It was a surprising week as Social Media went agog following the alleged Buhari wedding to Farouk.
Garba Shehu, the Senior Special Assistant to the President on Media and publicity said this in a statement on Sunday.
Garba pointed out that the opposition completely went missing last week during the reintroduction of anti-sexual harassment legislation in the Senate and 2020 Budget presentation by President Muhammadu Buhari to the National Assembly.
He said that rather than concentrate on national issues, the PDP was carried away by fake news of President Buhari’s rumoured wedding to one of his ministers.
The missing of the opposition and failure to hold the government to account, he said, was dereliction of duty.
He said, “Last week, the Nigeria’s senate majority leader reintroduced anti-sexual harassment legislation to parliament, following a serious exposé by the BBC of a sex for grades scandal at the University of Lagos.
“The bill had been tabled before – in 2016 – but it was not passed: some members of our party, working with the opposition, then stronger in numbers than today, blocked it.
“This time around, there has been no such attempt by the opposition Peoples Democratic Party, PDP, to scupper the legislation. We cannot tell whether they remain opposed to it, for they have been too busy to let the 200 million citizens of Nigeria know. Instead, last week – whilst this matter was in the Senate, and the first Federal Budget following our February General Election, was being tabled before the House – the opposition’s full attention was elsewhere: on the affairs of the President, who we were told by the internet, was planning to marry in secret to one of his cabinet ministers.”
According to him, the menace of fake news is not unique to Nigeria
“The interminable nonsense of fake news is hardly unique to Nigeria. In the United States, Britain – indeed across much of the democratic world – we see waves of falsehoods and untruths peddled across digital and mainstream media.
“It has led to journalists and the press to become less trusted than almost any other profession or estate. Yet elsewhere, whether the fake facts emanate from governments or oppositions, neither have sought to abdicate their unique responsibilities in the act of governance.”
Speaking further on the opposition, he said “In Nigeria, the opposition is close to reneging completely on the compact it holds with the voters. Every modern democracy exists for its checks and balances. Voters may elect a government to govern but they also elect an opposition – to oppose, to scrutinise, and to hold the majority to account.
“In the absence of either weight or counterweight, the scales of democracy become imbalanced. This cannot continue for long without the full functioning of governance being affected.
“Whether citizens voted for President Buhari and the All Progressives Congress (APC), or for the opposition’s presidential candidate and his People’s Democratic Party (PDP), no one voted for failure.
“They may have voted differently on policy and personality, but regardless of a voter’s choice of candidate and party, for their vote they expect responsibility. No voter expected, nor wanted, the opposition somehow to simply go missing. But that, effectively, is what they have done.
“Immediately after the February election that saw President Buhari re-elected to a second four-year term, and his APC secure a workable majority both in the Senate and House, the PDP went to court to challenge the result.
“The world over election losers tend towards “lawfare” once they have lost the campaign battle in the field. None can begrudge the PDP their day in court: yet it was never in doubt that they would fail to persuade the judiciary to overturn President Buhari’s 4 million votes and 14 percent margin of victory over his opponent.