The Action Congress of Nigeria (ACN) has risen in defence of Governor of Rivers State, Chibuike Amaechi, who was reportedly barred by Presidential Bodyguards from greeting President Goodluck Jonathan at a dinner in the Presidential Villa in Abuja on Wednesday.
The party has tasked the President to immediately order a probe into the matter which it described as shocking.
In a statement issued in Lagos on Thursday by its National Publicity Secretary, Lai Mohammed, the party said the President should ensure that whoever was behind such a condescending treatment of a State Governor is properly sanctioned to serve as deterrent.
”We are making this call because we do not believe that, in spite of the reported frosty relations between the two, President Jonathan – as the father of the nation – will lend the weight of his high office to such a demeaning action as exhibited by the presidential security personnel.
”To believe that anyone occupying the esteemed office of the President of one of Africa’s most important nations will be a party to a situation in which any security aide will wilfully fence a state chief executive from paying his respects to the President at such an open gathering will be to think the worst of the occupier of that office. That is why we have chosen not to believe that this indeed occurred, and why we are calling on Mr. President to tell Nigerians that ‘it ain’t so’.
”We shudder to think of what efforts are being made – including the use of national institutions – to undermine Gov. Amaechi if the treatment reportedly meted out to him at the dinner has the approval of the powers that be. We are even more worried at what will happen to a governor from the opposition who falls out of favour with the President, if a governor from the same party as the President can be so publicly humiliated,” it said
According to the ACN, “It is particularly incumbent on the President to clarify the report because Gov. Amaechi, the authentic Chairman of the Nigerian Governors’ Forum,NGF, extended an Olive Branch to President Jonathan by attending the dinner along with the other governors who voted him into the NGF chairmanship, despite the fact that the President is publicly supporting the losing faction of the NGF, in what is being seen as a democratic Faux pas.
The party said the President must learn to separate politics from governance by rising above petty partisanship as he steers the affairs of the state. “At this point, we have no choice than to draw attention to the recent speech by the Speaker of the House of Representatives, Hon, Aminu Tambuwal, to welcome back the honourable members from their short break.
The Speaker had stated that, “I am strongly persuaded to state once again that from the little that we know, there is dichotomy between politics and governance; thus, there is a difference between a candidate in electoral contest on the platform of a political party and an elected official who has assumed a non-partisan responsibility and taken oath to protect and preserve the constitution, to serve the people and the nation.
“Needless to say that generally, whenever partisan interests conflict with national interest, it is partisan interests that must be sacrificed in the preservation of the national interest. The oath we took is that of constitutionalism and national service and not of suffocating partisanship.”
ACN further urged all political office holders, irrespective of their party affiliation, to eschew the kind of pervasive and petty partisanship that led to the reported disrespect shown to an elected State Governor by a security agent being paid with taxpayers’ money.