Garba Shehu, senior special assistant to the president on media and publicity, has advised those criticising President Muhammadu Buhari over restructuring to exercise restraint in their choice of words.
In a statement yesterday, Shehu said issues are resolved through “established processes, not by abuses, insults or irresponsible statements”.
He was reacting to opinions expressed over Buhari’s speech. The president had said the unity of the country was not negotiable and this irked some people.
But Shehu said it was important to avoid heating up the polity and causing acrimony across the country.
The presidential aide said the majority of the citizens welcomed the broadcast and condemned those criticising the president for not responding to calls for a restructuring of the country.
He said the president had no power to impose the restructuring on the country by military dictate.
Shehu explained that national assembly members were the elected representatives of the people who could handle agitations for restructuring and other constitutional changes.
According to him, the president is constitutionally bound to work with the national assembly to deal with such complex issues.
He reminded the critics that Buhari would not exercise arbitrary powers or bypass the legislature in taking such fundamental decisions.
“Changes don’t happen on a whim in a democracy. The ‘immediate effect’ military mentality cannot work under a democratic order,” he said.
“Since the president has sworn to defend the constitution, he will remain faithful to that oath by working with the legislature in taking major decisions on the future of Nigeria’s federal system.”
He, however, stated that “while Nigerians are free to express themselves, they should exercise such liberty with restraint and a sense of responsibility”.
He said calling the president an enemy of Nigeria “is in extreme bad taste,” adding that nothing in Buhari’s service record would justify such language.
“The country’s parliament is ready and willing to discuss all issues but the pundits are more interested in television and newspaper headlines,” he said.
“Threats don’t work in a democracy. Democracy requires planning and proper process; issues are resolved through established processes, not by abuses, insults or irresponsible statements”.