The Action Congress of Nigeria (ACN) has said its reaction to the
bribery allegation against President Goodluck Jonathan, over the
construction or ‘renovation’ of a church in his village, has nothing
to do with religious or ethnic considerations.
In a statement issued in Lagos on Sunday by its National Publicity
Secretary, Alhaji Lai Mohammed, the party said the issues involved are
those of ethics, constitutionality and the rule of law, saying anyone
or group that attempts to make it a religious or ethnic issue is doing
a great disservice to the nation.
It also urged religious leaders in particular and other opinion
leaders in general to always rise above politics and primordial
considerations in commenting on such issues.
”Sadly, since the bribery allegation came to the fore, we have seen
otherwise respectable religious leaders joined the fray and used
uncomplimentary words just to be seen to be defending the President.
We have seen how they attempted to use religion to divide
Nigerians. This is unfortunate and must never repeat itself.
”Like these unwary religious leaders, we have also read comments from
some ethnic jingoists making it look as if the criticisms of the
President’s solicitation and acceptance of a church ‘gift’ from a
foreign construction company doing business with the government he
heads is targeting the South-South or the Niger Delta.
”All these developments confirm what we have always known: That this
is President is the most divisive Nigerian leader ever, and he and his
‘supporters’ will not hesitate to play the religious or ethnic card
even when the issues involved have nothing to do with that. Any
criticism of his actions is immediately interpreted as an attack on
the Ijaw, the Niger Delta, the South-South or Christians. This is not
the stuff of good leadership,” ACN warned.
The party went on: ”The last time we checked, President Jonathan was
voted into office by people of all ethnic and religious groups. He is
not the President of the Niger Delta, neither is he the President of
Christians or Muslims, but the President of all Nigerians. He should
always remember this.”
It wondered where the religious leaders now rushing to the President’s
defence were when this same ACN campaigned rigorously
for him to be sworn in as Acting President, when his boss was ill and
he was marooned; or why they never came out to defend the late
President Umaru Yar’Adua when we criticized his administration’s policies.
”We will like to put it on record that our reaction to the issue was
based on published reports that the President himself admitted
and accepting the church gift. We maintain that this is an impeachable
offence and that the National Assembly should investigate it and take
the necessary action. Whether the National Assembly does so or not
will not mitigate the rightness of our stand,” ACN said.