National Publicity Secretary of the All Progressives Congress (APC) , Alhaji Lai Mohammed in this interview with Temidayo Akinsuyi reels out the achievements of President Muhammadu Buhari in office since assumption of office two months ago. He also gave reasons why the party is backing the probe of former president Goodluck Jonathan. Excerpts:
The PDP for the second time have insisted that the Director- General of Department of Security Services (DSS), Lawan Daura is a card carrying member of your party. They even produced picture and a list where his name is included in the Election Committee of the APC. What is your take on that?
We insist that the incumbent DG of SSS, Lawal Daura is not a card carrying member of our party, the All Progressives Congress (APC). Photographs or being a member of the election committee of a party in any capacity is not conclusive evidence that somebody is a card-carrying member of a party. The only authentic and conclusive evidence that a person is a member of a party is either if his name appears on the register of the party in the local government or ward, or if that person can produce his membership card. I think the PDP is just being hypocritical. In the1998 general election, Col. Kayode Are played a prominent and critical role as chairman of General Obasanjo Intelligence Committee. He was present at every campaign and he played a very significant role. When Obasanjo became president, he made him the DG of the SSS. Nobody complained about that. In 2011, Sir Mike Okiro, a retired Inspector- General of Police was the chairman of the security committee of the PDP presidential campaign. He was also the Chief Security Adviser to the then Chairman of PDP Alhaji Bamanga Tukur, He was rewarded with the chairmanship of the Police Service Commission. Nobody also complained about that. Mike Omeri, present Director- General of the National Orientation Agency was a member of the Jonathan Election Committee. He never resigned from his position as DG of NOA. So, why are they making a fuss about this? Move forward and go to the US. Leon Panetta, served as a member of the Democratic House of Representatives and ended up becoming Director of CIA. The fact that the incumbent DSS DG is a member of the election committee does not qualify him as a member of our party and neither does that disqualify him for being appointed DG SSS. We have also shown examples of people who have played similar roles in the PDP campaign and have ended up becoming DG of SSS, Chairman of Police Service Commission and the likes. So, what is the noise all about? Is it a crime for someone to be close to Mr. President? When it comes to integrity, competence, capacity and experience I think Nigerians are quite safe with the choice of Daura as the DG of SSS. The PDP went further to say that Lawan Daura was appointed the DG so that he can be arresting their members. The elections in Rivers and Akwa Ibom are very clear. It is the PDP in collusion with INEC officials in Rivers and Akwa Ibom states that have decided to frustrate the election petitions of the APC at the tribunal in those states. They have refused to obey orders given by the tribunal. On several occasions, the APC in Rivers wrote petitions to the Inspector- General of Police, DG of SSS informing them that the PDP have refused to abide by the rulings of the tribunal. And if you look at the duty and power of the SSS , it includes finding out why a court order is not being obeyed. And that is why the INEC and PDP officials were invited by the DSS to come and prove why they should not be sanctioned for disobeying the directive of the tribunal. So, they are just crying wolf where there is none.
Some have also fingered the APC in the ordeal of former spokesperson of the DSS, Marilyn Ogar given some of her statements while in office. What is your take on that?
That is not correct. What really happened was that towards the tail end of the Jonathan administration, they made certain promotions which did not follow due process. It was not only Marilyn Ogar that was affected. Even at that time, she and others who were promoted knew that the promotions they got did not follow due process. That was why they were reverted to their former positions. Otherwise, they could have gone to court to challenge the action or seek redress elsewhere. It has nothing to do with the APC at all.
Now, the crisis in the National Assembly seems to have been resolved for now. Femi Gbajabiamila has been made the Majority Leader of the House, just as the APC wanted. Can we say the party is contented with the situation as it is?
Whether in the Senate or the House of Representatives, we will ensure that we resolve our problems and we also assure Nigerians will surely get the change they voted for. It is a learning process but I can assure you that the APC as a people-oriented party will do all it can to justify the confidence reposed in it by Nigerians when they rejected the PDP and overwhelmingly voted for us as the in the last elections.
Some Nigerians including a former Vice Chairman of Arewa Consultative Forum (ACF ), Senator Joseph Waku have indicted the APC National leader, Asiwaju Bola Tinubu of being responsible for the probe of Toyin Saraki by the EFCC. Some have attributed this to the fact that it is an indication that the crisis in the NASS yet to be over. What will you say to that?
I think the APC National Leader, Asiwaju Bola Tinubu has dissociated himself from that. People are just looking for things to say. It is also interesting to know that the PDP in Kwara state have admitted that they were the one that actually wrote the petition. But I think that pressure was brought upon by them by whomever and they later recanted. I believe the EFCC can tell Nigerians who actually wrote the said petition. The APC has absolved itself from it and so also has Asiwaju Bola Ahmed Tinubu.
The PDP National Publicity Secretary, Olisa Metuh said President Buhari has not fulfilled any electoral promises he made to Nigerians since assuming office two months ago. One of such promise is that he will crush Boko Haram in two months of his assumption of office. What is your say on this?
Let Metuh produce the evidence where president Buhari said he will deal with Boko Haram within two months. It is preposterous. The president is a seasoned retired military general and he understands that you don’t just make statements that you will win a war in one or two months. A war veteran like him will not give a date on when a war will end. Having said that, we are proud of the efforts made so far by the president in combating the scourge called Boko Haram. Within, a short period of time, he has achieved so much. He has consulted with a lot of our neighbours, he has consulted with member countries of the Lake Chad basin commission. He has gotten firm assurances from ECOWAS heads of states, he has gotten assurances from G-7, and his recent trip to the US President Obama also gave us assurances that the US is ready to help us to fight Boko Haram using the instrumentality of the Lake Chad Basin Commission which comprises of Niger, Chad and Cameroun. And it is furtherance of this that the President embarked on his recent trip to Cameroun and one can see that it was a huge success. For the first time, all our neighbours have now agreed to come together and fight Boko Haram. By the grace of God, this week, they are going to launch the Multinational Joint Task Force. However you cannot end insurgency through a one-dimensional approach. It is not all about fighting and shooting. It is also about understanding and addressing the circumstances that has made Boko Haram so attractive to some youths. Issues like bad governance, poor economy, corruption and unemployment. And in his recent trip to the US, the World Bank offered Nigeria soft loan of $2.1b to rehabilitate the economy of the North East. These are some of steps the immediate past administration under the PDP has all the time to take but did not take. On the issue of the economy, he improved the economy, no matter what any critic will say. Some states owed as much as 10 months of workers’ salaries. He has created a loan for the states as to enable them to pay all their arrears. But he has done more than that. He has also instructed the Debt Management Office to restructure the commercial loans of all the states. By so doing, he is helping the states so that more money will come to them at the end of the month. Then in the area of the economy again, it is evident across the country that electricity supply has improved. Our refineries are picking up. We are expecting a trade delegation of top US companies here in the next few weeks. The embassy is already coordinating this.
Has he achieved anything in the area of fighting corruption?
In the area of fighting corruption, the first thing the president did on assumption of office was to ensure that all monies accruing to the federal government is paid into one treasury account. This is against what obtained under previous administrations where there were several accounts and nobody knew where all the monies were being paid into. And as part of the transparency of the federal government, for first time we are hearing that we even collect dividends from the Nigerian Liquefied Natural Gas. This is unprecedented. Again, there has been shocking revelations as to how funds and monies belonging to the federal government never reached the government’s account. The NNPC is yet to account for the sum of N3.8 trillion that accrued to the nation between 2010 and 2014, . Then, you can see generally that there is this Buhari effect everywhere both within Nigeria and the international community and Nigerians now have hope in their country. So, for anybody to say this government has not done anything in the last two months, it is clear that such a person is just being crassly partisan.
The APC said they are backing Buhari on Jonathan’s probe. People are wondering why is the APC only interested in the probe of the immediate past administration alone when corruption has been in the system for so long?
Because we took over from him. If we decide to extend Obasanjo’s era some people will say why not go to Shagari era? He handed over to us and because of the shoddy manner of the handing over, there is need for us to ask questions. And again, it is a way of sending a powerful signal to others that government is not a place where you come and make money at the expense of the common man. You cannot just steal government funds and get away with it. And in any event to equate our decision to probe the Jonathan’s administration to witch hunting is grossly unfair. After all only the guilty will be afraid.
You are from Kwara. You made a statement shortly after Saraki’s emergence that drew the ire of some residents of the state who believe you are working against the interest of the state. What is your take on that?
There are obligations and responsibilities that go with every position. There are times that you are caught between unpleasant situations. Views that are expressed by me in the media are not my personal views. They are the views of the party. Whenever there is a clash of interest, my allegiance first of all is to Nigeria, my party, and my state and when there is any conflict between the views of the party and my personal views, the views of the party is supreme. I am sure those who criticized me have now seen that I was just doing my job.


Chris Kehinde Nwandu is the Editor In Chief of CKNNEWS || He is a Law graduate and an Alumnus of Lagos State University, Lead City University Ibadan and Nigerian Institute Of Journalism || With over 2 decades practice in Journalism, PR and Advertising, he is a member of several Professional bodies within and outside Nigeria || Member: Institute Of Chartered Arbitrators ( UK ) || Member : Institute of Chartered Mediators And Conciliation || Member : Nigerian Institute Of Public Relations || Member : Advertising Practitioners Council of Nigeria || Fellow : Institute of Personality Development And Customer Relationship Management || Member and Chairman Board Of Trustees: Guild Of Professional Bloggers of Nigeria

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