Senior Special Assistant to the President on Public Affairs, Dr. Doyin Okupe, on Wednesday lambasted a former Minister of the Federal Capital Territory, Mallam Nasir el-Rufai, and the Convener of Save Nigeria Group, Pastor Tunde Bakare, for their alleged consistent criticism of the administration of President Goodluck Jonathan.
Both el-Rufai and Bakare are leaders of the opposition Congress for Progressive Change.
While Bakare was recently quoted as saying that Jonathan was clueless, el-Rufai was quoted as asking Jonathan to resign if he had no solution to the violence being unleashed on some parts of the country by the violent Islamic sect, Boko Haram.
But while speaking with State House correspondents in Abuja, Okupe said insurgency was not limited to Nigeria and that no responsible citizen of other countries who had experienced such a situation would have called for their Presidents’ resignation.
The presidential spokesman who recently claimed that he was not hired as Jonathan’s “attack dog” accused the two CPC chieftains of politicising the issue to suit their purposes.
While the SNG said in its reaction on Wednesday that Okupe was merely speaking to justify his recent appointment, spokesman for el-Rufai, Muyiwa Adekeye, said his principal would issue a response on Thursday (today).
Okupe said, “El-Rufai is my younger brother. I have so much respect for him. But politics is more or less derailing or deranging him. Everybody knows that insurgency is a very difficult national problem. It is not anything peculiar to Nigeria. No responsible citizen of any of those countries affected by insurgency before called on their Presidents to resign.
“When he talks about intelligence, there is no better security in any country than by the people of the country. It is communal security that will help government and security agencies to root out insurgency. If people shielded insurgents, they make the works of security agencies more difficult.
“Can President Goodluck Jonathan be in Borno and everywhere at the same time? I believe that people just want to play politics. All what you are hearing is just the manipulation of the present situation to suit their political purposes.
“I am sure that my brother, el-Rufai is hopeful to be a presidential candidate of one of the parties very soon. What I will expect him to do with the level of intellect, intelligence and the resource that has been given to his own personal education is to come out with some reasonable plans, some suggestions, and not just criticising government for criticism’s sake.
“If el-Rufai were President of Nigeria, what would he do? He should say that. Or is he keeping that until when he becomes the President by which time the whole country would have been wiped off? When tragedy befalls a country, responsible men and women of that country forget partisanship and rally round their nation and they try their best to help existing government to tackle that. Once that is over, they go back to politics. This is not time for politics.
“Every man or woman who politicises this issue of Boko Haram, people should disregard and discard whatever information they hear from them. They are not serious-minded people.
“Pastor Bakare also falls into that category. It is shameful. You cannot convert the pulpit to a podium. If you want to be a politician, please come out.
“Pastor Bakare came into politics a few years ago and he became a vice presidential candidate of a major political party, some of us have been in politics for 30 years and we did not even become a governor and we did not say the country must come down, that is unfair. It is unacceptable.”
He alleged that the pastor had before now passed scathing remarks on respected Christian leaders like Bishop David Oyedepo and Pastor Enoch Adeboye and that he sometimes exhibits “unusual traces of deep-seated hatred quite uncommon with Christian leadership of his status.”
He said the most pathetic was that since the Buhari/Bakare ticket failed “as expected,” the pastor’s obsession or hate-backed capacity to disparage and insult Jonathan had been “limitless and boundless.”
Okupe said, “There is no doubt that Pastor Bakare has crossed the line of decency and civility in his unrelenting attacks on President Jonathan.
“I will seriously advise our respected pastor to drop his jaundiced views and look deeply at the steady progress that Nigeria is making in infrastructure, agriculture, water resources, and health amongst others, in a matter of 12 months in office.
“As for insecurity brought about by the advent of Boko Haram, Pastor Bakare is just playing to the gallery and being uncharacteristically insincere and dishonest.”
While admitting that Nigeria is not where it ought to be today, Okupe said the situation could not be blamed on Jonathan who had only served as President for 14 months.
Okupe added, “What is shameful is the armchair critics like our pastor who at moments of several national distress and tragedy will prefer to play the ‘ostrich’ rather than rally round a legitimate government exploiting all avenues to save the precious lives of the citizens and stop the carnage in the land.
“I wish to advise that if Pastor Bakare will be fair, he should come out properly to political arena and stop using God’s pulpit to throw stones at God’s elect as no leader will emerge in any praying nation like Nigeria without the blessing of God.”
The Publicity Secretary of the SNG, Mr. Yinka Odumakin, in a telephone interview with one of our correspondents on Wednesday, said the Presidential aide had tried to downplay critical national issues that Bakare had raised in his comments on the country.
He said, “Okupe has barked his way to the villa as unpaid attack dog for Jonathan against SNG and Pastor Bakare. Now that he is hired, he probably needs to keep doing what got him the dirty job.
“The issues being raised against Jonathan are public interest issues. Okupe should leave the more cerebral (Reuben) Abati to engage the issues raised, while he use his tongue to justify his pay on other mundane issues that a supposed medical doctor, hustling for media job can handle.”