the politicians, maybe includ­ing me, make provocative statements; statements that create division among Nigerians; statements that can set this country ablaze. I don’t think that is what a leader should do. I don’t think that is the kind of seed a leader should sow.
“Those who take govern­ment by violence, look at African countries, those who kill to take power, they never end well. Few cases, yes, probably in a society not everybody goes the same way but on the aver­age one has recently hap­pened in west Africa.
“If a politician wants to take power whether at the House of Assembly level, at the House of Representa­tives or Senate or governor or president, you don’t sow seed of discord and enmity because of course, it will consume you.
“As a nation, we know that if anybody who has the privilege of being a gover­nor of a state after serving, he becomes a senior citizen of that state, it is your duty to assist in-coming govern­ment.
“If you happen to serve as the head of government or as a president of this coun­try, in fact at the national level, we have the highest authority called the Coun­cil of State, the permanent members of the council of state are past presidents and past Chief Justices of the country. The idea is that they have vast experience in a number of things and they can bring their expe­riences to bear in terms of advising any president at any time. That was why that body was created by the constitution.
“But if we abuse our­selves, kill ourselves to be in office, then who will fin­ish serving and still want to attend the Council of State meeting for somebody who probably abused you through life, it is not pos­sible.
“For us who are look­ing for various offices, we should just talk about what we can do for Nigerians, you can market yourself but not to sow the seed of discord.
“For a politician to stand up, who is even a Christian to say that if he fails elec­tion, he will form a parallel government. What makes him feel that he must win the election? Even me as a serving president, what makes me feel I must win the election, no matter what I think I am? Nige­rians will decide who will govern them at the state level, or federal level, state assemblies or the National Assembly in terms of the federal constituencies and the senatorial districts.

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