Lai Mohammed to El-Rufai: Buhari committed to free, fair election
Lai Mohammed, Minister of Information and Culture, on Wednesday, disassociated the Federal Government from alleged plans to scuttle the ambition of Bola Tinubu, the presidential candidate of the All Progressive Congress (APC). Mohammed also said that President Muhammadu Buhari was committed to free, fair, credible elections.
The minister was reacting to the allegations by Governor Nasir El- rufai, of Kaduna State, that “some elements in Aso Rock Presidential Villa are working against the victory of the APC and its Tinubu, its candidate, ahead of the February 25 presidential election.
El-Rufai, who appeared on Sunrise Daily programme on Channels TV on Wednesday, had criticised Buhari’s timing for the naira redesign.
The governor, who is noted for his frank comments on national issues, stated that the “president had his right to redesign the currency, but stressed that “doing it at this time within the allotted time did not make any political or economic sense.”
According to him” I believe there are elements in the Villa that want us to lose the election because they didn’t get their way; they had their candidate. Their candidate did not win the primaries.
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“They are trying to get us to lose the election, and they are hiding behind the president’s desire to do what he thinks is right.
But the information minister, in his response, while briefing Stare House journalists, after the Federal Executive Council ( FEC), meeting presided over by Buhari, recalled that the president had at various fora expressed his desire for a free, fair and credible election.
“I think with this administration, the most important person is Mr. President and I think he has shown by words and by indeed that he is dedicated to free, fair and credible elections.
“And a fair, free, credible election actually means not backing anybody. And everywhere he goes he makes that very clear, even as recently as last Friday, when he was in Daura, he said the same thing.
“If there’s anybody working against a candidate we don’t know officially.
The minister who also spoke on the Transparency International rating of Nigeria, said the government position remains the same.
“We are not fighting corruption because we want to impress Transparency International or any organisation whatsoever. We’re fighting corruption because we believe if we do not fight corruption; there’ll be no growth either in terms of the economy or even politically. Therefore, what we do and what we’re putting in place to fight corruption is not because we want to be rated by anybody.
Mohammed said the government does not know the yardstick for such rating, adding that “whatever template they’re using is clearly oblivious of what this administration is doing, to fight corruption.
“Corruption fighting is not just by how many people you have arrested, or how many people have you tried, or how many people have you convicted
“Of course, even in that respect, we have a very impressive record; is it the EFCC or is it the ICPC?
He spoke of how the current administration managed funds from the Abacha loot and other funds recovered from the US, the UK and Europe.
“What this administration did, was that rather than pay these funds into the treasury and face the possibility of it being stolen or being re-looted, the administration decided that we will put this money into a separate account and ask the National Sovereign Investment Fund to manage these funds, and we used this money for specific projects.
“It makes me proud to say that we have been more proactive in fighting corruption and people are not willing to see what we have put in place in fighting corruption. And that’s why I gave that example of putting money aside and how those funds are being used.
“Again, the courage of this administration even to expose high ranking officials of administration who have run foul of the law, is evidence of our determination and courage to fight corruption.
Mohammed noted that the administration “is not really worried or bothered about rating of the TI, because we know that everything we do is to ensure that we fight corruption the best way we know how to do.”