President Goodluck Jonathan on Wednesday launched vitriol against critics of his administration, describing some statesmen as behaving like touts.
Jonathan, while receiving a delegation of Northern Elders Council (NEC) that visited him in Abuja, said most politicians parading themselves as senior citizens or statesmen were not different from bus station touts.
He said that “Some people call themselves statesmen but they are not statesmen, they are just ordinary politicians.
“For you to be a statesman is not because you have occupied a big office before, but the question is what are you bringing to bear? Are you building this country? Or are you a part of people who tell lies to destroy this country; to create enmity and make people who ordinarily would have been living together to fight themselves? Are you planning to set the country ablaze because you did not get that particular thing you want?”
Jonathan’s reaction came two days after Obasanjo accused the present administration of squandering huge savings from Excess Crude Account and foreign reserves. According to the president, “At the appropriate time, Nigerians will know all of us. Even though I know most of you know us, the younger ones do not know.
“Some people are hiding under some cloaks; some big names and creating a lot of problems in this country; making provocative statements in this country, statements that will set this country ablaze and you tell me you are a senior citizen. You are not a senior citizen; you can never be. You are an ordinary motor park tout.
“Because if you are a senior citizen, you will act like one. It is not because of the offices we occupy is by divine grace and providence that some of us occupy these offices. But what role are you playing to build this country?”
The president expressed sadness that younger Nigerians are seeing the country from the religious divide. “I was told that even the driver of Tafawa Balewa was a Christian.
“Our people lived together in those days, why not now that we have even modern ways of life? Our children leave us and go abroad they stay together and do a lot of things together.
“But when we come back home, we begin to build walls; this is a Southerner, this is a Northerner, this is a Muslim, this is a Christian, this is a Yoruba man, this is an Hausa man, this is an Ijaw man, this is a Nupe man. Is that the way we are going to develop our country?
“America is great today because America is made up of various cultural groups. Everybody makes America because ethnic lines have been so weakened that people think about America. And that is why America is great today.
“If today I’m sick, if the best doctor that can treat me is from Zamfara or Enugu or Ekiti, they will bring that doctor to treat me. They will not ask if that doctor is an Ijaw man, Ogbia or any other tribe.
“And until we get to that level where we begin to use people based on their competencies; until we get to that level where we don’t discriminate based on primordial privileges, that of course, will be the beginning of our development.
“I will continue to plead with you because from all of your activities you have been advocating for that,” Jonathan said.
The President also described as false the insinuations that he was against the North, saying that his government has ensured development and progress in the North.
According to him, Vice- President Namadi Sambo is from the North as well as some of the people who work with him, including his principal secretary and his chief detail.
Earlier, Chairman of the Northern Elders Council, Tanko Yakasai, had said the country was passing through political transformation. He explained that all Nigerians should appreciate that the country was crafted in a manner that no one section of the country can rule without the support of the other.