A democracy inclined non-governmental organization-HUMAN Rights WRITERS’ ASSOCIATION OF NIGERIA (HURIWA) is not happy with the confrontational stance of the Presidential Assistant on public Affairs Dr. Doyin Okupe against the hierarchy of the National Assembly.
The development focused civil society body has therefore asked President Goodluck Jonathan to caution his media and public affairs aides to stop engaging in unnecessary media war- fare with the legislative Arm of government as that would imperil the deepening of durable, vibrant and effective democracy and good governance in Nigeria and these confrontational postures will portray the country before the global community as a highly politically unstable polity and drive away willing foreign direct investments.
The Group said there are more decent way of going about the duties and functions of the offices of the media/public affairs assistants to the President without necessarily sounding highly ‘codescending, disrespectful to properly constituted authorities of other arms of government and still make relevant presentation of facts and figures to the decent members of the Nigerian general public.
”There is clearly a difference between war -time propaganda and professional media and public affairs’ management of the person and office of the high office of the President of the Federal Republic of Nigeria who in the first place was given the mandate by the members of the general public for a specified tenure in accordance with the tenets and principles of the constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria of 1999 as amended”, HURIWA affirmed.
In a statement issued jointly by the National Coordinator of the body Comrade Emmanuel Onwubiko and the National media officer Miss. Zainab Yusuf against the back drops of the recent umbrage thrown in the direction of the leadership of the National Assembly by the Presidential Public Affairs’ Senior Assistant Dr. Doyin Okupe accusing them of being unfair to President Jonathan, HURIWA tasked president Jonathan to free himself from what looks like a “hostage of make- belief” by his team of several spokespersons bent on Institutionalizing the practice of divide—and- rule between the three Arms of the federal government of Nigeria.
The Rights group also carpeted the Presidential aide for trying to undermine the constitutional powers of the National Assembly by making “Phantom allegations” that the hierarchy of the national legislature tried to rubbish the 2013 budget proposal presented by President Jonathan on Wednesday October 10th 2012 even when the contrary is the case with all the recorded evidence available before the discerning members of the Public.
President Jonathan had presented the proposal to a joint session of the National Assembly on Wednesday. At the budget presentation, Senate President, David Mark, had told President Jonathan that the National Assembly would not be a rubber-stamp legislature. Also, the Speaker of the House of Representatives, Mallam Aminu Tambuwal, had subtly accused the President of poor implementation of the 2012 budget.
But speaking in Abuja, the Special Assistant to the President on Public Communication, Dr. Doyin Okupe, said it was sad that President Jonathan could be subjected to what he described as a “harrowing experience” during the presentation.
“Normal legislative courtesy demands that such a visitor (President Jonathan) be allowed to perform his constitutional functions without any attempt to rubbish the document that was yet to be discussed even by the members themselves,” he said.
The presidential aide, who stressed that he was speaking for the Presidency, also said it was wrong for the lawmakers to have summoned the President in the manner they did recently.
“My belief is that in the interest of the Nigerian people, for the sake of our masses, the National Assembly and the Executive must of necessity find a common ground on all these issues, instead of unnecessary grandstanding and playing to the gallery, which will not help anybody”, he added.
But the Rights group faulted the criticism of the National Assembly’s leadership by Dr. Okupe and asserted that from the abundance of evidence as clearly shown to all Nigerians on television, President Jonathan displayed a generous body language of a man who was immensely pleased with the conduct of the leadership of the National Assembly and wondered where the presidential aide got his ‘bogus’ idea that the National Assembly sought to rubbish the presentation of the 2013 budget.
HURIWA stated thus; “We sincerely wish that President Jonathan would call his media and Public affairs team to order and instruct them to go about their jobs with decorum and avoid presenting a picture of a presidency that is seeking to be transformed into an Emperor”.
HURIWA reminded the Presidency that the extant grund norm governing Nigeria has specifically empowered the legislators to jelously guide their constitutional independence and the principle of separation of powers so as to sustainably pilot the enthronement of lasting and strong democracy that would become the pride of the Black race around the World.
”Section 4(1) (2) of the constitution duly recognized the National Assembly as the body to make laws for the peace, order and good government of the federation including the thorough, professional, efficient, and comprehensive vetting of proposed appropriation legislations before it becomes an Act of parliament for the running of Nigeria”, HURIWA further asserted.
The group further advised President Jonathan thus; “President Jonathan has shown remarkable willingness to work for the strict adherence of all democratic tenets including the principle of separation of powers, the President must call his media and public affairs team to order to stop behaving as if the presidency is at war with the other two Arms of government through the release of inflammatory and provocative media statements targeted at tarnishing the public image of the leadership of the National Assembly”.