The Minister of Information and Culture, Alhaji Lai Mohammed, yesterday accused members of the opposition political parties of working with ‘’hostile foreign intelligence services to undermine’’ the general election.
In a similar vein, the Chief of Army Staff, Lt. General Tukur Buratai, yesterday raised the alarm over plot by ‘’subversive elements’’ in Nigeria, acting in collaboration with some ‘’foreign conspirators’’ to scuttle the poll.
But reacting swiftly to the minister’s allegation, the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), Coalition of United Political Parties (CUPP), the African Democratic Congress (ADC) and the Alliance for New Nigeria (ANN) described it as ‘’a false claim,’’ adding that many Nigerians no longer take the minister seriously.
‘’Lai has lied again,’’ CUPP stated.
Mohammed, who stated this while addressing some editors in Abuja, made reference to ‘’a particular presidential candidate,’’ who he alleged was holding ‘’suspicious meetings with some envoys’’ as part of his plans to instigate them against the outcome of the elections.
Specifically, he claimed that the oppositions are sending a delegation to some Western capitals, including London, Brussels and Washington DC, to push the “concocted line that the Buhari administration has perfected the plan to rig the polls, while pushing for a rejection of the results if the president wins re-election,” saying they are also predicting carnage in the event of the president’s victory.
“He (the presidential candidate) is doing this because he has seen the hand writing on the wall; that he will be defeated; they are very desperate,’’ the federal government’s spokesman added.
The minister recalled how on January 21 this year he alerted the nation, also via a press conference, to the plot by some opposition elements to scuttle the 2019 general election by instigating widespread violence across the country, basing his alarm on ‘’credible intelligence.’’
According to him, ‘’We revealed that the plan to scuttle the polls is part of moves to push the nation into a constitutional crisis, with the plotters hoping they can leverage on that to push for an interim government. When we raised the alarm, the opposition dismissed it. Of course they were shocked to have been found out, so we understand their panic reaction.
‘’To underscore the seriousness of our alert, a week after our press conference, the National Security Adviser (NSA) met with state governors to also inform them of this same plan to scuttle the polls via widespread violence. As I said at my last press conference, the alarm we raised is based on credible intelligence.
‘’Today, still based on credible intelligence, we can reveal that the opposition is moving a step further. They are working hard to discredit the forthcoming election before, during and after the polls.
‘’Specifically, they are sending a delegation to some Western capitals, including London, Brussels and Washington, DC, to push the concocted line that the Buhari administration has perfected the plan to rig the polls. They are therefore pushing for a rejection of the results if the president wins re-election. They are also predicting carnage in the event of the president’s victory.’’
He accused the opposition of engaging in ‘’incendiary rhetoric and in making outlandish claims’’ using several fronts, including the Coalition of United Political Parties (CUPP) which, describing it as nothing more than a ‘’reincarnated Association for Better Nigeria (ABN)’’ that played suspicious roles in the failed 1993 political transition process.
The minister said that the oppositions are targeted, for attack, the two key institutions that are most critical to the success of the election: the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) and the police by using every ‘’malleable and malicious’’ personality to make wild allegations against INEC.
He said: ‘’Their strategy is simple: Discredit the election even before it is held, and continue during and after the polls with a view to convincing the West – which they believe they have won to their side using lobbyist-propelled propaganda – that the election is not credible.
‘’Some may ask: why would the opposition go to this length? The answer is simple: They know, and are convinced, that they cannot win free, fair, credible and peaceful polls. The handwriting is on the wall for all discerning people to see.
‘’While President Buhari has received warm and genuine reception and adulation from huge crowds everywhere he has gone to campaign, their candidate has been exposed to apathetic and thinning crowds! Their numbers just don’t add up.’’
He reiterated the president Buhari’s commitment to ensuring a free, fair and violence-free election, adding that he has no doubt that based on testimonies of change from Nigerians, the achievements of his administration, in the three cardinal areas of fighting corruption, revamping the economy and fighting insecurity, will speak for him at the polls.
The federal government called on all Nigerians to be vigilant as the nation begins the final countdown to the elections, saying that ‘’eternal vigilance, as the saying goes, is the price of liberty; we must not allow desperate politicians to crash our democracy on the altar of their personal – and sometimes inordinate – ambition!’’
Army Chief Orders Clampdown on IPOB
Meanwhile, the Chief of Army Staff, Lt. Gen. Buratai, has ordered an immediate clampdown on the Indigenous People of Biafra (IPOB), whom he accused of threatening to scuttle the election.
The army chief ordered the General Officers Commanding (GOCs), Brigade Commanders in the South-east geopolitical zone to immediately clampdown on IPOB, warning army officers against according undue advantage or receiving any inducement from politicians in the course of the election.
Speaking at the Chief of Army Staff Operations Conference attended by GOCs and Brigade Commanders at the Headquarters Army Officers Mess, Asokoro, Abuja, Buratai said the army was in possession of intelligence information about subversive plot by some groups aided by foreign conspirators to scuttle the poll.
He said, “Let me at this point state that we have information of subversive motives by some unpatriotic groups aided by foreign conspirators to scuttle the peaceful conduct of the 2019 general elections in some parts of the country.
“We hereby warn such detractors to immediately mend their ways. The Nigerian Army is working closely with the Nigeria Police and other security agencies to ensure an enabling environment for the good citizens of our dear country to exercise their civic rights.
“In this regard, GOCs and field commanders at all levels are to deal decisively with any form of security breach.”
The army chief said the activities of IPOB were gathering momentum and must be halted.
He added, “The activities of the outlawed Indigenous People of Biafra (IPOB) and their splinter groups in the South-eastern part of the country is gaining momentum as the group is threatening to disrupt the 2019 electoral process. Their excesses must therefore be clamped down immediately.”
Buratai warned army officers and those expected to provide support to civil authorities during the election to desist from any form of inducement and avoid giving undue advantage to any group or political party.
PDP, CUPP, ADC, ANN: It’s False Alarm
The Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), the African Democratic Congress (ADC) and the Alliance for New Nigeria (ANN) have described the allegation by the minister as false, adding that the spurious allegation would not stop the impending defeat of Buhari and his party in the coming elections.
One of the spokespersons of the PDP, Mr. Kassim Afegbua, said that the moment a government surrenders to outsiders, it confirms the party’s position that the government has outlived its usefulness and become incompetent to manage the country’s collective aspirations.
He added that the primary responsibility of any government as enshrined in the 1999 Constitution is the protection of lives and properties, stressing that once the government fails in such constitutional responsibility, it surrenders its moral responsibility to preside over the affairs of the nation.
Afegbua stated: “When you hear the ruling party shouting like this, just know that it is what they are plotting to do; but because of our serious monitoring, they are unable to execute their nefarious plot.
“We are happy that they are the underdogs in this election. And that also is indicative of the poor performance in the last four years. They will naturally be looking for lame excuses to justify their total defeat in next week’s election.
“Nigerians have made a loud statement, which has further been loudly echoed and stamped by the different socio-cultural groups that the Atiku presidency will help to build national cohesion and unity.”
Afegbua added that the minister wants to divert attention away from what is about to happen to Buhari and APC in the coming elections with this nebulous claim following the endorsement of Atiku by the different groups nationwide, saying that Nigerians have become familiar with their pranks and propaganda.
“It won’t work in this election. President Buhari would be defeated next week and thereafter we will commence the process of reinventing a Nigerian nation with equal opportunities for all,” he added.
Also reacting, the National Publicity Secretary of ADC, Mrs. Yemi Kolapo, said that the minister should not be taken serious.
According to her: “Nobody should take Lai Mohammed serious at this time. He is just echoing what they are preparing for in their clueless camp. The same international security agencies were the ones that made sure that 2015 went on smoothly. So what is his point?”
On his part, the National Publicity Secretary of ANN, Mr. Akinloye Oyeniyi, said though on a normal note, the allegation should be a worrisome one, but coming again like many others from Mohammed, one thing is certain and that is: the allegation of some hostile international security agencies working with the opposition to rig the outcome of the 2019 presidential election is a pure lie.
He stated: “This is a government that have not only converted all national security agencies into its political security arm against all real and perceived oppositions, but going around campaigning with the citizens and governors of Zinder and Maradi from Niger Republic.
‘’We have heard so many from the outgoing government, but the good people of Nigeria already are aware all these are last kicks of a dying horse which will neither stop its death nor inflict any injury on anything around its spot.
“Like we always advise, the outgoing government should know that it is now a fish out of water, it should stop heating up the polity but concerned itself for the remaining days preparing its handover note. Nigerians gave them the power in 2015 and same Nigerians have decided to take it back from them by February 16th, so why the false alarm.”
Speaking in the same vein, the CUPP described the allegation as outright false, outrageous, baseless and clear sign of someone being tormented by guilty conscience and defeat syndrome.
According to the coalition’s spokesperson, Ikenga Ugochinyere, APC’s ranting is clear sign of imminent defeat.
“Buhari and his cohorts’ ranting is a clear sign of imminent devastating defeat. They already know Atiku Abubakar will win in a free and fair election come February 16, so they are coming up with all sorts of lies to hide their fear.
“Buhari is scared of international community because of consequences of his exposed plot to rig the election, using security and aliens from Chad and Niger.
‘’They have realised that Atiku will crack them like cracker biscuit, hence the reason for this allegation so as to divert attention from their plot to foist huge electoral robbery”, CUPP added.
He further advised Mohammed to stop lying through his teeth and face the impending defeat of their ‘’worthless government’’, adding that the opposition will not accept any electoral robbery.
He denied any plotting to use international intelligence agencies to manipulate outcome of elections, adding that the opposition also will not be fooled or stand by and watch ‘’the APC’s evil plans’’ come to pass.
CUPP said the current crisis in Venezuela would be a child’s play if Buhari attempts to manipulate the 2019 elections.