By Soni Daniel, Northern Region Editor
•Face-off between Daily Trust, military to be resolved by dialogue —FG
•Says service chiefs, IGP’s tenure at Buhari’s discretion as OBJ, GEJ did
•Insists only criminals afraid of ‘Operation Python Dance’
ABUJA—Information Minister, Lai Mohammed, yesterday asked the Peoples Democratic Party and its presidential candidate, Atiku Abubakar, to leave President Muhammadu Buhari and his family alone and focus their attention on how to salvage their campaigns, which he said was at the verge of collapse.
According to the minister, it is unbecoming of the opposition to divert attention from issues and raise false and unsubstantiated issues against Buhari and his family while deceiving Nigerians that their campaigns would be issue-based.
Mohammed said: “I understand this is part of the PDP’s Dubai Agenda: Throw enough mud at the President and hope they can succeed in tainting his integrity. That is not happening and it won’t happen. The sooner the PDP realizes this and retrace its steps, the better. President Buhari is globally acknowledged for his legendary integrity, and no one can tarnish it.
“When its allegations were proved to be wrong, those behind the shameless allegation didn’t even have the decency to admit their lies and apologize to the nation. This is bad politicking and it will not win more votes for the sinking PDP.
“It is sad that instead of focusing on issues, all they spew are innuendos, lies and concocted stories. The Atiku campaign in particular has lost steam, and all it does now is to make wild allegations not backed by facts.”
Mohammed, who spoke at a media briefing in his office in Abuja, also disclosed that the face-off between Daily Trust Newspaper and the military would be resolved amicably through dialogue,
He said that it would not be helpful to aggravate the matter as opposition had been doing by latching on the matter.
“The media must be able to balance freedom of the press and national security. The media does not need a lecture in that given the role it played to bring about democracy and freedom,” he said.
The minister described as unnecessary the furore over the appointment of Amina Zakari as the coordinator of the Collation Centre for the presidential results, describing it as nothing but sheer hysteria by the PDP which knows that it will lose the next election and is merely looking for excuses.
According to Mohammed Nigerians should be satisfied with the explanation by INEC that Zakari is not the retuning officer for the presidential election but will only be overseeing the Collation Centre and the statement by her family that she is not a blood relation of Buhari.
‘’The pieces of information being sold to the press about Mrs. Amina Zakari by the PDP are absolutely false, tendentious, malicious and highly reprehensible. In targeting Mrs Zakari, the PDP has forgotten that she was appointed in their time. If she was found worthy then, what has changed now?
“Ahead of the 2019 elections, the PDP has complained against the IG, INEC Chairman, Mrs. Amina Zakari, etc. the party is blaming everyone but itself for the sorry state in which it has found itself. The PDP’s campaign has floundered. Very soon the PDP will call a press conference to blame its own presidential candidate for the party’s failed campaign. That’s what you get from an opposition that lacks focus or direction, an opposition that says it wants issue-based campaign but throws mud at everyone.
On the leaked Amaechi’s tape, the minister scolded the PDP, saying the party was determined to ensure that the ongoing campaign for the 2019 elections is not based on issues but on mudslinging.
He queried: “What is the point in shopping around for audio clips or publications that are then maliciously edited out of context? Why do they think this will break our ranks in the ruling party? What advantage do they think they can get from this infantile act?
“Whoever wants to circulate any audio or video clip should do so in its entirety so the people can understand the context. Otherwise, let them continue wasting their time circulating an audio that is clearly designed to blackmail.”
On the call by the opposition on Buhari not to extend the tenure of the Inspector General of Police, the minister said it was the prerogative of Buhari to do and that he owes the complainants any explanations since both former presidents Olusegun Obasanjo and Yar’Adua also extended the tenure of their IGPs without any query from any quarter.
Mohammed said, “When you are drowning, you grab any floating object you can find. You even grab at straws.”