HURIWA to Presidency: Be tolerant of divergent opinions

Posted by News Express | 3 December 2019 | 1,053 times

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•HURIWA National Coordinator, Comrade Emmanuel Onwubiko

Frontline civil rights advocacy group, Human Rights Writers Association of Nigeria (HURIWA), has tasked President Muhammadu Buhari to listen carefully to the patriotic and sound counsel made to his government on a platter of gold by Nigeria’s erstwhile Chief of Defence Staff, General Alexander Ogomudia (rtd), concerning the need for a constructive implementation of reform measures to restructure the Nigerian state.

HURIWA said the government at the centre should be grateful to such open-minded and courageous former top flight military and security officers for speaking out and contributing to constructive debates rather than take him on as if it has become a crime for retired military chiefs to express their opinions within the bounds of the law.

“For distinguishing himself as a charismatic patriot and speaking out his mind with the best of intentions, it is immoral and disrespectful for the Media official of President to condemn the exercise of the right to freedom of expression by the erstwhile military General.

“There are many others who retired as top Generals that have gone into their shells and are not concerned about engaging in constructive national debate for nation-building purposes but are simply watching developments from one side of their eyes whilst within themselves they nurse bottled up angst over the deteriorating state of insecurity in Nigeria. Government should appreciate those who take out their time to speak out,” HURIWA said in a statement issued on Monday in Abuja.

HURIWA in the statement signed by the National Coordinator, Comrade Emmanuel Onwubiko, also asked the President to direct his media aides to show respect to the erstwhile Chief of Defence Staff in both his military career which culminated in him becoming a top ranking Service Chief without blemish. The rights group stated that leaders in any constitutional democracy all around the world achieve more objectives for the overall good of the people by doing a lot of listening and taking into account what is good and useful rather than to constantly become cantankerous and intolerant of divergent opinions coming from the citizenry.

“We take strong exception to the persistent bellicose responses emanating from the desk of the media team of Mr. President, an office that is sustained by the public and at public costs. The Nigerian constitution in several relevant sections which we will cite below clearly stated that President Buhari holds his high office in trust for the good people of Nigeria who are the real owners of the sovereignty of Nigeria.

“The (constitution) clearly stated that those in government must by all means encourage the participation of the people in the running of government. It is therefore unacceptable that the media office of Mr. President has become the unethical attack-dog of the holder of the highest office in the land. Mr President is the father of the nation for the remaining period he would spend in this last term in office and must not operate under any mindset of a regional overlord of his geopolitical region or birth nor is he to assume the ignominious role of a religious bigot. Nigerian President must at all times be the statesman that the voters voted him to be.

“The near anarchic responses constantly oozing out from the media desk of the current presidency in Abuja Nigeria always attacking persons with a difference of positions on certain national issues is totally antithetical to constitutional democracy which thrives on exercise of the freedoms of expression; free speech and must encourage and stimulate the people to participate actively in the governance of the nation state,” HURIWA said.

It reminded President Buhari that there was no crime in what the former Service Chief has said regarding restructuring because section 39 states that every person shall be entitled to freedom of expression, including freedom to hold opinions and to receive and impart ideas and information without interference.

HURIWA said also that it is not incorrect that there is no a general breakdown of law and order even as insecurity of lives and property of Nigerians has been severely compromised by the inability of the law enforcement agencies to check the growing spate of kidnappings and violent attacks by armed bandits.

Source: News Express

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