In­for­ma­tion min­is­ter Lai Mo­hammed and pres­i­den­tial as­pi­rant Don­ald Duke

The Africa Report - - CONTENTS - Lai Mo­ham mmed In­for­ma­tion min­ist er

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.

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