Lai Mohammed

Buhari Won’t Resign Over Security Challenges – Lai Mohammed

The federal government Thursday launched a pushback against clamour for President Muhammadu Buhari to resign because of the security challenges facing the country.

It said there was no reason for the president to step down because the security challenges were being tackled headlong by his administration.

The Minister of Information and Culture, Alhaji Lai Mohammed, at an interactive meeting with editors in Abuja, urged those calling for the resignation of the president or the sack of security chiefs to be careful at this time so as not to aggravate the security situation with “incendiary comments” that cash in on religious, ethnic and political fault lines to further divide the country.

The president, on his part, at another occasion Thursday in Abuja, said he was conscious of the grave effects of poverty on the family as the fundamental unit of the society, adding that poverty alleviation is key to upholding family values.

The whispering clamour for the president to quit reached a crescendo on January 29, 2020 when Senate Minority Leader, while decrying the high level of insecurity in the country, called on the president to step down immediately for failing to secure the lives of Nigerians since his election in 2015.

Abaribe, who was contributing to a motion entitled ‘Nigerian security challenges: Urgent need to restructure, review and re-organise the current security architecture’, moved by the Senate Leader, Senator Yahaya Abdullahi, and 105 other senators, said Buhari had failed to protect lives and property, which was one of the president’s electoral promises in 2015 and 2019.

Abaribe’s resignation call got backing from the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) and some other Nigerians.

But Mohammed dismissed the calls thursday, saying the president will serve out his tenure.

He said: “To those asking Mr. President to resign, I wish to say this: Mr. President will not resign. He has the overwhelming mandate of Nigerians to preside over the affairs of the country till the expiration of his tenure in May 2023,”

The minister also raised the alarm over what he described as a spike in the dissemination of fake news and the use of disinformation in recent times, saying, this is not accidental.

According to him, fake news, disinformation and hate speech have become the weapons of choice to create tension in the polity and destabilise the country.

“And those behind it, the naysayers, are not about to relent. For some people, the 2019 elections are not over. They are stuck in the pre-election mode. And they must continue to use these weapons to put Nigeria on edge,” he stated.

On efforts to tackle insecurity, the minister said the Buhari-led government had been providing the military and the security agencies with all the resources needed to fight insecurity and also believed in their ability to restore order.

“These challenges will be successfully tackled. I will, however, advise all commentators, especially political and religious leaders, to be very careful at this time not to aggravate the situation with incendiary comments, comments that cash in on our religious, ethnic and political fault lines to further divide us.

“The kind of comments that have been attributed to some leaders, especially religious leaders, are incendiary and reckless. Leaders should be part of solutions to problems, rather than aggravating situations,” he added.

Expressing concern over how fake news could worsen the security challenges, Mohammed stated that the challenges were being aggravated because those behind the fake news and disinformation had also deployed new tactics, top of which is the recycling of old news items and videos.

“A good example is the video of the over 400 young men suspected to be Boko Haram members who were intercepted in Abia State in 2014. About two weeks ago, the video came back into circulation, creating panic in the polity. Their intention is simple: to create tension and panic in the country.

“Other recent instances of fake news: that President Muhammadu Buhari will be travelling to the UK for 20 days before proceeding to Saudi Arabia and Austria; that the Minister of Transportation, Mr. Rotimi Amaechi, was attacked at the Rigasa train station in Kaduna.

“That the Nigerian Air Force killed 250 Boko Haram insurgents and that the Minister of Communications and Digital Economy is planning to unveil some new ‘communication regulations’ aimed at recording all calls, monitoring WhatsApp, Twitter and Facebook, etc. Even private individuals have also been victims of this scourge,’’ the minister said.

While appealing to Nigerians to be circumspect in believing or circulating fake news, the minister said the federal government was pushing ahead with its plan to sanitise the social media by working with stakeholders.

He said the federal government would inaugurate the stakeholders’ committee on March 2 to deliberate and recommend the way forward.

According to the minister, the government is also planning a major international conference that will bring together the tech companies, journalists, policy makers and others as part of efforts to tackle fake news.

“Last week, I met with representatives of Google and Facebook for the same purpose. The situation is dire, and no nation that values its peace, security and stability will allow an irresponsible use of the social media,” he stated.

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