Alhaji Lai Mohammed, the information minister, is always ready with answers to every inquiry about the government of President Muhammadu Buhari. NAIJ.com’s Eromosele Ebhomele was with some journalists at the Ikeja area of Lagos when the minister showed up unexpectedly and as usual, he gave responses to questions relating to the defection of Bukola Saraki, the president of the Senate, as well as other issues
- Lai Mohammed reveals that the defection plan by Bukola Saraki was hatched the very day he became president of the Senate
- Mohammed also discloses the reason why Saraki made Ike Ekweremadu the deputy Senate president
- The minister declares that against Saraki’s claim, 26 people were appointed from Kwara by Buhari and that Saraki nominated 24 of them
How has the APC fared since the mass defection from the National Assembly sir?
Today, in Sokoto, what is the electoral value of those who have decamped? You see, for you to properly understand these defections, I think we need to look at the context under which it happened.
The foundation for the defection was laid the moment and the day Dr Bukola Saraki emerged as the Senate president against the wishes of the political party. That's the beginning of the very turbulent relationship between the executive and the legislature. In all democracies, when the party controls the majority in the House, it determines who is the leader either in the Senate or in the House of Representatives. But Saraki actually went against the wishes of the party by lobbying the opposition PDP to become the Senate president.
Since then, we had very turbulent dispensation. As a matter of fact, we would not have suffered more at the executive in the hands of the legislators if a PDP person had been the Senate president. And people did not see the significance of the emergence of Ekweremadu as the deputy Senate president as an assurance that in the event of his (Saraki's) impeachment as Senate president, he would be succeeded by the PDP. I think this is the reason for you to look at all these happenings as based on betrayal. But in all these, the party remains solid, we have no cause to be unnecessarily worried. Yes, we appreciate that in politics, we don't want to lose anybody, but it is better to have a loyal, trim team than to have disloyal, undisciplined and treacherous team.
As time goes on, we would see true members of the APC who believe in what the party stands for remain. Honestly, we can believe that what happened, yes, they made some noise and a lot of razzmatazz, but when it comes to real electoral value, APC remains the party.
How do you react to the allegation that contrary to the equal spread of political offices, juicy positions went to Katsina and Lagos without a consideration for Kwara state?
I have a list of 26 people who are given appointments and out of this, I only nominated two while the remaining 24 were nominated by him. So what kind of lie is that? I have the list... 24 people. Ambassadorial posts were given to Kwara state. So it is not true. Also, this thing about some offices being juicy and some not juicy, if you are appointed to lead an office, it is service we are asking for. If you are appointed as a minister or as a CEO to lead an organisation, we want you to help us improve the country, not to share the resources available. If you say some organisations are juicy and some are not, it is because you are going there with the intention of stealing.
You see what has happened with JAMB. When you have honest, patriotic and highly sophisticated leader in charge, for the first time, JAMB is returning money. So it is not true that a particular part of the country is being favoured against the other. I challenge anybody to check the list of appointments under this government and you would be pleasantly surprised.
How would you react to reports that Senator Godswill Akpabio may be defecting to your party?
I welcome it. Like I say again, politics is local because some people who have left us, actually left for personal reasons at times. As a member of the Senate or House of Representatives, you are probably representing four, five or six local governments and in these local governments, there is always an unwritten agreement as to which local government or electoral district would produce candidates. Many of them actually agreed before they came, but now, they want to renege and that is the problem many of them are facing at home. And since they defected, many of them could not go back home. Since they say politics is a game of numbers, of course we welcome the defection of the minority leader and as we say, it is a one-one goaless draw.
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We also learnt Akpabio is being positioned as the Senate president....
That I don't know.
NAIJ.com earlier reported that the presidency on Sunday, August 5, appealed to the National Assembly (NASS) to reconvene as urgent matters pending before it may affect the running of Nigeria and matters affecting Nigerians.
The appeal was made by the senior special adviser to the president on National Assembly matters, Senator Ita Enang at a news conference in Lagos.
Nigeria News 2018: Buhari Reacts To APC Senators’ Betrayal | Naij.com TV