The Federal Government yesterday fired back at those condemning President Goodluck Jonathan’s trip to Rio de Janeiro, Brazil for the United Nations’ Earth Summit, RIO+20, at a time the country was facing serious security crisis, saying the President can rule the country from any part of the world.
This is coming just as President Jonathan late Tuesday in Rio De Janeiro, Brazil warned Nigeria’s political class not to sacrifice the progress and well-being of the nation on the altar of personal political ambitions.
“One of the problems we have is that some Nigerians play politics with everything, but we cannot destroy our country because of personal political ambitions,” Jonathan said, adding that much of the incessant and often unjustifiable criticisms of his Administration were based on lies.
Briefing State House Correspondents alongside the Minister of Housing and Urban Development, Ms. Amma Pepple and Minister of State for Finance, Yerima Ngama after the Federal Executive Council meeting presided over by Vice President Namadi Sambo, Minister of information, Mr. Labaran Maku argued that President Jonathan’s decision to attend the UN Earth Summit and his absence from the country did not amount to negligent of duties.
Maku said, “The President can take decision from anywhere in the world. His absence will not hamper his power to act. The Vice President effectively takes charge of affairs once the president is out of Nigeria and he is in touch with the President on hourly basis. There is no vacuum; the most important thing is that the president and the vice president work harmoniously and are in constant touch.
“If the president panics, what will the people do? We must stop making politics out of the unfortunate incidence going on in Northern Nigeria. The world is now a virtual society. That the president is out of the country doesn't mean he cannot make decision on a matter. We should not play politics; he is in constant touch with this country on an hourly basis”.
Maintaining that the vice president of Nigeria effectively takes over the leadership whenever the president travels, the minister said, “We are running a democracy. There is no vacuum on ground because he has constitutional powers to act. On Tuesday, he (the Vice President) convened an emergency security meeting with Security Chiefs. If the President did not travel, the same people will condemn him for not doing so”.
Challenging the critics to come forward with practical solutions on how to tackle terrorism in the country, Maku warned against playing politics with the tragic situation in the north.
He said, “We should stop turning the tragedy in the Northern Nigeria to politics. We are not being invaded by foreigners but it is our people killing themselves. The president has provided every leadership on this matter. Let people make meaningful contribution to how to end this and not to play cheap politics and engage in political blackmail. For those turning this to politics, they should re-examine their level of patriotism to this country.
“The president has provided every leadership under the current situation. Serious citizens should come out with good suggestions. It appears to me that it has been turned into a political platform. Nigerians should be more circumspect under the current situation where citizens are killing people for no reasons. People have left the terrorists aside and are criticizing the President. The debate has not shown solidarity with the President. What is required at this time is cooperation with the president. He is on a working visit to Brazil and not on a holiday”, Maku added.