No substitute for President Buhari – Lai Mohammed

Lai Mohammed, minister of information and culture, says there can be no substitute for President Muhammadu Buhari.

In an interview some journalists, Mohammed said though Buhari is missed, his absence has not crippled or interfered with the smooth running of the country.

Buhari has been out of the country for 91 days. He is currently in the UK receiving medical attention for an undisclosed ailment.

This has attracted widespread criticisms, with human rights activists challenging the presidency to make public the details of the health of the number one citizen.

A coalition of civil society groups has also asked Buhari to return to the country or resign.

But Mohammed said there was no need for the agitations concerning the president’s health and absence.

“There is no doubt that we miss the president but I think the government has been functioning very well,” Mohammed said.

“There can’t be a substitute for the president, no doubt but I don’t think it has gotten to any stage whereby we find the kind of acrimony, agitations that is coming up.

“It is normal for anybody to be ill. When somebody is ill, there are certain things he cannot do but we thank God that Mr. President is improving and he will come back very soon.

“The important thing is that government has been working. We have not missed one single federal executive council meeting since he left.

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“Also, we have not missed one single national economic council meeting. Whatever needs to be done is being done because there are serious consultations between the Acting president and Mr President and as such, I don’t see the hoopla about Mr. President being away.

Reacting to the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) claim that the All Progressives Congress (APC) is the harbinger of hate speeches in the country, Mohammed said the opposition party was only being partisan.

He said people misquote and attack him in a bid to cripple the government.

“It’s a pity that the PDP is not looking at this matter from a patriotic perspective. They are only looking at it from the partisan perspective which does not allow them to get the message we are sending out,” he said.

“The message we are sending out is that it is because there is a country called Nigeria that is why there are political parties and that is also why we have media houses and journalists.

“The moment there is instability in the polity, then we are all at risk. On our own part, we are not politicising anything. All we are saying is that empirical evidence shows that there has been a rise in hate speeches, fake news and misrepresentations in the last couple of years and that it is these hate speeches and fake news that has been fuelling disunity as well as destabilising the polity.

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“We never attributed it to the PDP. Anybody out there will know that these hate speeches are aimed at destabilising the polity and distracting the government.

“I do not see how anybody can say either President Muhammadu Buhari or the APC is sponsoring hate speeches. But like I said, PDP should not take this issue personal, but see it from a patriotic point of view.

“Our appeal is that those who are sponsoring these hate speeches should desist because the consequences are better imagined.

“I was the face of the APC while in opposition and I believe that many of these people have not forgiven me for the role God made me play in that change. I am also the spokesperson of the federal government, so their belief is that if you want to cripple the government, then attack the spokesperson.”

Mohammed further said he was confident that the gap between the executive and legislature will be bridged, saying “we have the mechanism to resolve them.”

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