BEING THE TEXT OF THE PRESS CONFERENCE ADDRESSED BY THE HON. MINISTER OF INFORMATION AND CULTURE, ALHAJI LAI MOHAMMED, IN ABUJA ON THURSDAY, 11 APRIL 2019
Good morning gentlemen, and thank you for honoring our invitation to this press conference
2. As you must have noticed in recent times, posters bearing the picture of former Vice President and the presidential candidate of the PDP, Alhaji Atiku Abubakar, with the inscription: ”THE PUKKA, H.E. ATIKU ABUBAKAR, THE REAL AND THE RIGHT”, have surfaced across major streets in Abuja.
3. The appearance of these posters coincide with the media report that Alhaji Atiku Abubakar has hired a US lobbying firm to convince the United States not to recognize the re-election of President Buhari until the Supreme Court has ruled on the suit by the PDP presidential candidate
4. The posters and the hiring of US lobbyists, the latest of such by the PDP candidate, have triggered questions about what Alhaji Abubakar is up to. Is he starting a fresh campaign after the elections have been won and lost? Has he rescinded his decision to challenge the results of the presidential election in court, perhaps after realizing that the results he claimed to have obtained from the INEC back server are cooked? Is he now going for self-help? What really is Atiku’s motive?
5. Gentlemen, we are aware of media reports that the PDP presidential candidate on Wednesday distanced himself from the posters that are circulating in Abuja. He also reportedly denied hiring US lobbyists, claiming tongue-in-cheek that the APC fabricated the report. If the media reports are right, it means that the former Vice President has suddenly realized the grave implication of his actions, hence has decided to beat a quick retreat before it is too late. As a self-avowed democrat, he should realize that the only lawful channel
for challenging the result of an election is through the courts.
Resorting to self-help, as he seems to be doing now, is an act of desperation and the consequences are dire.
6. There is no doubt that the PDP presidential candidate, out of desperation, is thinking of replicating the Venezuelan model right here in Nigeria. But he should realize that Nigeria is not Venezuela, and that the situations in both countries are not the same.
7. President Muhammadu Buhari won the Feb. 23rd 2019 presidential elections fair and square, with a margin of 3,928,869 million votes. The election’s credibility was attested to by local and foreign observers.
8. There is no doubt that President Buhari’s victory is well deserved. As I said at a different forum, it represents the triumph of the ordinary Nigerians over the elite. The election is a direct contest between ordinary Nigerians and the elite, most of whom are rent seekers. Of course, the ordinary Nigerians have won. This is not a surprise, considering the pro-poor policy of the Administration. Despite the antics of the naysayers, Nigerians demonstrated that they appreciate the giant strides that have been made by the Administration, whether in the areas of economy, fight against corruption or in tackling insecurity.
9. This is a government that has done so much with less in restoring decency and integrity to governance. Like the New York Times said, the re-election of President Buhari is a referendum on honesty. Of course you know that the policies of the Administration endeared President Buhari to the ordinary Nigerians: The government feeds 9.3 million school children everyday; 500,000 unemployed graduates have been employed under N-Power; 300,000 families are benefiting from the Conditional Cash Transfer; Interest-free loans of between N10,000 and
N100,000 under the TraderMoni and the MarketMoni Schemes, respectively, to small business owners;Pensioners who have been left in the lurch are being paid – ex-workers of the Nigerian Airways, NITEL and former Biafran Policemen; Fight against corruption is being institutionalized with a number of policies that include Treasury Single Account (TSA) and the Whistle-blower policy that has led to the recovery of huge amounts of money as well as property from looters.
10. Alhaji Atiku Abubakar has the right to do whatever is lawful to challenge the outcome of that election. But he cannot get through the back door what he couldn’t get through the front door. That will be a pipe dream.
11. If he believes hiring a foreign lobbying firm will advance his quest, we wish him the best of luck. But seeking US recognition as the winner of an election that he lost by almost 4 million votes is unconscionable. Recall, gentlemen, that after the result of the presidential election was announced, the U.S. joined other countries to congratulate President Buhari.
12. Let me read a part of the statement by Michael Pompeo, the US Secretary of State: “We commend all those Nigerians who participated peacefully in the election and condemn those whose acts of violence harmed Nigerians and the electoral process. We note the assessments of international and domestic observer missions affirming the overall credibility of the election, despite localized violence and irregularities. Going forward, the United States remains committed to working together with Nigeria to achieve greater peace and prosperity for both our nations.” I think that says it all
13. Yes, Alhaji Atiku Abubakar has lost an election. But he will not be the first or the last person to lose an election, and he should realize that losing an election is not the end of the world. He has challenged the result of the election in court. That’s just as well. However, he should not give the impression that he does not have confidence in the judicial process, which is what resorting to self-help implies. He should stop overheating the polity and quit trying to instigate a political crisis in Nigeria. No citizen, no matter how highly placed, is above the laws of the land. Enough is enough!