The Minister of Information and Culture, Alhaji Lai Mohammed has praised President Muhammadu Buhari for his neutrality in the conduct of the Anambra State governorship election.
In a recent interview, the Minister said “it was quite tempting” for the All Progressive Congress, APC government to rig the election so as to enable the party to secure a governorship seat in the South East.
He noted that Buhari created a level playing field for all candidates involved in the election because of his commitment to a free, fair and credible electoral process.
“If the people now decide to sell their votes, there is nothing the government at the centre can do but we will continue to drum it and let them understand that vote is the single most powerful weapon they have and once they sell it, they can’t come round again until the next four years to complain about the kind of leaders they have.
“But what I believe is that for us in APC as a government, we want the people of Nigeria to decide the outcome of every election. It is not about who is at the centre but we did not follow the temptation to use our muscle. It was quite tempting because we don’t have any governor in the South East but we felt it is only fair for the people to decide their own fate.”
According to Lai Mohammed, Buhari’s decision to resist the urge to rig the election was evidenced by the reinstatement of the re-elected Governor, Willie Obiano’s security aides who had been withdrawn by the Inspector General of Police, IGP, ahead of the election.
“Buhari’s administration provided a level playing field for all and he showed that from the manner he restored the security aides of Governor Obiano.
“For whatever reason, the Inspector General of Police (IGP) felt that, going by experience, it will not be proper to leave the security aides.
“So, he posted out the Aide-de-Camp (ADC) to the governor and other key security officials.
“But the president felt that it is not enough to be honest, you must also appear honest and whatever the reasons the IGP might have is about perception.
“He said the right thing to do is to restore the governor’s aides and design a manner to ensure that nobody will abuse the constitution.
“This has never happened in the history of Nigeria. I know that the practice before was that a few days before election, commissioners of police will be posted out even, sometimes, INEC officials or DG SSS will be posted out.
“But for Mr. President, the message is clear: let the people make their decisions.”
The Minister also said the successful conduct of the election and the turnout of voters has diminished the Indigenous People of Biafra, IPOB. Addressing the group’s earlier threat to boycott the election, Lai Mohammed said:
“I think what was really proven is that IPOB does not represent the good people of Anambra or any state in the South East. If truly they represented the people, the IPOB propaganda about the election really showed that they are not on ground.
“The people of Anambra have shown that there is no alternative to democracy and that they believe in one Nigeria and federal system of government. If there are issues to be resolved, let us resolve it. But terrorism and separatism is not the answer.
“I think the Anambra election has sounded the death knell on IPOB because they said the election will never hold. The election has come and gone, the turnout was quite reasonable. Every party competed very competitively and at the end of the day, the people of Anambra have decided who is going to be their governor.”