The presidency has called on those clamouring for restructuring to exercise restraint in their choice of words, advising that issues are resolved through “established processes, not by abuses, insults or irresponsible statements”.
The Senior Special Assistant to the President on Media and Publicity, Mr Garba Shehu, gave the advice in a statement in Abuja on Wednesday.
Shehu was reacting to opinions expressed by Nigerians for and against President Muhammadu Buhari’s speech on Monday on his return from a medical vacation.
He said, “Threats don’t work in a democracy. Democracy requires planning and proper process; issues are resolved through established processes, not by abuses, insults or irresponsible statements.”
He said that the call became imperative to avoid heating up the polity and causing acrimony across the country.
He observed that majority of the citizens welcomed the broadcast and condemned those criticising the president for not responding to calls for a restructuring of the country.
Shehu said that the president had no power to impose restructuring on the country by military dictate.
The presidential aide explained that the National Assembly members were the elected representatives of the people who could handle agitations for restructuring and other constitutional changes.
According to him, the president is constitutionally bound to work with the national assembly to deal with such complex issues.
He reminded the critics that Buhari would not exercise arbitrary powers or bypass the legislature in taking such fundamental decisions.
He said, “Changes don’t happen on a whim in a democracy. The ‘immediate effect’ military mentality cannot work under a democratic order.
“Since the president has sworn to defend the Constitution, he will remain faithful to that oath by working with the legislature in taking major decisions on the future of Nigeria’s federal system.”
He, however, stated that “while Nigerians are free to express themselves, they should exercise such liberty with restraint and a sense of responsibility”.
He said calling the president an enemy of Nigeria “is in extreme bad taste,” adding that nothing in Buhari’s service record would justify such language.
“The country’s parliament is ready and willing to discuss all issues but the pundits are more interested in television and newspaper headlines,” he added.