The Presidency on Tuesday told some Northern youths to thank their stars that the nation is operating a “truly democratic government” where free speech is guaranteed after they protested against President Muhammadu Buhari’s handling of insecurity in the region.
The Senior Special Assistant to the President Muhammadu Buhari, on Media and Publicity, Garba Shehu issued the statement.
Recall that the protest was organised by the Coalition of Northern Groups. The groups had on Monday asked the Federal Government to stop the massive killings and raiding of communities in the North by bandits and Boko Haram insurgents.
In separate statements, they decried the deplorable security situation in the North and demanded the immediate removal of the service chiefs.
The Coalition of Northern Groups also in its June 12 message said Nigeria, particularly the north, has had the worst set of incompetent leaders in the last five years.
The group also de-recognized June 12 as Nigeria’s Democracy Day.
However, Shehu said it amounted to a grave mistake for the Northern youths to dissociate themselves from Democracy Day and, in effect de-cognizing democracy as a chosen system of government.
He said, “For a start if the group dared to issue such a comment under non-democratic method, they would have met a swift and harsh retribution from a dictatorial government.
“They should thank their stars that we are operating a truly democratic government where the rights of free speech are guaranteed and protected.
“This government has done more than any other – elected or not elected – to curtail and beat back the terrorists.
“Similarly, no government has done more to foster democracy and freedom of speech in Nigeria than the current administration.
“The fact that CNG is freely able to transmit garbage to the media in the hope they will be widely reported is a testament to the freed a testament to the freedom of expression and media liberty that exists in our country today.
“Equally, the fact that the government is issuing this statement, in response to the puerile message is a testament that today Nigeria is a country where disagreements can be aired publicly through the press, not through less gentlemanly methods used in the past.
“We hope that CNG will consider the facts and reconsider the unhelpful and inaccurate message their statements contain when issuing them in the future.
“We are facing severe hardships because of the coronavirus pandemic. And we continue to face the challenges posed by the terrorists Boko Haram.
“Yet when groups such as the Coalition of Northern Groups put out statements claiming that Democracy Day holds no purpose and the government somehow wishes for the northern states to be struggling, it is embarrassing not for the government but for the group, its members and their sponsors.”