Nigeria’s Minister of Communications, Adebayo Shittu, has accused former President Olusegun Obasanjo of “churning out falsehood” against President Muhammadu Buhari.
Mr. Shittu said this on Monday while briefing journalists at the Aso Rock Villa Abuja.
Former President Obasanjo had last week issued a damning statement on the Buhari administration, accusing the president of underperformance and condonation of corruption.
The former president also advised Mr. Buhari not to seek re-election for second term.
Mr. Shittu said as a Minister for two years in the administration of Mr. Buhari, he considered it a patriotic duty to speak to Nigerians on a number of issues “that have been trending, particularly in the south west and generally in the country”.
He said he was speaking personally and as an APC member, because, according to him, the government had not been talking enough.
“Obasanjo as a Nigerian has the right to hold an opinion. If Obasanjo holds an opinion that Mr. President has performed less than it should be, those of us who are in the position to know better have a right to also state the other side which perhaps Obasanjo is ignorant of,” the minister said.
“You see, there are some people who enjoy engaging in sensationalism. With due respect to General Obasanjo, if you take his history over the last 30 years, there is hardly any regime other than his own that he did not criticise, except Sani Abacha, who didn’t wait for Obasanjo to criticise him before he was sent to the gulag.
“So many Nigerians know that Obasanjo enjoys this type of sensationalisation. In any case, no matter what impression you have of me, do you have a right to tell me not to contest an election? I mean we should talk like people who are educated, who know our left from the right,” Mr. Shittu said.
The Minister said Mr. Obasanjo was taking advantage of the modesty of the Buhari administration.
“We belong in modesty, we do not believe in propaganda. Unfortunately enemies of this government, particularly people who perhaps feel they have lost out in the new dispensation have been churning out false information, blackmail and all kinds of baseless accusations, particularly of non-performance of the government.
“I am talking here not as the spokesperson of the government but as an individual, a leader of APC from Oyo State, who also is a member of this government, having been minister of communications.
“I believe as an active participant in political and governmental affairs I have a duty to the government and to myself and I believe to all Nigerians that we have to correct a lot of misinformation and blackmail that is out there by people who ordinarily deserve respect but who for reason of clanishness, for reason of tribalism; for reasons of religious bigotry and intolerance have decided to see and not to ask questions about what is going on in the country,” he said.
Mr. Shittu also said contrary to the widespread information, the Buhari government has performed better that the PDP which was in power for 16 years.
He said the administration has performed better in agriculture, housing and power.
Only APC can stop Buhari from running
The Minister said only the governing All Progressives Congress, APC, can stop Mr. Buhari from seeking re-election.
“There are procedures for elections. President Buhari is a member of the APC and the APC has its rules and regulations as to how candidates will emerge.
“If members of the party feel that the president has not performed well enough, it is for them to show that during the primary election. It’s not for anybody to shortchange Nigerians and prevent people from offering themselves for an election.
“In any case, since Obasanjo is no more a member of our party, with due respect to him, it doesn’t lie in his mouth to tell us who among our party members or leaders to contest or not to contest. I think Nigerians should concede this privilege to we the members of APC to decide the fate of Mr. President when the next round of primaries come.”
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