Minister for Propaganda Comical Lai Mohammed was on Al Jazeera’s “Inside Story” yesterday as part of a panel discussing President Muhammadu Buhari’s first year in office.
The programme’s notes said: “A year of triumph, consolidation, pains and achievements is how Muhammadu Buhari describes his first year in office. In an anniversary speech on Sunday, the Nigerian President promised to boost the economy, eliminate corruption, build roads and bridges and defeat Boko Haram.
They are similar to the pledges made in his presidential election campaign. Buhari inherited several problems from the previous government when he took over a year ago.Since then, a new threat has emerged, which is attacking the heart of the economy. The Niger Delta Avengers are an armed group sabotaging pipelines in southern Nigeria, home to most oil and gas fields.The Avengers are demanding more of the national oil revenue to benefit the population of the poor and polluted Delta region. How will he deal with the threat and the many problems Nigerians face? Presenter: Martine Dennis; Guests: Lai Mohammed, Nigerian Minister of Information. Donu Kogbara, Nigerian journalist and former member of the Presidential Committee on Oil & Gas. Manji Cheto, Nigerian security consultant and political risk analyst”.
Watch it below:
Presenter Martine Dennis asked Lai if he had any regrets after their first year in office, and like a typical politician, he ducked the question and started reeling out the “challenges” they faced when they came in last year. Dennis had to interrupt and remind Mohammed that he didn’t answer the question. Manji Cheto, the other panellist volunteered that it was a big regret that Buhari’s administration didn’t give the economy serious focus. This could be seen as in line with former president Olusegun Obasanjo’s recent claim that Buhari was “not very hot” on the economy.
Donu Kogbara spoke about how, in response to attacks by the Niger Delta Avengers, the Nigerian army has attacked Gbaramatu in the Niger Delta and brutalised “soft targets” such as ordinary villagers. According to her, such a strategy won’t work. She warned Buhari to “tread very carefully” and claimed that the army have not shown they have the capacity to deal with the problem militarily. Buhari needed to “win hearts and minds” in the Niger Delta. He needed to show that he cares, but he has been demonstrating through his rhetoric that he doesn’t care.
Kogbara recommended that Buhari should visit the region. While he has visited 29 countries in the past year, the president is yet to visit the region that produces most of Nigeria’s wealth.
Despite being pressed by the presenter, Lai Mohammed refused to answer the question on when Buhari will visit the Niger Delta.