The Minister of Information and Culture, Lai Mohammed, said on Wednesday that President Muhammadu Buhari was neither favouring nor disfavouring any presidential candidate ahead of the February 25 election.
The minister stated this after the weekly Federal Executive Council meeting when reacting to a statement by the Kaduna State Governor, Nasir El-Rufai, that some elements in Aso Rock were working against the victory of the presidential candidate of the ruling All Progressives Congress.
The PUNCH reported that El-Rufai alleged that some “elements” in Aso Rock were working against Tinubu’s emergence as President.
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El-Rufai, who spoke on a Channels Television breakfast programme, Sunrise Daily, explained that the persons in question were aggrieved that Tinubu defeated their candidate in the June 2022 APC presidential primary.
He cited the naira redesign policy as one of several schemes targeted at the APC presidential candidate, Tinubu, who also made a similar claim a week earlier.
According to El-Rufai, “I believe there are elements in the Villa that want us to lose the election because they didn’t get their way; they had their candidate. Their candidate did not win the primaries.
“They are trying to get us to lose the election, and they are hiding behind the President’s desire to do what he thinks is right. I will give two examples: this petroleum subsidy, which is costing the country trillions of Naira, was something that we all agreed would be removed.
“In fact, I discussed with the President and showed him why it had to go. Because how can you have a capital budget of N200b for federal roads and then spend N2 Trillion on petroleum subsidy? This was a conversation I had with the President in 2021 when the subsidy thing started rising. He was convinced. We left. It changed. Everyone in the government agreed, and it changed.
“The second example I will give is this currency redesign. You have to understand the President. People are blaming the Governor of the Central Bank for the currency redesign, but No. You have to go back and look at the first outing of Buhari as President.
“He did this; the Buhari-Idiagbon regime changed our currency and did it in secrecy with a view to catching those that are stashing away illicit funds. It is a very good intention. The President has his right. But doing it at this time within the allotted time does not make any political or economic sense.”
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Reacting, the information minister said Buhari was focused on delivering free and fair elections to Nigerians and not disfavouring or favouring any candidate in the election.
He said, “On a more serious note, one thing I can assure you is that, no matter who, this administration is focused and determined to ensure a free and fair election. And I think this administration, and for that matter now, the most important person in this regard is Mr. President.
“I think he has shown by words and deed that he is committed to a free, fair and credible election. And fair, free and credible elections mean not favouring or disfavouring anybody.”
Mohammed further said that Buhari makes it clear everywhere he goes that he is committed to a free, fair and credible election, adding that the Presidency is not “officially aware” of anyone in the Aso Rock who is working against the emergence of Tinubu as President in the February 25 election.
He said, “Everywhere he goes, he makes that very clear, even as recently as Friday, when he was in Daura. He said the same thing. So if there’s anybody who’s working against any candidate, we don’t know officially.”