The presidency has cautioned Nigerians, especially opinion leaders to exercise restraint in their choice of words to avoid heating up the polity and causing acrimony within the country.
Senior Special Assistant to the President on Media and Publicity, Garba Shehu who gave the advice on Wednesday in a statement he issued, noted that some criticisms over the President’s Monday broadcast to the nation were way off the mark.
While he expressed satisfaction that a majority of the citizens welcomed the broadcast, Mr Garba explained that critics of President Muhammadu Buhari’s comments in restructuring had to understand that the president has no power to impose restructuring on the country by military diktat.
According to him, the National Assembly members are the elected representatives of the people who can handle agitations for restructuring and other constitutional changes.
He explained that the president is constitutionally bound to work with the National Assembly to deal with such complex issues, reminding critics that the president would not exercise arbitrary powers or bypass the legislature in taking such fundamental decisions.
“Changes don’t happen on a whim in a democracy,” said the statement, adding that “the ‘immediate effect’ military mentality cannot work under a democratic order” and that, “since the President has sworn to defend the constitution, he would remain faithful to that oath by working with the legislature in taking major decisions on the future of Nigeria’s federal system.”
Mr. Garba, however, noted that, while Nigerians are free to express themselves, they should exercise such liberty with restraint and a sense of responsibility.
He said calling President Buhari an enemy of Nigeria is in extreme bad taste, adding that nothing in Mr. Buhari’s service record would justify such scurrilous language.
“The country’s parliament is ready and willing to discuss all issues but the pundits are more interested in TV and newspaper headlines. Threats don’t work in a democracy. Democracy requires planning and proper process. Issues are resolved through established processes, not by abuses, insults or irresponsible statements”, he noted.
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