The Minister of Information, Lai Mohammed, has said he was questioned by international media organisations he engaged with recently on the irony of the Buhari administration’s anti-corruption effort, and the emergence of Atiku Abubakar as the presidential candidate of the Peoples Democratic Party.
He said this happened in London during three days of engagements with major media networks and think tanks.
Giving a wrap up of the engagements on Saturday in London, the minister said the media houses he visited raised questions as to why Mr Abubakar could emerge as presidential candidate, considering the anti-corruption stance of President Muhammadu Buhari’s administration.
The News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) reports that the minister engaged with media organisations including Reuters, Aljazeera, the Economist, AP, New African, African Business and African Review Magazines.
The minister said: “One curious issue that kept occurring was that anytime I spoke about how we have waged war against corruption, the journalists kept asking me a question.
“They asked me: How can you claim to have succeeded in waging war against corruption, when one of the major contestants in the 2019 general elections is actually a man with stupendous wealth but cannot explain the source of his wealth?
“That baffled me a lot, because it means that we are still being perceived as a country where corruption thrives.
“It was difficult for me to explain to them that yes, we are fighting corruption but these are the same people who have put this country where we are today and who are also trying to come back to power.”
The minister said he assured the media organisations that “this will however define the task of choice for Nigerians”.
“The choice for Nigerians today is either they go back to the corrupt past where our commonwealth was shared by a few elites or move forward and continue with this new trajectory where the national resources are used for the benefit of all Nigerians,” he said.
“I explained to them that the 2019 elections have been defined, and the choice have been made easy.
“We are sure that Nigerians will choose rightly”.
NAN reports that the minister during the visit also delivered lecture at Chatham House, UK based Royal Institute of International Affairs on the topic, “Nigeria’s National Unity: Towards Participation and Shared Values”
Mr Mohammed also engaged with foreign and Commonwealth Office, All Party Parliamentary Group and Royal African Society, a body founded in 1990 to promote relations between the UK and Africa.
On his general assessment of the trip, the minister said it was exciting and fruitful.
“We set out from home to engage the major media networks and the major think tanks and stakeholders here,” he said.
“The Chatham House platform gave me the opportunity to explain the role of my Ministry in enhancing national unity, participation and share values.
“We have in attendance many stakeholders, including the High Commissioners of Nigeria and that of Cyprus to the UK and many people in the Diaspora.”
He said the parliamentary visits afforded him the opportunity to explain issues on Boko Haram, the abducted girls and those who were executed.
The minister said he gave insight and government position on farmers/herdsmen clashes, the role of the media and the efforts of the government in revamping the economy.
“At every occasion, we were able to bring to fore the good narratives on the country and what the government had achieved in the last three and half years.
“The kennel of the visit is that we were able to tell the whole world that we do not need to do anything extra because we have delivered on all our promises and Nigerians are quite happy and satisfy with the government,” he said.
Mr Mohammed said the government was aware of the “conspiracy” by disgruntled elements to bring down the administration at all cost.
“This government has actually adversely affected the fortunes of many people who were simply parasite, people who sucked the blood of the nation doing nothing.
“These are people who amassed unexplained wealth just by being agents or consultants to none existence projects.
“We are not surprised by the kind of bitterness and hatred such people has for the government, but they will not succeed,” he said.
The minister stressed that the administration will never be distracted in its policy of zero tolerance for corruption to move the nation forward. (NAN)