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Nigeria Decides: A Drowning Administration Grasps at Straws

Nigeria Decides: A Drowning Administration Grasps at Straws

Being the text of a press conference addressed by the National Publicity Secretary of the All Progressives Congress (APC), Alhaji Lai Mohammed, in Lagos on Wednesday, March 25th 2015

Good afternoon gentlemen and thank you for honouring our invitation to this press conference. It's three days to the presidential and National Assembly elections, and the electioneering campaign is due to end tomorrow, Thursday.

As newsmen yourselves, you are undoubtedly aware that, since this campaign started, the PDP-led Jonathan Administration has dwelt less on issues and more on mudslinging. In particular, it has thrown everything but the kitchen sink at our presidential candidate, Gen. Muhammadu Buhari.

They say he does not have a secondary school certificate, even when the school he attended publicly released his results. They say he is suffering from a terminal disease, even when it was clear that the medical report they used to back that claim was forged. They say he won't be the one to rule, they say he will approve same-sex law, they say he will jail all Nigerians and they say he is a religious bigot. Plus they commissioned and ran the most untruthful and irresponsible documentary ever made, just to demonize him.

When all the muckraking failed, woefully, because the stock of our candidate rose in direct proportion to the mudslinging he was subjected to, they went and commissioned an American media man, Richard Grenell, whom they fraudulently called an ex-US Envoy, to write an uninformed opinion piece that Gen. Buhari would Islamise Nigeria if he is elected.

What an idiotic postulation! Had Mr. Grenell not been in a hurry to earn his pay, he would have engaged in a little logical thinking. A man who, as a military leader with little checks and balances, could have taken Nigeria to the Organization of Islamic Conference (OIC) or introduced the Sharia if he so wished, but did not, could not be characterized as a religious bigot. A man who rose to the lofty height of the rank of a General in the army could not have been a religious bigot, because no religious bigot will reach that height in the military. Of course, no religious bigot will have among his personal staff adherents of a different religion from his, and give them Sundays off so they can go to church!

Out of their desperation, they resorted to lies and frittered away millions of Naira. After commissioning Grenell to write his misleading and unintelligent article, they then went ahead to advertise the trash on the front page of many newspapers for several days, at a huge cost of more than 400 million Naira! There is no better illustration of the idiomatic expression: Grasping at straws! Left with nothing more to use against Gen. Buhari, they held on tight and celebrated what is nothing but trash!

But who indeed is the author of that 419 article? Richard Grenell was never a US Envoy, as they claimed, but a spokesman for a US Ambassador to the UN. Wikipedia listed his occupation as speechwriter and lobbyist. He briefly served as a spokesman to Mitt Romney when he was a Republican presidential candidate, and he was disgraced out of the job! He is a Partner with the Los Angeles-based Capitol Media Partners. He works for his pay, and will work with any government, whether or not it is a global pariah. Mr. Grenell has worked for clients in Iran, Kazakhstan, the Democratic Republic of the Congo, and Somalia, among others. This is the man that was sold to the Nigerian public as a former American Envoy to con them into believing that his opinion represented the thinking in US Government circles. What a monumental scam from a fraudulent administration!

Gentlemen, apart from being fraudulent, this PDP-led Jonathan Administration is also patently wasteful and corrupt! Or how else does one describe an Administration that has been wooing voters with huge bribes?

Never in the history of our country has a President superintended over such a morally-repugnant act as the massive bribery of Nigerians in recent times, especially in the six weeks for which the elections were cunningly postponed. We make bold to say that no President has ever encouraged bribery and corruption as President Goodluck Jonathan has done by ferreting public funds into the pockets of a few in the desperation to woo voters.

What this President has done by wooing voters with money amounts to undermining democracy, an action that is unbecoming of a democratically-elected leader of any country.

According to the information in the public domain, an immense amount of money, some as high as 250,000 dollars per head, was given to traditional rulers, youths, entertainers, market women, ethnic militias and artisans.

If the money being recklessly given away is from the public treasury, the implication is that they want to loot the treasury to such a level that if they lose the elections, the next government will have no money to spend.

If they say the bribe money is not from the public treasury, then where is it from? If the money being nonchalantly frittered away is the President's personal money, where did he get that kind of money from?

To make matters worse, the bribe money has transformed, in the Jonathan Administration's skewed meaning of that word, from Naira to the US dollar, a clear indication that the Administration has lost confidence in the national currency and has nothing but disdain for it.

People are wondering why the Naira, which was exchanging at 160 to the Dollar when the Jonathan Administration assumed office, is now exchanging at an all-time high of 226. Well, apart from the falling price of crude oil in the international market, the reason for the huge depreciation in the value of the national currency is the unprecedented abuse to which it has been subjected by the Jonathan Administration, which apparently is engaging in a frenzied mop-up of the Dollar for bribery purposes.

What the Jonathan Administration did not realize is that it would not have needed to bribe Nigerians to vote for it, if it had spent the past six years engaging in purposeful governance, instead of shameless politicking.

When they should have worked diligently for the betterment of the lives of Nigerians, in accordance with their oath of office, they opted to work for themselves. When they should have served the people, they chose to serve themselves. Now they need the votes of the same people and, having realized they have not served them, they decided to bribe them to get their votes. Nigerians are not stupid, as the Jonathan Administration will soon realize.

Gentleman, recall that on March 21st, our party issued a statement in which we raised the alarm over a plot to arrest some of our leaders,especially Asiwaju Bola Ahmed Tinubu, on trumped-up charges.

Though they rushed to deny it, we have it on good authority that they have not given up on that evil plot. In fact, they have now cast their net wide to ensnare more APC chieftains, including Senator Bukola Saraki, Malam Nasir El-Rufai, Senator Femi Ojudu, Hon Dakuku Peterside, Senator Isiaka Adeleke, Senator Sola Adeyeye, Senator Jajere, Senator Serika Hadi, Senator Jide Omoworare, Hon Nathaniel Agunbiade and Hon Bimbo Daramola.

The plot is to plant ammunition, PVCs and card reader jammers, which they have dubiously acquired, in the residence, office or vehicle of these APC chieftains. The APC chieftains will then be arrested with fanfare and subjected to trumped-up charges.

Now, as Nigerians go to the polls on Saturday, we urge them to do so peacefully but resolutely. Irrespective of the conflicting signals from the police, they should not just vote but stay behind to defend their votes. Recall that the police first said Nigerians should vote and go home, and later reversed itself and said voters may stay back after casting their ballots. This confusion is aimed at confusing them.

As we said earlier, voters should ignore the unlawful order from the Inspector-General of Police urging them to go home after casting their ballots. Voters should rather listen to the INEC Chairman, Prof. Attahiru Jega, who said the electoral law does not state anywhere that voters cannot or should not wait to watch and ensure that their votes are counted. We are therefore urging the electorate to make sure they stay behind to protect their votes after casting their ballots, as was the case in 2011.

On a lighter note, we have received support from unusual quarters on this issue. First Lady Patience Jonathan has also asked Nigerians to ignore the police directive and defend their votes. At least on this issue, we and the First Lady are on the same page!

In conclusion, we have just learnt of the statement by Dr. Fredrick Fasheun of the OPC that he will deploy OPC members to every polling unit across the country to monitor the presidential elections. This is simply outrageous and nonsensical. In the first instance, Dr. Fasheun's party, the UPN, is not even on the ballot because a court has ruled that it cannot contest the elections. Secondly, in what capacity will Dr. Fasheun deploy OPC members to monitor the elections? Is OPC accredited by INEC to monitor the polls? When did ethnic militias become election monitors? This is what President Jonathan has caused by drafting outlaws into the electoral process, all in a desperate bid to win. Now, those who should be in jail are calling the shots on national elections. What an anomaly!

We will like to remind Nigerians that the issues that will shape these elections remain the same: Unemployment, especially among our youths; insecurity of lives and property, as can be seen in the continued disappearance of the Chibok girls and the killing of over 15,000 innocent Nigerians by the terror group Boko Haram; unprecedented corruption, or stealing if you like to use their parlance and dilapidated infrastructure. These issues must not be buried under the avalanche of muckraking and sleazy campaign embarked upon by the PDP-led Jonathan Administration.

We will like to use this opportunity to thank Nigerians for their immense support for our party since the electioneering campaign started. We thank them for conducting themselves in a peaceful manner despite the provocations. We urge them to be extra vigilant in the days ahead, because anti-democratic forces will do everything to thwart the will of the people. Above all, we ask all our members and supporters to be peaceful before, during and after the elections. We say no to violence of any kind, and we are supremely confident that in the end, the will of the people will prevail.

I thank you for listening

Alhaji Lai Mohammed, National Publicity Secretary,
All Progressives Congress (APC), Lagos, March 25th 2015