The Minister of Information and Culture, Lai Mohammed, says though it is the constitutional right of former President Olusegun Obasanjo to support a candidate for an election, his endorsement, will not guarantee victory, saying Obasanjo’s candidate for the 2019 presidential election “will be defeated roundly and comprehensively.’’
The Minister pointed out that while Obasanjo was entitled to support Atiku or any other candidate of his choice, Buhari had done enough to garner the overwhelming support of Nigerians to roundly defeat Atiku in the forthcoming contest.
“With due respect to Obasanjo, it is his fundamental right to support any candidate of his choice and we hereby encourage and urge him to go all out and campaign vigorously for Atiku Abubakar and we wish him the best of luck in his choice and political pursuit. But we assure him that his candidate will be roundly and comprehensively defeated by Buhari,” he said.
Mohammed, who briefed the media on current developments in the polity, also absolved President Buhari of any wrongdoing in rejecting the latest version of the Electoral Bill and returning it to the National Assembly, asking Nigerians to accept the reasons advanced by him for not assenting to the bill in good faith and in the national interest.
“We believe Mr. President has the prerogative to do what he has done by rejecting assent to the electoral bill. Each arm of government must guard jealously its independence. Let us wait for the National Assembly’s next line of action on the electoral bill,” he said.
The Minister also responded to a statement credited to the former president that, “only a fool will sit on the fence when his or her country is being destroyed with incompetence, corruption, lack of focus, insecurity, nepotism and brazen impunity.”
Mohammed said he held Obasanjo in high esteem and that the ex-president was probably not properly briefed on the development in the country to have made such conclusions.
“The facts are all there that this government has done more than any other government in three and half years.
“We want to place it on record that the Buhari government has done the best for this country in virtually all facets of governance and for this reason, we believe strongly that we have enough achievements to flaunt and win the forthcoming election with ease,” he said.
On corruption, the Minister said that the government had put in place institutional reforms which had confirmed its sincerity and commitment to fighting the menace.
“It is not about putting people in jail, but what are the things put in place to address this endemic problem?
“Take the example of Treasury Single Account, which was not initiated by this government. It is only the Buhari administration that has the political will to implement it.
“Before we came in, there were over 22,000 government accounts in various banks.
“Since we came, we reduced it to one account and from 2015 to date, N8.9trn has passed through the TSA, which is as a result of transparency and accountability,’’ he said.
The Minister said that even with lean resources, the Buhari administration had spent more on infrastructure than the 16 years of the PDP administrations.