The Federal Government has said the deliberate release of an audio in which the Minister of Transportation, Mr Rotimi Amaechi, allegedly criticised President Muhammadu Buhari will not break the ruling All Progressives Congress (APC).
The Minister of Information and Culture, Alhaji Lai Mohammed, stated this while speaking with journalists in Abuja on Tuesday.
Mohammed said, “The opposition is determined to ensure the ongoing campaign for the 2019 elections is not based on issues but on mudslinging.
“What is the point in shopping around for audio clips or publications that are then maliciously edited out of context? Why do they think this will break our ranks in the ruling party?
“What advantage do they think they can get from this infantile act? Whoever wants to circulate any audio or video clip should do so in its entirety so the people can understand the context. Otherwise, let them continue wasting their time circulating an audio that is clearly designed to blackmail.”
IG’s tenure elongation
Speaking on controversy around the Inspector-General of Police, Mr Ibrahim Idris, whose tenure will expire on January 15, Mohammed said the President “is at liberty to extend his tenure.”
He also said the planned protest by the opposition would not be enough to stop the President from excising his power.
The minister claimed that former Presidents extended the tenures of former IGs.
He said, “When you are drowning, you grab any floating object you can find. You even grab at straws. That’s what the PDP is doing with the issue of the IGP’s tenure.
“In the first instance, it is the prerogative of Mr President to extend or not to extend the tenure of the Inspector-General of Police or any service chief. That prerogative cannot be taken from Mr President on the altar of paranoia by some people.
“Former President Olusegun Obasanjo, in his time, extended the tenure of Mr Sunday Ehindero as IGP. Was there no opposition party then? Also, in his time, President Umaru Yar’Ardua extended the tenure of Mr Mike Okiro as IGP, heavens didn’t fall.”
He added, “I have read that some opposition parties are planning a series of nationwide protests on the issue of IG’s tenure. That’s purely within their right in a democracy. And I wish them the best of luck.”
Speaking on INEC’s appointment of Mrs Amina Zakari as head of the commission’s Collation Centre Committee, Mohammed described the opposition’s reaction to it as nothing but sheer hysteria, which he said would result from a pathological fear of impending political doom.
He said, “Her role is limited to overseeing the physical structure, that is the International Conference Centre, which is the collation centre for the presidential election. The cries of the opposition amount to red herring.
“In targeting Mrs Zakari, the PDP has forgotten that she was appointed in their time. If she was found worthy then, what has changed now?
“Ahead of the 2019 elections, the PDP has complained against the IG, INEC chairman, Mrs Amina Zakari, etc., the party is blaming everyone but itself for the sorry state in which it has found itself.”
Why Buhari appointed Tinubu to head campaign
Mohammed also said President Buhari would not want his work to be affected by campaign, and decided to hand over the responsibility of steering the campaign to a former governor of Lagos State, Asiwaju Bola Tinubu.
He said the action was within the President’s prerogative and a mark of the confidence he reposed in the former governor.
He said, “Concerning the mischievous insinuation from the opposition that PMB handed over the campaign to Asiwaju because he cannot withstand the rigours of electioneering campaign, this is absurd.
“The President’s daily schedule over the past months is more rigorous than any electioneering campaign.
“Of course, it has never happened in the recent history of Nigeria that a President facing re-election will rather concentrate on his job rather than his campaign. PDP, for one, cannot fathom this because of their brand of do or die politics. Again, the President deserves commendation, not condemnation, for that decision.”
Mohammed also denied the PDP’s allegations that the ruling party was planning to use the Operation Python Dance launched by the army to rig elections.
“The truth is that the PDP, in its time, used the security agencies to rig elections after elections. It is therefore not a surprise they are afraid that the APC might do the same. We do not rig elections and we do not use security agencies to rig elections. We are APC, not PDP.”