Information minister Lai Mohammed and presidential aspirant Donald Duke
This government has a track record, and our people recognise that. I have not lost a night’s sleep over the 2019 elections. There is a lot of talk about defections, but I don’t see a credible new force in the making. You cannot compare the political situation today with that of 2015. Then there was a newly merged entity – consisting of strong parties in the south-west, the north-east and the north-west as well as defectors from the ruling People’s Democratic Party (PDP). And, critically, we had a charismatic leader in the shape of Muhammadu Buhari. I don’t see that in the opposition ranks today.
I don’t see any political party that would merge with the PDP and challenge us. We have a government that leads with a track record on security. We inherited a situation in which Boko Haram controlled territory the size of Lebanon. Even Abuja was not safe. The UN and This Day newspaper in the capital were bombed. Whether or not the Islamic State-linked affiliate to Boko Haram is dominant or not, we think its aim is to hold territory and not just to do hit-and-run attacks. The government is up and doing. We are determined to clear the Sambisa Forest, which Boko Haram is using as its rear base. Nowhere in the world do you see a government that is able to completely eradicate terrorist attacks. Normalcy is slowly returning to the north-east. In Maiduguri, banks and schools have been repaired and are reopening. Apart from Borno State, there are no internally displaced people’s camps. The herdsmen-farmer clashes have multiple causes: demographic; environmental; and fallout from the overthrow of Libya’s Muammar Gaddafi. Sixty years ago Nigeria had less than 45 million people; today it is 190 million. So there is economic scarcity. Part of that is the far higher demand for grazing land. People recognise that our anti-corruption strategy is working. Over 1,000 cases are being investigated currently by the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission […]. It’s not true that we’re just targeting opposition politicians. For 16 years, just one political party, the PDP, had exclusive access to executive power. And it looted the treasury, so logically more PDP politicians will face prosecution. We also respect the constitution. This government believes in the separation of powers. The police have investigated political violence in Kwara State and have arrested some individuals who are making accusations against senior politicians. That is legitimate. They have the right to call those individuals for questioning. We would encourage all parties to cooperate. We have implemented structural reforms and improvements in doing business. For example, the single treasury account
“Nowhere in the world do you see a government that is able to completely eradicate terrorist attacks”
system has helped us fight corruption. We have weeded out the ghost workers at the federal level and now we have to do the same with the state governments. We have set up efficiency units in the ministries to focus better on implementation and inter-agency cooperation. We are doing much more due diligence on procurement and other contracts.