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Troops Deployment To Lagos, A Most Egregious Misstep By GEJ - ACN

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ABUJA, January 16, (THEWILL) - The Action Congress of Nigeria (ACN) has strongly condemned the deployment of armed troops to the streets of Lagos, describing it as one of the most egregious and anti-democratic actions taken by President Goodluck Jonathan since assuming office.

In a statement issued in Lagos on Monday by its National Publicity Secretary, Alhaji Lai Mohammed, the party said the President even outdid the brutal military dictators of the past by using the military as an instrument to suppress a peaceful protest by unarmed citizens.

''Whoever advised the President to take this path has done him a great disservice and ruined his democratic credentials, if ever he had any.

Sending soldiers armed with assault rifles and backed by armoured tanks to intimidate and harass unarmed civilians has now exposed President Jonathan as a closet dictator,'' it said.

ACN said that the action also shows that President Jonathan has lost touch with the same people whose support he earnestly sought when he was campaigning, and the same people who voted him into office only a few months back.

''Mr. President, as we said in our earlier intervention on this issue, the protests in Lagos these past few days have set a new standard in how the citizenry can engage in non-violent protest. It was so well organized and peaceful that people even came with their families, including young children, ethnicity, religion and other divisive tendencies were jettisoned in an unprecedented show of unity, while music was used effectively to reduce tension and create a carnival-like atmosphere.

''Even the policemen who daily shadowed the Gani Fawehinmi Park did not need to fire a single canister of teargas because there was no violence. This is the setting that the President, too alienated too soon from the people who elected him into office, decided to send battle-ready soldiers into. If the President was angered into taking a wrong action by the verbal jabs thrown at him by speakers at the park, then he needs a lesson in democratic governance.

''We condemn the tactless and unnecessary show of force in Lagos, and will like to remind Mr. President that it is only a government that has run out of ideas on how to engage its people on issues, no matter how vexing, that will resort to the use of force to suppress them. A government that claims to exercise sovereignty on behalf of the people cannot treat the same people as enemies to be shooed off streets and parks by fierce-looking soldiers,'' the party said.

It called on President Jonathan to immediately withdraw the soldiers, hoping that by beating a quick retreat, he can mitigate the impact of the damage which his action has done to the psyche of the good people of Lagos, and the dent it has put on the nation's democracy under his

ACN said while the President and his advisers may be engaging in self-congratulations for using force to silence the peaceful Nigerians in Lagos, what they have achieved is nothing but a pyrrhic victory.

''Part of the reasons the issue of fuel subsidy spiraled out of hand was because the governed no longer have trust and confidence in those governing them. It remains to be seen how an unyielding federal government and the occupation of Lagos by the military, on the orders

of elected President Jonathan, will restore that much-needed trust and confidence,'' the party said.