The Federal Government on Tuesday admonished the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) to stop playing politics with national challenges.
The Minister of Information and Culture, Alhaji Lai Mohammed, gave the admonition at a media briefing he addressed in Abuja on topical national issues.
Mohammed specifically berated the PDP, saying the party was playing cheap politics with the issue of security during a media briefing the party addressed on Monday.
He said the party, at the briefing, had accused President Muhammadu Buhari and his government of running a ‘government of exclusion’.
The minister, however, said the party was playing the ostrich by refusing to face the “painful facts and unpleasant truth’’ on the efforts of the Federal Government in engaging relevant stakeholders and tackling security challenges headlong.
“The PDP accused this Federal Government of not engaging and of running a government of exclusion, forgetting, conveniently, that this Federal Government has consistently engaged Nigerians on topical national issues.
“The issues included security, the fight against corruption, terrorism, infrastructure and farmer-herder conflict.
“The Town Hall Meeting series, which we launched in 2016, has so far been held 18 times across Nigeria.
“It’s always a no-holds-barred opportunity for the government to engage with critical stakeholders, briefing them on government policies and programmes and getting their feedbacks, thus ensuring inclusion and deepening of democracy,’’ he said.
The minister said the suggestions reeled out by the opposition party as way out of the current challenges facing the nation were already contained in the outcome of the town hall meeting on national security held in Kaduna on April 8.
“Unfortunately, the recommendations by the PDP have exposed the opposition party’s gimmickry, and the fact that it was merely playing politics with serious national issues, especially security.
“Had it not been so, and had it done its homework properly, the PDP would have known that most of those same recommendations were already contained in the outcome of the town hall meeting,’’ he said.
The minister listed the 10-point recommendations from the town hall meeting which included an urgent need for political restructuring and not separation.
He said the meeting also recommended that governance should be based on law rather than the whims and caprices of human beings and must be obeyed as all persons are equal before the law.
Mohammed said it was also recommended at the meeting that the judiciary should be decentralised and reformed through constitutional amendment to remove the unitary control of the Supreme Court.
He said the meeting also recommended: “That governments at all levels should ensure free, qualitative and compulsory Primary Education for all children of school age.
“That the military, police and other security agencies should be expanded in number, retrained, provided with modern equipment and technology to cope with emerging security challenge.
“That both religious and traditional leaders should encourage and promote inter-marriages for unity as contained in the 1999 Constitution
“That the establishment of State Police should be supported by the National and State Houses of Assembly to enable State Governments have firm control in addressing security issues.”
Mohammed also said that it was recommended at the meeting that traditional rulers should be given their age-long role of maintaining peace and security within their domain.
He said stakeholders further agreed that local government autonomy should be actualised to enable local councils have control of their areas, including the ungoverned spaces in tackling security challenges.
The minister said the forum agreed that farmers-herders clashes should be addressed by establishment of ranches and grazing reserves with modern amenities.
“Conveniently, the PDP did not acknowledge this national engagement that featured panelists from academia and civil society,’’ he said.
Mohammed disclosed that the resolutions had been presented before the National Economic Council (NEC) for consideration and action.
He said NEC, as a prelude to adopting the recommendations, had directed all governors to engage in state-wide consultation on them and revert to the Council at its next meeting.
The minister admonished the opposition PDP to stop “fooling itself’’ by playing politics with issues of national security.