The Presidency has described President Goodluck Jonathan as the most “unjustifiably maligned leader” in the country’s history.
The Senior Special Assistant to the President on Public Affairs, Dr. Doyin Okupe, stated this in a statement on Thursday.
Okupe was responding to a lecture delivered by the Action Congress of Nigeria’s leader, Asiwaju Bola Tinubu, in London.
He said, “It is trite to observe that President Jonathan is perhaps the most unjustifiably maligned leader in the history of Nigeria with critics using their overriding influence on print and electronic media freely and in many cases unfairly to take potshots at him.
“It is common knowledge that no administration has been abused, lied against and harangued like the present administration under Jonathan.”
According to him, in spite of the abuse, the Jonathan administration has not carried out any reprisal against its critics.
Okupe stated, “It is on record that despite the avalanche of criticisms and attacks in the media, journalists and their organisations have not been hounded or closed down as we witnessed in recent past.”
He noted that rather than muzzle free speech, the administration had always explored the legal option in seeking redress.
According to him, the signing into law of the Freedom of Information Bill, after previous administrations attempted to stall it, was a pointer to the democratic character of the present administration.
He said unlike the various ACN governments, Jonathan administration had bowed to the wishes of Nigerians when they disagreed with certain Federal Government policies.
Okupe cited the reversal of the removal of subsidy on petroleum products; amnesty offer to terrorists and the decision to shelve the introduction of the N5,000 note as some examples of the President’s magnanimity.
On the electoral system, he said Nigerians and the international community had attested to a return of sanity in the process.
This, he said, was because of reforms implemented by the Jonathan administration.
He added that no administration, since independence, had done more to address the social security problems in the country than the Jonathan leadership.
Criticising the ACN, Okupe said the party was not only undemocratic but autocratic.
He said, “For followers, local and international of Nigeria’s democratic journey since 1999, there is unanimity of opinion that no administration has equalled the Jonathan administration in the observance of and respect for the hallowed principles of maintenance of rule of law, free press, sanctity of the electoral process, separation of powers and respect for public opinion.
“President Goodluck Jonathan’s opening up of the democratic space through institutional reforms clearly marks him out as a committed democrat.”