Minister of Communications, Adebayo Shittu, says the electorate should be allowed to determine the eligibility or otherwise of President Muhammadu Buhari to re-contest in 2019.
Shittu, who fielded questions from State House correspondents in Abuja on Monday, said it was wrong for former President Olusegun Obasanjo to ask Buhari not to go for a second term.
“Obasanjo as a Nigerian has the right to hold an opinion. If Obasanjo holds an opinion that Mr. President has performed less than it should be, those of us who are in the position to know better has a right to also state the other side which perhaps Obasanjo is ignorant of.
“You see, there are some people who enjoy engaging in sensationalism. With due respect to General Obasanjo, if you take his history over the last 30 years, there is hardly any regime other than his own that he did not criticize except Sani Abacha, who didn’t wait for Obasanjo to criticize him before he was sent to the gulag.
“So many Nigerians know that Obasanjo enjoys this type of sensationalisation. In any case, no matter what impression you have of me, do you have a right to tell me not to contest an election? I mean we should talk like people who are educated, who know our left from the right.
“There are procedures for elections. President Buhari is a member of the APC and the APC has its rules and regulations as to how candidates will emerge. If members of the party feel that the president has not performed well enough, it is for them to show that during the primary election.
“It’s not for anybody to short change Nigerians and prevent people from offering themselves for an election,” he said.
Shittu also dismissed the assertion that the inauguration of the South-West Zonal Office of the Muhammadu Buhari/Osinbajo Dynamic Support Group was boycotted by prominent APC members in the zone.
He said, on the contrary, over 2,000 APC supporters from six states of the South-West graced the event.
He stated that inauguration of the office complex and the distribution of Buhari’s re-election campaign caps did not violate the nation’s electoral law as being insinuated in some quarters.
It would be recalled that the Secretary to the Government of the Federation (SGF), Boss Mustapha, on Wednesday at the Council Chamber of the Presidential Villa, stopped Shittu from distributing Buhari’s re-election campaign caps.
Shittu said: “It is true that the constitution and the electoral law talk of campaigns starting 90 days before elections, but there is no law stopping announcing intentions. There is a difference between campaigns and intentions.
“So, I plead not guilty to the issue of starting campaign before time. The best thing we could say is that it has been a pronouncement of an intention.
“The man himself has not declared but we are saying we will persuade him to declare his intention at the appropriate time and we are going to support him.”
The minister noted that the inauguration of the South-West campaign office had also afforded them an opportunity to launch a booklet titled, “A Compilation of the Achievements of the Buhari Administration.’’
He said the booklet provided Nigerians the opportunity to have verifiable facts in hard copy.