The federal government has reacted to the leaked audio tapes in which the minister of transport and director general of the All Progressives Congress’ (APC) presidential council, Mr. Rotimi Amaechi is heard making disparaging remarks about President Muhammadu Buhari and calling for mass killing to make Nigeria better.
In one of the tapes which have been trending in the social and traditional media, the minister is heard saying: “The president does not listen to anybody. He doesn’t care. You can write what you want to write. The president doesn’t care. Does he read? He will read, he will laugh. He will say ‘come, come and see, they are abusing me here’.
“In fact, there was one case of somebody in Onitsha, a trader in Onitsha who couldn’t sell his goats during Sallah. And I was with Oga on the plane and the man was busy abusing Buhari.
He said, ‘Amaechi, come, what is my business with Onitsha goat seller?’”
In another one, Amaechi is heard saying: “This country can never change, I swear. The only way this country can change is if everybody is killed. This country is going nowhere, I swear.
“Even if you divide the country into 10, it will still not change. I’m not joking o. When Magnus (Abe) was my SSG, I told him that this country is hopeless and helpless.
But addressing the media in Abuja yesterday, the minister of information and culture, Mr. Lai Mohammed rubbished the recordings saying the opposition was embarking on what he called “infantile act.”
“The opposition is determined to ensure the ongoing campaign for the 2019 elections is not based on issues but on mudslinging.
“What is the point in shopping around for audio clips or publications that are then maliciously edited out of context? Why do they think this will break our ranks in the ruling party?
“What advantage do they think they can get from this infantile act? Whoever wants to circulate any audio or video clip should do so in its entirety so the people can understand the context. Otherwise, let them continue wasting their time circulating an audio that is clearly designed to blackmail,” he said.
On the controversy about the inspector-general of police, Mr. Ibrahim Idris, who was technically due for retirement on January 3, 2019, after having attained the mandatory age of 35 years in service, while his mandatory retirement age of 60 is due on January 15, 2019, Mohammed said Buhari “is at liberty to extend his tenure.”
Mohammed who also made reference to the extension of the tenures of the inspectors general of police by former presidents Olusegun Obasanjo and his successor, late Umar Yar’Adua without any hue and cry said: “When you are drowning, you grab any floating object you can find. You even grab at straws. That’s what the People’s Democratic party (PDP) is doing with the issue of the inspector general of police’ tenure.
“In the first instance, it is the prerogative of Mr. President to extend or not to extend the tenure of the inspector general of police or any service chief. That prerogative cannot be taken from Mr. President on the altar of paranoia by some people.
“Former President Olusegun Obasanjo, in his time, extended the tenure of Mr. Sunday Ehindero as inspector general of police. Was there no opposition party then? Also, in his time, President Umaru Yar’Ardua extended the tenure of Mr. Mike Okiro as inspector general of police, heavens didn’t fall.”
On the controversy over the appointment of Mrs. Amina Zakari as head of the Independent National Electoral Commission’s (INEC) Collation Centre Committee, the minister said PDP’s protest against the appointment was borne out of a pathological fear of impending political doom.
“Her role is limited to overseeing the physical structure, that is, the International Conference Centre, which is the collation centre for the presidential election.
“The cries of the opposition amount to red herring.
“In targeting Mrs. Zakari, the PDP has forgotten that she was appointed in their time. If she was found worthy then, what has changed now?
“Ahead of the 2019 elections, the PDP has complained against the IG, INEC chairman, Mrs. Amina Zakari, etc., the party is blaming everyone but itself for the sorry state in which it has found itself,” he said.
The minister also lashed out at the opposition for its comments during the military siege to the offices of Daily Trust newspapers saying the issue will be resolved through dialogue.
He said a section of the media and some opposition political parties were demoralising the military and strengthening the insurgents.
“Some opposition political parties have needlessly pilloried the military, under the guise of criticising the federal government over the war against terror.
“Their actions amount to dancing on the graves of the men and women in uniform who have made the supreme sacrifice so that you and I can be safe and secure.
“The military is not a political institution and must not be politicised,” said Mohammed.