An elder statesman and leader of Pan-Niger Delta Forum (PANDEF), Chief Edwin Clark, has lambasted the Minister of Information and Culture, Alhaji Lai Mohammed, over his recent statement that “Nigeria would have been an Islamic state without President Muhammadu Buhari.”
Clark, who said that Mohammed has got it wrong again, charged him to build bridges between the Nigerian government and the people of Nigeria, instead of widening and expanding the gulf.
He quoted excerpts from Ex-President Goodluck Jonathan’s recent book where the former president narrated how the insurgents were flushed out saying, “Anyhow, the six weeks served us well, we received the military equipment we were expecting within that period and our Armed Forces commendably dealt a deserving blow on the terrorists and repossessed all territorial areas of Nigeria previously occupied by terrorists. Boko Haram was deflated up to the point of handing over to my successor on 29th May, 2015.
“We concluded the elections peacefully, even if there were issues raised about the fairness, at least the nation was relieved that the election held peacefully and that there was no post-election violence.”
According to Clark, no patriotic Nigerian will believe Mohammed’s statement that it was President Buhari that prevented the takeover of Nigeria by Islam, rather, “most Nigerians have the strong feeling that it is his government that has given or created the environment for the sect to return and be more daring.
Revealing how he defended the former President when three governors from the North-East region accused him of promoting Boko Haram to kill Northerners, especially, those of the Hausa/Fulani and Kanuri extraction, Clark alleged that the minister was amongst Jonathan’s traducers.
“It is pertinent to reiterate that Boko Haram was expelled from the fourteen local government areas of Borno State by former President Goodluck Jonathan’s government through the engagement of combined forces who were assisted by hired mercenaries,” he said in a statement.
“Prior to the period the sect was expelled, they were occupying fourteen local government areas in the state. As a matter of fact, it was as a result of this that the elections could not be conducted at the initial scheduled date, and had to be postponed. It was this effrontery of making the state not to hold its functions that made the then government to take the bull by the horns and flush the Boko Haram group out of Nigeria.
“It is, therefore, not true that it was President Muhammadu Buhari that expelled Boko Haram out of 14 Local Government Areas of Borno State.
“It must be remembered that some Nigerians believed that the Boko Haram sect will be used to harass and torment President Goodluck Jonathan, getting him out of office. Even when it was suggested then that there should be a meeting to see the possibility of having negotiations between the Nigerian state and Boko Haram, the sect chose Gen. Muhammadu Buhari, rtd, as he then was, as their Chief Negotiator, even though a few days after the choice, he (Gen. Buhari) rejected the sect’s choice of him.
“There were no accusations the APC (All Progressives Congress) did not level against President Jonathan then, including criticising him for killing innocent Northerners through the sponsor of Boko Haram. Meanwhile, all these were fabricated lies from the pit of hell, against an innocent man whose only offence is that he as the President and Commander-In-Chief of the Armed Force of a country, where some people think they alone have the exclusive right to be in that position.
“I remember the altercations I had with three Governors of the North East, namely Admiral Murtala Nyako of Adamawa State, Kashim Shettima of Borno State and Ibrahim Geidam of Yobe State, on their accusations of President Goodluck Jonathan as the promoter of Boko Haram to kill northerners, especially, those of the Hausa/Fulani and Kanuri extraction.
“I rose to the occasion defending President Jonathan, because he was innocent. It was just a true case of giving a dog a bad name in order to hang it. Also, amongst these Dr. Jonathan’s traducers, was Alhaji Lai Mohammed.”