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APC's directive to its parliamentarians - National Mirror

By The Citizen
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Recently, the national leadership of the All Progressives Congress (APC), took steps it believed would checkmate the festering, yet consciously scripted political crisis in Rivers State, in particular; and other parts of the country in general. The party specifically directed its members in the National Assembly to discountenance all executive bills, including the 2014 Appropriation Bill that is long overdue for debate until President Goodluck Jonathan restores law and order in Rivers State.

In response, the Presidency upbraided the APC, stressing that its directive to opposition lawmakers was a direct invitation to anarchy and a vindication of its earlier position that the party was out to scuttle democracy and national unity. The APC, however, insisted it did the right thing. The party said its directive was people-oriented, democratic and aimed at saving Nigeria from sliding into anarchy. The party said the directive has already succeeded in dousing the tension in Rivers State, 'where those who have been subjected to ceaseless harassment by hoodlums, aided and abetted by the police, can now stage their rallies in peace''. The APC believes its directive will ultimately be in the interest of not only all Nigerians, but national institutions as well, including the National Assembly itself.

Notwithstanding intense pressure by the opposition and other critics on Jonathan to redeploy the Rivers State Commissioner of Police, Joseph Mbu, accused of being a crony of Dame Patience, his wife, whose interest in the Rivers crisis is not hidden, the Presidency appeared complacent on the issue. Unconfirmed reports, however, said Mbu was reluctantly redeployed lately, apparently in deference to the APC directive.

Of interest, however, is the fact that opposition political parties in the country other than the APC, including the All Progressives Grand Alliance (APGA), Labour Party, etc., have, in strong terms, condemned the APC order as unpatriotic, dubious, self-serving and, indeed, a recipe for anarchy. A member of the House of Representatives' Public Accounts Committee, Mr. Linus Okorie, for example, described the directive as 'anti-people and diabolical'.

But from whatever perspective it is viewed, cognizance should be taken of the fact that political rascality, recklessness and impunity, as well as politically motivated disorder in the country have become unacceptable. The situation in Rivers State, for instance, has been a huge national embarrassment, an eyesore, courtesy of the police and other law enforcement agencies' less than noble roles in the entire saga. Yet politicians and political parties deliberately worsen the situation by their dishonest interventions and unguarded utterances. The 1999 Constitution (as amended) made provisions for the freedom of association and expression, which we insist must be jealously protected by the appropriate authorities. The exercise of the said rights also goes with a high sense of responsibility and obligations.

The directive by the APC leadership might have been necessitated by a number of wrongs by the ruling Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), President Jonathan or his wife, that needed to be remedied. But that is not enough for the main opposition party, perhaps basking on its new-found strength, to attempt to shut down Jonathan's government. Politicians in the country have failed woefully in the way and manner they have been allowing history to repeat itself. They ignore the consequences of past circumstances that derailed the nation's march to democracy and development. The political elite are again courting anarchy, the end of which is unpredictable. The drift should be halted now before it is too late.

No matter how provoked, the directive by the APC leadership to its members in the National Assembly to block all executive bills, including the 2014 Appropriation Bill, is not in the interest of Nigerians. It is an unpatriotic order that demonises the game of politics. The directive will foist confusion and induce dire consequences on the nation if strictly obeyed. It is an ill-advised recourse to self-help, especially for a party seeking to wrest power from the PDP, purportedly to save the nation and Nigerians from further ruination.

The Presidency should move swiftly and restore peace and decency in Rivers State politics, in particular, and other parts of the country its meddlesomeness has become intolerable. And for the APC, it should desist from giving the ruling party measures it would not tolerate were it to be in power.