Malam Shehu Garba

Presidency cautions opinion leaders against ‘irresponsible statements’

The Presidency  has advised opinion leaders to exercise restraint in their choice of words to avoid heating up the polity and causing acrimony.

Defending the President’s speech, the Presidency said yesterday that it was a matter of great satisfaction that majority of the citizens welcomed the broadcast.

To criticise the President on restructuring,  the Presidency said, it is completely off the mark.

According to a statement by the Senior Special Assistant to the President Malam Garba Shehu, the President has no power to impose restructuring on the country  by military diktat.

The National Assembly members are the elected representatives of the people who can handle agitation for restructuring and other constitutional changes, he said.

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.

Shehu said: “Changes don’t happen on a whim in a democracy. The ‘immediate effect’ military mentality cannot work under a democratic order. 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.

Shehu 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 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,” Shehu said.

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