The Minister of Information and Culture, Alhaji Lai Mohammed, has said that President Muhammadu Buhari is determined to ensure that peoplesâ€™ votes count come 2019.
Speaking with political editors, Muhammed said by providing a level playing ground for all candidates in the Anambra governorship election, Buhari had shown to the whole world that he was committed to a free and fair election.
According to him, by allowing all candidates to compete uninhibited, President Muhammadu Buhari sent a clear message- â€˜let the people make their decisionsâ€™.
He said if the people decided to sell their votes, there was nothing the government at the centre could do about that.
He said: â€œWe will continue to drum it and let them understand that vote is the single most powerful weapon they have and once they sell it, they canâ€™t come round again until the next four years to complain about the kind of leaders they have.â€ Mohammed said the APC-led government wanted the people to decide the outcome of every election.
He said: â€œIt is not about who is at the centre but we did not follow the temptation to use our muscle. It was quite tempting because we donâ€™t have any governor in the South-east but we felt it is only fair for the people to decide their own fate.
â€œThe Buhari-administration provided a level playing field for all and he showed that from the manner he restored the security aides of Governor Obiano.
â€œFor whatever reason, the Inspector- General of Police (IG) felt that going by experience, it will not be proper to leave the security aides.
So, he posted out the Aide-de-Camp (ADC) to the governor and other key security officials. But the president felt that it is not enough to be honest, you must also appear honest and whatever the reasons the IG might have is about perception.
â€œHe said the right thing to do is to restore the governorâ€™s aides and design a manner to ensure that nobody will abuse the constitution.
â€œThis has never happened in the history of Nigeria. I know that the practice before was that a few days before election, commissioners of police will be posted out even sometimes, INEC officials or DG SSS will be posted out.â€
He also said the fact that the people came out to vote despite the threat by the Indigenous Peoples of Biafra proved that IPOB did not represent the good people of Anambra or any state in the South-east.
â€œIf truly they represented the people, the IPOB propaganda about the election really showed that they are not on ground,â€ he added. He said the people of Anambra have shown that there was no alternative to democracy and that they believed in one Nigeria and federal system of government.
He said: â€œIf there are issues to be resolved, let us resolve it. But terrorism and separatism is not the answer.
â€œI think the Anambra election has sounded the death knell on IPOB because they said election will never hold. The election has come and gone, the turnout was quite reasonable. Every party competed very competitively and at the end of the day, the people of Anambra have decided who is going to be their governor.â€
He also explained that it was not true that the presidentâ€™s visit to the South-east was to market 2019.
He said: â€œIt is not by visiting a particular place that you show that you are running for 2019. What will determine your campaign in 2019 is your performance while in office and I can say as a member of the Federal Executive Council (FEC) that we are very careful that projects are spread equally across the country and that the interest of every zone is taken into considerations so that nobody can say â€˜I have been marginalised or shortchanged.â€™â€