The Federal Government says the call, in some quarters, for the resignation of President Muhammadu Buhari over the recent killing of farmers in Borno State by Boko Haram Terrorists is “cheap and irresponsible”.
The Minister of Information and Culture, Alhaji Lai Mohammed, during a meeting with members of the Newspaper Proprietors’ Association of Nigeria on Thursday in Lagos said the calls amounted to playing dirty politics with the issue of security.
The News Agency of Nigeria reports the meeting was attended by the President of NPAN and Publisher of This Day Newspaper, Nduka Obaigbena; veteran Journalist and former Governor of Ogun State, Chief Olusegun Osoba; and Founder/Publisher of The Vanguard Newspaper, Sam Amuka-Pemu.
The General Secretary of NPAN and Publisher of The Source Magazine, Comfort Obi; Publisher of Nigerian Pilot, Dennis Sami; as well as representatives of The Sun, The Nation, Daily Trust and Daily Asset Newspapers among others attended the meeting.
Mohammed said: “In the wake of the killing, there have been calls in some quarters for Mr. President to resign.
“Well, let me say here that this call amounts to playing dirty politics with the issue of security, and it is cheap and irresponsible.
“Mr. President was elected in 2015 for a four-year term and re-elected in 2019 for another four-year term.
“No amount of hysterical calls for resignation will prevent him from serving out his term.”
Mohammed said before the President assumed office, Boko Haram could stroll into any city, especially in the North, to carry out deadly attacks.
He said Abuja, the nation’s capital, Kano, Maiduguri, Jos and Damaturu among others were regularly targeted, while motor parks, churches, mosques and shopping complexes were not spared.
He said suicide bombers used to have a field day detonating their bombs and killing innocent people and Boko Haram used to occupy territories, deposing and installing Emirs and collecting taxes.
He said all that had become things of past and the changes were not mere happenstance, but part of the successes recorded by the military under President Buhari.
Mohammed added: “Therefore, calling on the President to resign every time there is a setback in the war on terror is a needless distraction and cheap politicking.
“Let us stop playing politics with the issue of security.”
The Minister reiterated the position that “Boko Haram is today badly degraded and can only carry out cowardly attacks like the one against defenceless farmers over the weekend”.
He said no nation, no matter how powerful, is immune to attacks on soft targets.
He said: “For instance, 9/11 happened despite the prowess of the most powerful army in the world.
“Boko Haram’s only oxygen today is publicity.
“That’s why they have rushed to release a video claiming responsibility for the killing of the farmers.
“Please note that that video was shared to instill fear in the civil populace and maintain relevance in the eyes of their sponsors.”
Mohammed stressed that the killing of defenceless farmers was an act of cowardice and savagery by a group of deranged terrorists.
He added that the killing was not a true reflection of the progress being made by the military against Boko Haram.
He said: “That Boko Haram is going after soft targets is a sign of weakness and desperation on their part, especially after they have suffered huge setbacks in the hands of the military in recent times.
“The modus operandi of a losing terror group is to go after soft targets in order to stay relevant.”
The Minister appealed to the general public to provide information about the insurgents to security forces to assist them in ending the war on terror.
Mohammed also urged Nigerians to continue to support the men and women in uniform among whom many had made the supreme sacrifice to keep the nation safe.
Responding on behalf of other members of association, Obaigbena thanked the Minister for the visit, noting: “It is an unusual time for the country as Nigeria is in crisis of insecurity across the country.”
He said it was not time for blame game or politics, but how to collectively find solutions to the security situation.
Obaigbena assured that the media would work with the Minister and the government at large to deal with the situation.
NAN reports the meeting went into closed door session after the opening speeches by Mohammed and the NPAN President.
In the entourage of the Minister to the meeting were the Executive Secretary of the Nigeria Press Council, Francis Nwosu; and Registrar and CEO of Advertising Practitioners Council of Nigeria, Dr. Olalekan Fadolapo.