In the face of political, ethnic, and other social tensions that have often led to hate speeches on air, the mainstream and social media, the All Progressives Congress-led administration of President Muhammadu Buhari has initiated a bi-partisan dialogue intended to douse tensions.
Other political observers are hinting that it might be the last play at diplomacy before a full-pronged onslaught on opposing forces of all shades, but there appears to be no concrete evidence of this.
On social media especially, contending forces continue to lash out at themselves with the regurgitation of hate speeches and photos that preceded the tension-soaked 2015 elections to prove that the seeds sown then are being reaped now.
One commentator said: “The wind was sown then, we are now reaping the whirlwind.”
Nevertheless, ailing President Buhari appears ready to take the bull of divisiveness by the horns, if media reports, especially by the News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) is anything to go by.
The report reads:
It was the first bipartisan meeting ever presided over by Buhari.
President Buhari thanked the leaders for attending the meeting. He also thanked those who prayed for his recovery while in the U.K. for medical treatment.
Here is the President’s short speech:
I thank you sincerely, collectively and individually for finding time from your busy schedules to come all the way to Abuja and welcome me back home.
This visit signifies the unity of Nigeria. It is not a party occasion. It is not a political gathering. It is a symbol of our National unity. It is also an expression of the maturity of our democracy.
Multi-party democracy is a very tried and tested form of government. Opposition does not mean hostility, enmity or antagonism. Democracy needs opposition, one which is vibrant but responsible.
I am very pleased to see you assembled here all shades of opinion in Nigeria. Please convey to our countrymen and women in your respective states my deep gratitude to all those who prayed for my recovery. I am imploring all Nigerians to continue praying for peace and prosperity in Nigeria.
Earlier, the National Chairman, Caretaker Committee, PDP, Sen. Ahmed Makarfi, said that his party believed that opposition was no madness and would therefore, never wish ill of anybody, let alone the president.
He said that the president was saddled with the responsibility of leading the country, and deserved everyone’s prayer and support.
According to him, PDP is poised to play the role of responsible opposition party energetically, vibrantly, but very decently and with all sense of responsibility.
“This, we shall do by giving you a good run for your money and constantly keeping you on your toes as we all strive to make this country better.
“We assure you of our cooperation as much as the opposition can possibly give to enable you give your best in the process of navigating the ship of our state to a better tomorrow.
“We are glad to note that already the legislators of our party are cooperating with those of the majority party in both arms of the National Assembly to ensure a smooth legislative sail for the system.
“We are also proud of the contributions of our governors to the deliberations and other activities of both the National Council of State and the National Economic Council,’’ he said.
Makarfi reiterated the offer and assurances of PDP’s cooperation with the government on any programme sincerely designed to take Nigeria to higher levels.
He stated that the party would continue to identify with and support the fight against terrorism as well as other crimes like kidnapping and banditry and farmers/herdsmen clashes.
“We also offer our support for the fight against corruption and appeal that the institutions saddled with this onerous task be given the necessary encouragement and independence to do the right thing.
“This will help in further strengthening our institutions and insulating them from undue political interferences. It will also help to give them a more credible outlook in the eyes of the public.
“There is no way we can have a respectable voice in the comity of civilized nations until we rebuild our institutions and imbue them with the necessary independence and confidence.
“This will improve both their visage and standing with the citizenry,’’ he added.
Makarfi, however, challenged the government to lead the change in strengthening the institutions, “especially in exhibiting greater respect to judicial pronouncements as well as respecting the fundamental rights of all Nigerians’’.
He assured that the PDP as “a great believer in the unity of the country’’ would also partner the government in any way that would strengthen the nation’s historic bond.
On his part, National Chairman of APC, Mr John Odigie-Oyegun, described the meeting as a welcomed development, and assured that the party would continue to promote harmonious political environment in the country.
Additional reports by www.nan.ng