PUNCH – The Presidency on Tuesday took a swipe at the leaders of the All Progressives Congress, saying they had resorted to propaganda, blackmail and deception because their imminent loss in the forthcoming general elections was staring them in the face.
The Special Adviser to the President, Dr. Reuben Abati, said this in an exclusive interview with The PUNCH in Abuja. Abati was reacting to the statements credited to the APC that President Goodluck Jonathan was planning another poll shift, making moves to sack the Chairman of the Independent National Electoral Commission, Attahiru Jega and taking steps to freeze the accounts of some of its leaders.
The presidential spokesman described all the allegations as baseless, false and meaningless. He said the opposition party decided to heighten its level of hideous propaganda because of the “sudden disappearance” of its presidential candidate, Maj. Gen. Muhammadu Buhari (retd.). Abati argued that out of desperation, the APC leaders needed to occupy the media space without considering their shallow tactics.
He said that was why when the opposition leaders speak, people would notice so much incoherence and noise. On another round of poll shift, Abati said, “Anybody who has been listening to news will see that the President has consistently said he does not see any reason why the polls will be shifted again.
“He has consistently assured the international community that government has no intention whatsoever to shift the polls because the date of the inauguration of a new government is May 29 and that that day is sacrosanct.
“Whatever postponement that has taken place is within the frame of the law and it is constitutional. The law gives a timeframe to hold elections.” On the plot to remove Jega, the presidential spokesman said Jonathan had made it clear that the INEC boss had not committed any offence that could warrant his sack. He expressed the hope that with the love the opposition leaders were displaying for Jega, they would be able to come out at the end of the election and accept the outcome.
Abati said, “The President himself has addressed this categorically that he has never at any time discussed the issue with anybody that he wants to sack Jega.
“He said before you can remove anybody, you have to first establish that the person has committed an offence and that there is nothing before him to indicate that Jega has committed any offence.
“The APC, because its key spokespersons seem to have talent for noise making, keep insisting that there are plans to remove Jega. The question to be asked is if there is something they know that we do not know. Is there something between them and Jega that they are so desperate?
“What it means is that at the end of the day, we do not expect that the APC will turn around and say they have no faith in the outcome of the election or that Jega did not conduct the election very well. “The way they are packaging Jega, you will think he is even a member of their party. I hope that when eventually they lose the election, they will be honest enough to accept the outcome.”
Abati said there was no sense in the claims that Jonathan was planning to freeze the accounts of a former Lagos State Governor, Asiwaju Bola Tinubu and Governor Rotimi Amaechi of Rivers State. He explained that no individual, no matter how highly placed, had the right to freeze anybody’s accounts. The presidential spokesman said, “That allegation is a no brainer because people like making unintelligent comments as if they never went to school.
“The President cannot just stand up and say he is freezing somebody’s account. “When people’s accounts are frozen, it is because may be they have been indicted and a court of law has given an order to that effect. “No one individual, no matter how powerful he is, can just wake up and say he is freezing somebody’s account. “I am surprised that anybody will take them serious on this. If they keep saying it despite the emptiness of the claim, then it again proves the point of their desperation.”