Politicians’ statements stoke tensions in Nigeria

June 13, 2014 6:38 am


Nigerian president Goodluck Jonathan/FILE
Nigerian president Goodluck Jonathan/FILE
ABUJA, Jun 13 – Nigerian President Goodluck Jonathan on Thursday criticised the conduct and “unguarded utterances” of leading politicians as they were stoking tensions in the country ahead of key polls next year.

“Indeed the conduct and utterances of leading politicians at home and abroad are rapidly creating and spreading unnecessary tension in the country,” Jonathan said at a meeting with politicians and political parties.

“Such unguarded utterances on their part fester the embers of discord, bitterness and rancour… History will not judge us kindly if this country fails as a result of our actions and inactions.”

Jonathan urged political actors to rise to defend the nation’s existence which, according to him, was threatened by “anti-democratic forces”.

He did not identify those forces or give details of what had been said or done.

Attacks by Islamist militant group Boko Haram have increased in recent months, with the military apparently incapable of preventing the almost daily bloodshed exacerbated by the kidnapping of more than 200 schoolgirls in April.

The group has killed thousands during its battle against the government since 2009, but the conflict has received unprecedented global attention since the abduction of the schoolgirls.

Jonathan called for unity of the nation’s political class to fight insecurity, exemplified in the increasing wave of killings, bombings and the April 14 abduction of the schoolgirls in Chibok town in Borno state.

The meeting, he said, should reflect on the consequences politicians’ “actions, conducts and utterances in the recent past have had and will have on our polity and corporate existence”.

The country’s system, he warned, was not strong enough to withstand “all unguarded and careless political statements and actions”.

Former Nigerian dictator, General Muhammadu Buhari, now a leader of the main opposition All Progressives Congress, was among the politicians who attended the meeting.

Nigeria, Africa’s most populous nation, is scheduled to hold presidential elections in February, and Jonathan is widely believed to seek re-election.


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