Lawyer, administrator and politician, Alhaji Lai Mohammed is the National Publicity Secretary of the All Progressives Congress, APC. In this interview with newsmen in Lagos, he reviews developments in the polity following the postponement of the general elections. Excerpts:
By Emmanuel Aziken, Political Editor
WHy did you have a secret meeting with the INEC chairman, Prof. Attahiru Jega as alleged by President Jonathan’s campaign spokesman, Femi Fani-Kayode?
To answer your question, nothing like that happened. People like Fani-Kayode, they make statements and nobody cares to see whether it is true or not. I believe we should be able to ask him: where in Dubai did the meeting take place? Which leadership of the party met in Dubai?
But he said he was not going to release any more information.
Because he doesn’t have any. If he has that information, knowing him very well, he would have wanted it published.
So if you look at those people who are fighting hardest for PDP, they are fighting for their lives not for the country: the sons of two former chairmen of the PDP are involved in oil subsidy scam and his campaign spokesman has a case with the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC). So, all these people are only protecting themselves and they would do anything to ensure that President Jonathan wins this election. That is what they prefer. There is no way these people will want a change of government, because they know what is in store for them. It was not we that took them to court, it was Jonathan administration’s EFCC that took them to court.
Given your position and in view of what the president’s assertion a few days, haven’t that changed your perception about election holding?
There is no way I would believe anything Jonathan says. Absolutely not possible. You all watched the tape on Ekiti rigging. These are the same people that came out to say that the Ekiti election was free and fair and trying to justify that it is only when APC loses elections that they complain. After what I saw in Ekiti, in that tape, I don’t believe Mr. President one bit.
You heard what Senator Musiliu Obanikoro, then serving as Minister of State for Defence, said in the audio. He said ‘we are not here for a tea party, I have been sent by Mr. President.’ And Fayose said in this election, I am Jonathan. So, Mr. President assures who? No way.
Obanikoro has sued; he is contesting the matter in court.
Obanikoro can sue anybody he wants to sue. Look, we are not idiots. If you wake me up in the middle of the night, I know Obanikoro’s voice.
Some people felt if Ekiti election had been rigged, there would have been violence.
Look, that election was rigged so clinically that there could not be any protest. You heard and you saw that each tactical commander was given explicit instruction to go to each local government and work for the PDP. They did three things: one mass arrest of our leaders before and during election. Do you know what it means when you arrest leaders of the party? It means the man who has the resources to even pay agents and also mobilise is out. They were also given specific instruction to work for the PDP.
Are you going to take this to the tribunal?
You see it might be late for the Tribunal thing, but from now we will still go to court to say that this election was not conducted properly and that will be bottom line, but surely the military connived. What is going to happen is that this will help us in 2015 elections that we would not allow this kind of thing to happen. Those military men that compromised in the film have done great disservice to the military.
Do you regret that this kind of audio or film is coming very, very late after the Ekiti election?
We don’t regret it. I think they have come at a good time. You see, don’t forget that the man who made this video is not a member of APC. He made the video and he confessed that when he decided to join the military, he didn’t expect to be used like this. And he asked and he said no single officer were happy about it.
How has the postponement affected you plans?
Clearly, the intention of the Jonathan administration in postponing the election is to create chaos and create an atmosphere where elections would not hold at all, but we thank God that they are disappointed. I think the reaction of our party and our presidential candidate appealing for calm above all must have shocked them immensely. We thank God that postponement has annoyed more people and they have lost more supporters than they thought they would gain.
Thirdly, I wouldn’t pretend, it would affect us because one, we now have to look for more money; two, it would now give opportunity to continue with their smear campaign. It would also allow them to perfect their rigging plans, that is why you see the deployment of soldiers to some duties, but I can assure you, if anybody takes the poll between last Saturday and today, I can assure you that APC has gone higher in the rating and PDP has gone down.
Yes, the intentions were to derail us and ensure they arrest our momentum, but unfortunately, what they have done was to postpone their funeral; you can’t wake up a dead man. What we would do is to make the best of a bad situation within the six weeks to gain more ground and acceptance everywhere.
But critics have accused you of hypocrisy as you have also postponed local government election in Lagos.
Did they ever conduct LG election in Anambra? What are they talking about?
But it doesn’t make right.
No, no excuse me, what does the law say. What does the law say about council election? It is a state law.
What would you do if those after Buhari get a judge to get disqualify him.
Nobody should toy with the fate of this country because the consequences would be too dire. Not all the people that are chanting change, change belong to APC?
Ethnic and religious lines
One thing that this government has succeeded in doing is in dividing Nigeria along ethnic and religious lines and it is very sad and it will take a long time to close these lines.
This man should understand that his tenure whether it is four or eight years would come and pass, but he has a date with history and he should be careful not to be the last president of united Nigeria. He should be careful not to be the last president of peaceful Nigeria. He met us united and he has divided Nigeria completely.
There is nothing he has touched, is it the economy, is it the military, is it the judiciary, name it that he has not destroyed. Look at the military today, look at the economy today, look at the judiciary today.
On electricity, he met 3, 440 megawatts, what we have today after trillions of naira had been spent is 3,700 and you tell us he has dismantled NEPA. Have we gotten more electricity supply?
And look at corruption, are we talking about N245 billion pension scam, N2.6 trillion oil subsidy scam or $20 billion scam and they now said they have reconciled the account and it is $1.43 billion. Where did it go?