Govt critics: You're like motor park touts – Jonathan blasts Obasanjo, other statesmen
President Goodluck Jonathan lost his cool yesterday while hosting the Northern Elders Council (NEC) in Abuja when he indirectly replied former President Olusegun Obasanjo over his criticisms of the government.
He said any elder statesman who uses his position to fan the embers of disunity, set the country ablaze with utterances including telling lies to discredit his administration can best be described as a motor park tout.
Jonathan, who was pained by a media report claiming most of the projects awarded by his government were skewed towards the South-south while the North-east had a very tiny portion, said he has directed all his ministers to fault the report with facts.
The President said he was particularly saddened that the youths were today seeing Nigeria as being divided along ethnic and religious lines because of the utterances of politicians.
He also regretted that he is portrayed as hating the North even when his administration has done a lot to improve the region especially in the area education where out of the 12 federal universities, nine were established there. He cited the Almajiri education established to give the children of the poor from the North access to education.
On how utterances from elder statesmen can make or mar the country, Jonathan said: 'Some people call themselves statesmen, but they are not. They are just ordinary politicians. For you to be a statesman is not because you have occupied a big office before, but the question is, what are you bringing to bear? Are you building this country? Or are you a part of people who tell lies to destroy this country? Are you part of the people who create enmity and make people who ordinarily would have been living together to fight themselves? Are you planning to set the country ablaze because you did not get that particular thing you want?
'At the appropriate time Nigerians will know all of us even though I know most of you know us but the younger ones do not know. Some people are hiding under some clogs, some big names and creating a lot of problems in this country. Making provocative statements in this country, statements that will set this country ablaze and you tell me you are a senior citizen? You are not a senior citizen, you can never be, you are ordinary motor park tout.
'Because if you are a senior citizen you will act like one. It is not because of the offices we occupy is by divine grace and providence that some of us occupy these offices. But what role are you playing to build this country? So, let me not go too far, let me again join the Vice President in thanking you for the leadership you are showing and be rest assured you that we will continue to work and protect our people and make sure all Nigerians live in peace'.
President Jonathan commended the NEC for their efforts to ensure the country remains united, peaceful, noting that without unity, there can never be development.
He said: 'I feel sad that our younger ones are beginning to see a Nigeria as if we are so divided. A Nigeria that a Muslim and a Christian cannot sit down together. I was told that even the driver of Tafawa Balewa (the late Prime Minister) was a Christian. Our people lived together in those days why not now that we have even modern ways of life? Our children leave us and go abroad, they stay together and do a lot of things together. But when we come back home, we begin to build walls, this is a southerner, this is a northerner, this is a Muslim, this is a Christian, this is a Yoruba man, this is an Hausa man, this is an Ijaw man, this is a Nupe man. Is that the way we are going to develop our country?
'America is great today because America is made up of various cultural groups, everybody makes America because ethnic lines have been so weakened that people think about America. And that is why America is great today. Any country that begins to see themselves through their tiny tribal enclaves make cannot go anywhere.
On his perceived hatred for the North, the President said: 'Some people say Jonathan hates the North, I have heard that statement and I use to ask Namadi Sambo, they say I hate the North, but you are here. I asked the National Security Adviser (Col. Dasuki Sambo) and my Principal Secretary (Hassan Tukur) the same thing. In fact, my Principal Secretary has been my friend since I was deputy governor, I never knew I was going to come here as Vice President not to talk of President. But I have known him since I was the deputy governor of Bayelsa State. My Chief Detail, Yusuf from Borno State, has been with me since I was a deputy governor in Yenagoa and I see him as a good person and I have carried him along with me. So, I had to ask how can somebody wake up and say I hate the North?
Earlier, NEC Chairman, Tanko Yakasai, noted that Nigeria is passing through a critical time and that the country was created such that one region cannot do without the other.
He said Nigerians must continue to respect the principle to sustain democracy, adding that insulting, blackmailing and castigating others will not take the country anywhere.
Yakassai said: 'Mr. President, Nigeria is passing through political transformation and it is important to all Nigerians and indeed northerners to appreciate the fact that this country was crafted in such a manner that no one section can rule the country without support of the other. It was indeed the North, in its characteristics culture of fairness and equity that endorsed the principle of power shift which brought about the Presidency of Chief Olusegun Obasanjo and your humble self. It behoves on us as northerners and indeed all Nigerians to continue to respect the principles and sustainers of democracy in Nigeria.
'Northern Elders Council believes in peaceful co-existence and extension of hands of fellowship to brothers and sisters from the other side of the nation. It is unpatriotic for anybody to instigate people against any person or people because of a temporary gain. Politics of insult, blackmail and castigation of individuals shall not take this country anywhere. We therefore, believe in peaceful co-existence among Nigerians and by working together shall we move the country forward,' he said. - The Sun.