The Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) has described as unacceptable the Monday’s directive by the President-elect, Gen. Muhammadu Buhari to bar a television house, the AIT, from covering his activities, saying the suppression of the media under any guise portends danger for the nation’s democracy.
PDP National Publicity Secretary, Olisa Metuh in a statement on Tuesday said that after carefully studying the defence posited by General Buhari’s campaign spokesperson as well as the smokescreen statement by the APC to cover and mitigate his anti-media posture, the PDP and indeed all lovers of democracy are persuaded that the action was not only unjustifiable, but also unconstitutional and completely against the spirit of liberty and the rule of law in a democracy.
He said “the PDP as a party that have nurtured the nation’s democracy in the past 16 years cannot afford to fold its hands and watch the constitutional rights, media freedom and personal liberty of Nigerians, the basic tenets of democracy being demolished.
“We ask, is this a beginning of the feared erosion of the freedom and personal liberty the media and Nigerian citizens have been enjoying in the last 16 years under the PDP led-administration? Has our dear nation finally fallen into the clutches of totalitarianism and impunity where government actions will based on egocentric decisions and impulses of individuals rather than the rule of law?
“While we assure the President-elect of our resolve to run a mature and responsible opposition based on issues, we are disturbed by this emerging development and reassure the Nigerian people that we will continue to stand with them on issues of democracy and freedom at all times.
“Perhaps, we need to remind General Buhari that part of the challenge of his new position, even as President-elect is that he has lost his private life which is now subject to public scrutiny and media interrogation, as required of the custodian of the mandate of the Nigerian people.
“The PDP is not oblivious of the background of the President-elect especially as it relates to the freedom of the media, but we had thought that having declared to be a converted democrat, he would make himself amenable to the basic principles of democracy by following the due process of the law on any circumstance.
“General Buhari may also wish to be reminded that the Nigerian constitution upon which provisions he emerged President-elect, also gave the media powers to cover activities of public office holders while at the same time providing legal avenues for redress in the event of any violation. If the right of the President-elect was in anyway violated by the AIT or any media house for that matter, he is expected to act within the law and seek redress in the courts otherwise one would have no option than to conclude that he is out for personal vendetta.
“The APC and the President-elect may have one or two lessons to pick from President Goodluck Jonathan, who though the most maligned and abused President in the history of our nation, even by the APC, allowed his actions to be sufficiently guided by humility, tolerance and the rule of law”, the PDP said.
The party called on Nigerians not to despair but remain steadfast and unite in resisting any anti-democratic tendencies intended to instill fear in them and set the stage for a dictatorial order and the erosion of their personal freedom and liberty as citizens, which they have been enjoying in the last 16 years under the PDP.
The AIT news crew was reportedly banned from covering activities of Buhari on Monday in Abuja based on alleged ethical issues.