Nigeria’s Minister of Information and Culture, Lai Mohammed, said President Muhammadu Buhari is healthy enough to seek re-election in 2019.
The minister gave this assurance to after visiting some media organizations in the U.S.
He said the president has done well as there are achievements to prove it.
News Agency of Nigeria reports that Mohammed visited CNN, New York Times, Voice of America, Washington Post, Washington Times; Al Jazeera, Reuters, Wall Journal Street, and the Atlantic Council and the Foreign Relations Council. President Muhammadu Buhari and Lai Mohammed
“I think the exchange has been quite robust. We’ve spoken on a wide range number of issues from security to the economy to the fight against corruption.
“In particular, the interview dwelt more on insecurity and also they were interested to know why the president wants to seek re-election and whether he is fit to run given the concerns about his health.
“Of course, I explained to them that it is those who have a morbid fear about president coming back in 2019 that are flying this kite about his health.
“But his health is very good, since he came back in August, he’s feeling very well, he’s never missed one single Federal Executive Council meeting or cancelled any schedule and his schedules have been very hectic.
“He has faced his presidential duties with vigour, urgency and purpose. Therefore, there’s nothing to fear about his health,”
Mr Mohammed told the correspondent of the News Agency of Nigeria.
According to him, most people have raised the issue of the president’s health, adding many who have raised the issue are not being sincere.
“Mr President, yes was ill, has recovered very well,” the minister stressed adding, “so on the grounds of his health, there’s nothing to fear about his health”.
Mr Mohammed said the president would find his campaign much easier in 2019 because he would campaign on what he has been able to achieve in three years.
“Of course I told them that he’s going to campaign largely about his achievements in the areas of economy, fighting corruption, investing in people and that we are very confident that the people of Nigeria, whose lives has touched, will respond positively.
“And by the time his campaign starts, I think he would have even more to speak about in all the areas he promised during 2015 campaign.
“He can beat his chest and say ‘I have delivered on revamping the economy, I have delivered on fighting insecurity, I have delivered in fighting corruption’.
“He’s only going to consolidate on these things in his second term,” he said.
The Minister of culture and information also slammed critics of the President Muhammadu Buhari-led administration for allegedly distorting facts and whittling the achievements of the administration.
“This trip became important because of the distortion that has been the major past time of a lot of critics and this distortion has sought to whittle the administration’s strive in fighting against insecurity, in revamping the economy and in fighting corruption.
“And it became very important to give this information to the foreign media so that in their editorials, in their comments and when they are writing stories, they would be doing so from the context of the actualities on ground.
“I’m happy to say that many of them have been quite impressed about the achievements of the administration. The think-tanks were very attentive and they took on board a lot of interest and comments”.
“The important thing is that we made them understand that the unfortunate incident of kidnap of the Dapchi schoolgirls and the recent suicide bombings are not reflective of actually the success of the government in fighting Boko Harm.
“When the government says Boko Haram is defeated, it is from the context of what it was when it came in and what we are today.
“People have forgotten that less than three or four years ago, people in Abuja, the Capital City of Nigeria, could not sleep with their two eyes closed.
“That four years ago, the insurgents used to stroll into Abuja at will and no building was sacred to them. I mean they were so bold they attacked the Force Headquarters.
“They attacked the UN headquarters, they attacked newspapers head office, Nyanya Motor Park, was attacked twice and states and towns like Suleja, Kano, Sokoto, Kogi, Borno, were game for them”.
“When we entered Bama in 2015, it was as if we were either in Cairo, Algeria or any of these Arab countries because all the road signs were in Arabic.
“So when we say we have defeated Boko Haram, it is precisely what we mean. Today, night life has returned to Maiduguri, weekly football leagues are being played in Maiduguri, schools have been reopened, roads have been reopened.
“It was a far cry from when we went in 2015 because between Bama and Maiduguri where we went to, there was no singular vehicle on the road.”
On economy, Mr Mohammed said within two quarters, Nigeria came out of recession and ever since, the growth had been phenomenal in terms of foreign exchange which doubled from 23 billion dollars to 47 billion dollars.
“We feed 7.5 million people every day and in the process, creating jobs across the value chain – thousands of cooks in 24 states have been employed.
“Again, our N-Power programme, they’ve never seen this kind of thing in Nigeria before where in one fell sweep, you employed 200,000 university unemployed graduate and another 200,000 have been screened and waiting to start work.
“Our government enterprise and empowerment programme has given out loans to about 200,000 cooperatives and individuals and our conditional cash transfer, today, has fed over 200,000 families.
“So these are the kinds of things we have done at a time when the price of crude oil was not as high as it was in 2011.
“So we have come to tell the world and I’m glad that they’ve been very well received. We were able to give the correct perspective of what the administration has been able to achieve.”
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