Atiku Abubakar, the presidential candidate of the opposition People’s Democratic Party (PDP) in the just concluded election, says recent arrests of opposition members by the ruling All Progressive Congress (APC) raise concerns about possible voice suppression and fabricated accusations against opposition personalities.
“The ruling APC must refrain from any attempts to use our security agencies to harass or illegally detain any member or voice of the political opposition – and this call is not here limited to only members of my political party, but indeed all opposition voices including the many individuals across the internet who speak up only to seek a better country,” Mr Atiku wrote on Monday on his X platform.
He said that he had learnt from his time as Vice President, during which he also served as chair of various committees, that allowing opposing forces the political room to flourish is never a flaw.
“The praises of the administration in which I served as number two man and chaired several committees and initiatives are well in order and one of our strengths in power was always the ability to listen to divergent opinions – to disagree without being disagreeable,” he said.
The former Vice President argued that the key to success in positions of authority has always been the capacity to listen to opposing viewpoints and to disagree without becoming combative.
Mr Atiku called on the ruling APC, urging the party to forgo all attempts to intimidate or forcibly detain any member or representative of the political opposition.
He also told Nigerians to never lose their voice or let themselves be cowed into silence.
Mr Atiku’s remarks are being made against the backdrop of an alleged incident involving the ruling APC intimidating and harassing opposition parties.
Following a petition from Babatunde Fashola, the former minister of works, Chike Ibezim, an entrepreneur, was detained and arrested by the police.
Mr Chike was reportedly detained by some policemen on August 10 in Abuja, the nation’s capital.
According to reports, Mr Fashola sent a petition accusing the businessman of violating intellectual property rights in response to a story that appeared on Reportera, a news website founded by Chike Ibezim’s brother Nnamdi.
The medium reported in August that the former Lagos state governor was authoring the judgement of the presidential election tribunal that would be delivered to judges.
The praises of the administration in which I served as number two man and chaired several committees and initiatives are well in order and one of our strengths in power was always the ability to listen to divergent opinions – to disagree without being disagreeable.
Through various political formations over the years, I have observed that affording opposing forces the political space to thrive is never a flaw, but a strength that enriches democracy in that our best ideas are then tested and subjected to various viewpoints, leading to refinement and superb execution.
As a foremost leader in the political space, I understand the frustration of a younger generation with a country of so much promise, so little delivery and a gloomy outlook for the future. I have, however, been strident in calling for restraint and leading by example by not unnecessarily heating up the polity. Where opposition freedoms are, however, under threat or even the appearance of threat, we, as Democrats and Patriots, have a duty to speak up.
The principles of Democracy are principles that we have lived by and which we have seen some of our closest associates die for. The ruling APC must refrain from any attempts to use our security agencies to harass or illegally detain any member or voice of the political opposition – and this call is not here limited to only members of my political party, but indeed all opposition voices including the many individuals across the internet who speak up only to seek a better country.
The recent revelations suggesting potential suppression of voices and trumped-up allegations against opposition figures are deeply troubling. A vibrant democracy thrives not when dissent is silenced but when it is listened to, even if it makes those in authority uncomfortable.
The bedrock of any thriving democratic society is its ability to protect and respect contrarian viewpoints. Such viewpoints ensure that governance remains transparent and that power is not concentrated in the hands of a few. Arresting or silencing members of the opposition based on contrived charges is not only an affront to the principles of democracy but also a grave injustice to the very people who rely on the system for representation and justice. The government must avoid the temptation of conceding to the agenda of anti-democratic forces.
The essence of democracy is not about comfort for those in power but about ensuring justice, liberty, and equality for all. Let us, as Nigerians, unite in upholding these principles and ensuring that every voice, no matter how contrary, is allowed its rightful place in the discourse.
I continue to walk the path of seeking justice beyond judgement at the Supreme Court and I carry this responsibility with the knowledge that this path also carries the hopes of millions of Nigerians who by their votes sought a change in the political direction of our country. This responsibility is one I am prepared to lead for as long as I am here and in health, conscious that many of those whom we started together may no longer be with us but their memories remain evergreen.
Democracy is a collective responsibility, and I urge Nigerians to never lose their voice or let themselves be cowed into silence. -AA