The minister of Information and Culture, Alhaji Lai Mohammed, has given reasons why he would not be contesting in the forthcoming general elections in Kwara State.
Speaking yesterday, during a life programme on NTA, Ilorin, which was monitored by our correspondent, Alhaji Mohammed said the current position conferred on him as the leader of the All Progressives Congress (APC) in the state, technically makes him not an aspirant.
He explained that with the responsibility of coordinating the party, it would be wrong for him to contest with the people he ought to be coordinating.
According to him: “Why I am not contesting election in Kwara State. I am the most senior surviving member of my party in this government from Kwara State as a result of the Tsunami that took place and unfortunately, my state happened to be the epicentre of that rebellion.
“If I now want to be the honest broker, I must be above board, I must not be seen contesting with those I want to lead, or those that look up to me. I can’t be fighting for the same thing they are looking for.
“Therefore, if I have an intention of contesting for any position, the circumstances of today have completely ruled me out because if I am today, expected to coordinate and rebuild the party in Kwara State, I do not need to be distracted and unqualified for such a role if I am also seeking to run. I have to disqualify myself.”
The minister, who was positive about the chances of his party in the general elections, however, expressed fears about the effect of fake news and hate speech.
He noted that fake news remains a great threat to next year’s poll.
“The greatest danger of 2019 general elections will be fake news and hate speech.
“Also, the greatest threat to the corporate existence of Nigeria will be fake news,” he said.
While admitting that fake news and hate speech have been with us for ages, he however noted that both have played negative roles in human development.
“Over centuries, fake news and hate speeches have played negative roles in human development. No part of the globe is safe from fake news, it is a global concern.
“Our concern is that the purveyors of fake news have taken advantage of technology to spread fake news.
The danger is that it can set one nation and another group against another or one religion against another, which is why we launched the campaign.
“We must make it clear that in our fight against fake news, we will not resort to censorship, even though, it is happening in some parts of the world.
“We urge people to subject every story to some tests, the authenticity of the source.
The believability is what bothers us about fake news.
“We need the media to partner with us.
Together, we are thinking of having a workshop on fake news. At the end of the day, even the media may be the worst hit of fake news.”
On proliferation of political parties, the minister said, “Unless we amend the law to empower INEC to make stringent laws to regulate the proliferation, I am sure INEC will still come up with a guideline.”
On the chances of his party at the 2019, he said “it will be a walkover for APC
I am saying this because I am the minister of Information because I know Nigerians to be very wise people, Nigerians know that this government is working.”
He also added, “One of the major challenges we are facing is that we have refused to put money in individuals’ pockets, rather we have resolved to make sure that whatever resource is available to this government, will be used for the benefit of Nigerians.
“You can see what the infrastructure projects we are doing across the country can do in the people’s lives and economy.
As a political party, we can campaign on issues.
“We can say, this is the number of people employed, inflation has fallen for 18 consecutive times.
“Nigerian Stock Exchange has been rated as one of the best six performing in the world.
“Under this administration, we have seen the completion of projects.
“We inherited so many projects because we believe that government is a continuum.
“Some of these projects were started before we came in but were stalled, either as a result of lack of funding or incompetence.
“We resolved that no infrastructure would suffer lack of funding, that is why we set up a Presidential Infrastructure Funding of N91bn to ensure no project suffers because of funding. We also took N100bn Sukuk Fund, which was shared at N16.6bn each for each of the six geopolitical zones for 25 critical projects and is being funded by the Sukuk fund.”
On government’s efforts to address the herders/farmers’ clashes, he said, “Today, the clashes between herdsmen and farmers have reduced because of the proactive measures this government has taken, including the setting up of 16 new mobile police units, new military platforms.
“Today, we thank God the killings have reduced. Unfortunately, this is not reported.
“What we saw that happened between farmers and herdsmen today, has nothing to do with religion and ethnicity. 70 per cent of prison inmates in Kebbi State are mostly Fulanis.
“The feedback we are getting is that our trip to US has paid off, we must make people to act in the right perspective.
We have discovered that our detractors take to fake news and hate speech when they do not see what to use to counter us.”
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