By Ismaila Chafe
President Muhammadu Buhari has said that the Minister of Information and Culture, Alhaji Lai Mohammed, disobeyed him by replying the letter by former President Olusegun Obasanjo against the administration.
This is even as he said that he had stopped his Special Adviser on Media and Publicity Femi Adesina from replying the letter because of Adesina’s age.
The president explained the reasons when members of Buhari Support Organisation visited him at the Presidential Villa, Abuja, on Friday night.
Buhari explained further that the second reason why he deemed right not to reply the letter was that he and the former president were from the same (military) constituency.
He, however, noted that Minister of Information and Culture Lai Mohammed, who “disobeyed’’ him not to reply the letter, did a good job.
He observed that the reply by the minister showed Nigerians the realities on ground when the present administration assumed office in 2015 and its ongoing efforts to revive the inherited damaged economy.
“I really appreciate how you choose this time during Ramadan to come from across the country to see and congratulate me for what we were able to do.
“We were constraint to explain our position when the former head of state wrote a letter; Adesina was agitated and wanted to immediately reply; I stopped him for two reasons; first, he was much younger than me and Gen. Obasanjo.
“Secondly, I am from the same constituent with Gen. Obasanjo; so, I wouldn’t know how it will affect him if I allow him to go wild or to go public, but when Lai Mohammed came, I said he shouldn’t and he insisted. He disobeyed me.
“He said I must allow him to talk; then, of course, being a professionally information person, I listened to him and asked him what are going to say.
“He said he was going to remind Nigerians where we found ourselves when we came in as a government, where we are now, what we have done in between with the resources available to us.
“And I understand he did a good job because a number of people rang me and said Lai Mohammed has done a good job because I went public in several times.
“I said it is on record and I challenged anybody to check from Europe, United States and Asia that between 1999 and 2014 the 16 years of previous administration there was an average of 2.1 million per day of crude oil at the average cost of 100 dollars per barrel,’’ he said.
The president said that he deliberately refused to replace the Governor of Central Bank of Nigeria when his administration took over the mantle of leadership of the country because he wanted to give him the opportunity to salvage the economy from its terrible condition.
Buhari, who thanked his teachers during his primary school days for their efforts to inculcate good morale to him and his mates, stated that his administration would continue to invest heavily in education to correct social ills in the society.
He said further that his administration had resolved to put money in the area of infrastructural development to address infrastructural deficits and subsequently ensure speedy socio-economic transformation of the country.
“It is now that we are struggling to put the structure on the ground — the roads — to revive the rail and do the standard gauge and try to spend objectively on power.
“If we put money in infrastructure, it will create employment opportunities and then Nigerians will mind their own businesses, they wouldn’t even mind what the government is doing once the infrastructure is there,’’ he said.
The president, therefore, reassured Nigerians that his administration would continue to spend more funds to upgrade the nation’s infrastructure.
He said that the government had also expended more than N1.3 trillion on capital projects across the country.
According to him, the government will continue to ensure financial discipline, accountability and effective supervision of its spending to have solid infrastructure to enable the youth to achieve their missions and objectives in life.
He thanked the members of the organisation for their support and sacrifices, noting that none of them had ever made any specific demand from him.
In his remarks, the leader of the organisation, Sen. Abba Ali, who narrated the achievements of the Buhari administration in the last three years, said they were on solidarity visit to the president to further reassure him of their support.
He said that the organisation had established offices in all the 36 states and 774 local government areas of the country, while efforts were being made to ensure the re-election of the president in 2019.
Mrs Paulina Tallen, a member of the Board of Trustees of the organisation, who spoke at the event, assured the president that women would massively vote for him and other candidates of the All Progressives Congress in the 2019 general elections.
She, nonetheless, called on the president to bring more qualified women politicians and professionals in government to address the perceived marginalisation of women by APC-led administration in the country.