The Presidency has lambasted a former Minister of Education, Oby Ezekwesili, for accusing President Muhammadu Buhari of being a sectional leader.
The Presidency further stated that the Indigenous People of Biafra was deliberately provoking soldiers to commit acts of violence in order to draw sympathy from the international community.
The Senior Special Assistant to the President on Media and Publicity, Garba Shehu, said this in a statement on Thursday.
Shehu said, “While the military are taking all precautions to observe the rules of engagement, there is a deliberate sinister agenda by IPOB to provoke the soldiers into killing innocent people in retaliation so that Nnamdi Kanu would use the pictures of the victims for international propaganda by accusing the government of ethnic cleansing against the Igbo with the sole purpose of gaining sympathy.”
Ezekwesili, who is a Co-convener of the #BringBackOurGirls group, had on Wednesday advised Buhari to rise above sectionalism and evacuate the soldiers deployed in the South-East as part of Operation Python Dance 2.
However, Shehu asked the former minister to stop being petty.
The statement read in part, “The Presidency has advised the Co-convener of the #BringBackOurGirls group, Mrs. Oby Ezekwesili, to demonstrate a great sense of responsibility in the face of national security challenges posed by the IPOB incendiary propaganda designed to cause civil unrest in the country.
“A prominent influencer like Mrs. Ezekwesili has a moral and patriotic duty not to give ammunition to any violent group that seems determined to pursue its separatist agitation through reckless and destructive methods.”
According to Shehu, Ezekwesili failed to condemn IPOB and its leader, Nnamdi Kanu, who, he said, had been promoting violence for several months.
The President’s spokesman said since the former minister was very active on social media, she should have been using her energy to condemn the IPOB leader but she chose to look the other way.
The statement added, “While it is convenient for the civil society activist to condemn the military and the government of President Buhari, Mrs. Ekekwesili didn’t find it appropriate, even once, to criticise the dangerous and violent propaganda being propagated by the IPOB leader, Nnamdi Kanu. Oby, as they call her, tweets on everything. Why was she silent on this one?
“The attacks on soldiers and policemen by IPOB supporters were most irresponsible, indefensible and reckless and nobody in her position should elevate mobs to the status of rock stars for the sake of playing to the gallery.”
The President’s spokesman wondered why Ezekwesili “retreated to the background or lost her voice while IPOB supporters were violently molesting, harassing, attacking and jeopardising the lives of indigenes and non-indigenes.”
He challenged the former minister to explain to Nigerians where the constitution of Nigeria, and international human rights law, support the killing and molestation of innocent people in the name of advocacy for self-determination.
Shehu said Ezekwesili’s “hypocritical and timid silence while Kanu’s IPOB supporters were engaged in lawlessness and recklessness in violation of his bail conditions is a burden on her credibility as a national crusader who should be courageous to condemn criminality. This art of using a raincoat while taking a bath is nothing short of self deceit.”
The presidential spokesman reminded the ex-minister that if the Buhari administration could take tough action against the extremist religious groups in the northern parts of the country to preserve national security, it was ridiculous to accuse the President of sending soldiers to the South-East because he hates the Igbo.
Shehu rubbished reports that the Buhari administration was marginalizing the Igbo.
He noted that the two most important economic entities in the country- the Ministry of Petroleum Resources) and the Central Bank of Nigeria – were being run by Igbo, Ibe Kachikwu and Godwin Emefiele, respectively.
Shehu added, “A President, who has put the nation’s cash cows, the Central Bank and the Ministry of Petroleum, in the hands of the Igbo; who has given four out of five states in the sub-region senior cabinet posts in his administration, including Foreign Affairs; and Industry, Trade and Investment, and is constructing the Second Niger Bridge after years of deceit and false starts, cannot be called a hater of the Igbo.”