President Goodluck Jonathan replied his critics on Wednesday, lampooning those he called elderstatesmen making provocative comments capable of setting the country ablaze and describing them as motor park touts. But the president himself yesterday came under attack for using what some described as ” gutter language”.
A public analyst, Mr. Tola Balogun, criticised the president for resorting to such used of words which he described as unpresidential, saying President Jonathan is himself liable of the leaders he is criticising.
Former President Olusegun Obasanjo has at every turn attacked the Jonathan administration and only last week berated President Jonathan saying his regime had frittered away the foreign reserves.
General Ibarhim Babangida, the former military ruler, on his part said with what he was reading and hearing about corruption nowadays, his regime which many labelled as corrupt was a saint.
President Jonathan on Wednesday said any elder statesman that uses his position to fan the embers of disunity, to set the country ablaze with his utterances including telling of lies to discredit his administration could best be described as a ‘motor park tout.’
He made the statement at the Presidential Villa, Abuja, while hosting a delegation of Northern Elders Council (NEC).
Jonathan said: “Some people call themselves statesmen but they are not statesmen, they are just ordinary politicians. For you to be a statesman, it is not because you had occupied a big office, 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 wanted? 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 an 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 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 that we will continue to work and protect our people and make sure all Nigerians live in peace”.
President Jonathan commended the Northern Elders Council 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 Nigeria as if we are so divided. A Nigeria that a Muslim and a Christian cannot seat down together. I was told that even the driver of Tafawa Balewa 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 cannot go anywhere.
“If today I’m sick; if the best doctor that can treat me is from Zamfara or Enugu or Ekiti they will bring that doctor to treat me. They will not ask if that doctor is an Ijaw man, Ogbia or any other tribe. And until we get to that level where we begin to use people based on their competences, yes they must be spread in political appointment and so on. But until we get to that level where we don’t discriminate based on primordial privileges that of course will be the beginning of our development. And that is what we stand for. I will continue to plead with you because from all of your activities you have been advocating for that”.
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 the 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?