The aim is to prevent the merger talks by opposition parties from being successful and constituting a problem for the ruling Peoples Democratic Party (PDP).
In the coming wave of arrests, even members of the PDP whose political leaning is in doubt will not be spared, according to sources, who pleaded not to be named because of ‘the sensitivity of the matter”.
The Action Congress of Nigeria (ACN) yesterday raised the alarm about “desperate measures being planned by the PDP-led Federal Government to discredit and silence key opposition leaders involved in the ongoing plans to form a formidable platform to confront the PDP in 2015”.
A former security chief is believed to be one of those being targeted. He is to be hurled before a court and charged with contract fraud, among others, according to sources who pleaded not to be named.
In a statement by its National Publicity Secretary, Alhaji Lai Mohammed, the ACN said the paranoia over the merger plans has driven the government “to resort to imprudent and crude tactics aimed at tarnishing the image of key opposition leaders, especially the ACN National Leader, Asiwaju Bola Tinubu and his CPC counterpart, Gen. Muhammadu Buhari, as well as their close political associates.”
The statement said “Tinubu is particularly a prime target of these evil machinations, because of his status as the leader of the country’s second biggest party, his progressive credentials as well as his electoral value, adding that as far as the PDP-led government is concerned, getting him out of the way is the best way to ruin the merger plans.”
‘’For the Jonathan-led Administration, and not minding its deceptive aloofness from it all, the race for 2015 has started in earnest and it is a do-or-die affair, and all means foul and unfair are on the table to cripple the opposition, by ensuring that nothing will be left of the integrity of its key leaders even if they are fortunate to make it to 2015.
‘’These opposition leaders are considered as constituting a clear and present danger to the electoral fortunes of the PDP in 2015, hence must be stopped at all costs and by whatever means,’’ the ACN said.
The party said a fortune had been earmarked for the phased campaign, which has already started with a well-oiled media war, being waged especially online, denigrating these leaders.
‘’Some key government agencies have also been co-opted to dig up any dirt they hope can be plastered on the targeted leaders while foreign intelligence agencies have been contacted in a desperate attempt to unearth any information that can be used to discredit and disgrace these major opposition figures thus distracting them from the merger plans.
‘’Indications are that highly-combustible sectional and religious issues that are being manipulated by desperate forces to divide and destroy are not off the table as long as exploiting them can shut down the opposition. Or how else does one interpret a recent PDP statement that President Goodluck Jonathan is being criticised by the opposition because he is from a minority ethnic group?
‘’And what about the continuous efforts, which have failed so far, to portray a key opposition leader as a sponsor of Boko Haram? His nomination as a ‘facilitator’ of some phantom peace talks was not an accident, but was carefully choreographed to portray him as a religious zealot and terrorist not fit to preside over the affairs of the nation,’’ it said.
The ACN warned that every action of the PDP-led Federal Government concerning the stated evil machinations will be put under the microscope henceforth, and called on all lovers of democracy and the rule of law to be on the alert in the days and weeks ahead to help forestall the evil plan.
‘’Those who either conveniently acquiesced or opted to dine with the devil when many progressives took to the trenches during the long, bitter and gruelling battle to enthrone the democracy we are now enjoying apparently do not value it, and will stop at nothing to endanger it on the altar of selfish personal interests and political expediency.
‘’It is, therefore, incumbent on all Nigerians, especially those who believe that all hands must be on deck to nurture and strengthen our democracy, to be vigilant. After all, it is said that eternal vigilance is the price of liberty,’’ the AC N said.