The Federal Government says former President Olusegun Obasanjo’s endorsement will not save the People’s Democratic Party’s presidential candidate, Atiku Abubakar, from defeat in the 2019 general elections.
Information Minister Lai Mohammed, in an interaction with journalists in Abuja yesterday, was reacting to a statement credited to Obasanjo that he could not be neutral about the 2019 polls when the country was being destroyed with “incompetence, corruption, brazen impunity and denial of the obvious”.
The minister said while it is Obasanjo’s constitutional right to support any candidate for an election, his (Obasanjo’s) candidate “will be defeated roundly and comprehensively’’.
Mohammed said, “With due respect to former President Obasanjo, it is his constitutional right to support any candidate of his choice and we urge him to go out and campaign vigorously for any candidate he wants to support.
“He has not hidden his preference for the PDP candidate, Alhaji Atiku Abubakar, and we wish him very best of luck. However, I want to assure you that his candidate will be defeated roundly and comprehensively. It is not about endorsement, endorsement does not win election.”
On the allegation that Nigeria was being destroyed with “incompetence, corruption, lack of focus, insecurity, nepotism and brazen impunity’’, the minister said for the former president to have made such a conclusion, he was not properly briefed about the development in the country. He said the present administration had devised various institutional remedies to fight corruption.
“The facts are all there that this government has done more than any other governments in three and a half years.
“It is not about putting people in jail, but what are the things put in place to address this endemic problem. Take the example of Treasury Single Account (TSA), which was not initiated by this government. It is only the Buhari administration that has the political will to implement it.
“Before we came in, there were over 22,000 government accounts in various banks. Since we came, we reduced it to one account and from 2015 to date N8.9 trillion has passed through the TSA which is as a result of transparency and accountability,’’ Mohammed said.
The minister said President Muhammadu Buhari would decide if he “wants to attend the presidential debate or not”, adding that “but I think the president today has a cabinet and they go out every day to debate and discuss issues like I am doing now.”
On the reported freezing of the account of the PDP’s presidential running mate Peter Obi, he said the federal government, in line with its anticorruption strategy, sought to ensure that justice was not perverted or compromised by persons involved in corruption cases.