Minister of Information and Culture, Alhaji Lai Mohammed, has declared that the successful conduct of the governorship election in Anambra state was an evidence that the Indigenous Peoples of Biafra (IPOB) is dead.
Mohammed, who spoke to newsmen in Abuja said that the victory recorded by incumbent Governor Willie Obiano was also an evidence that President Muhammadu Buhari’s commitment to free and fair elections was yielding fruits.
He said that the President demonstrated openness and transparency by immediately ordering the Inspector General of Police (IGP) to swiftly restore security aides to the Governor.
According to him, the successful conduct of the election has further demonstrated to the world that the IPOB was no longer in existence.
While asked to comment on the incidents of vote buying and ballot snatching, Mohammed said what he was sure of was that President Buhari provided a level playing field for the polls,
He said: “Frankly speaking, I didn’t follow the Anambra election, so, I cannot really talk about vote buying or ballot snatching. What I know that I can speak on is that number one, the Muhammadu Buhari administration provided a level playing field for all and he showed that from the manner he restored the security aides of Governor Obiano.
On the IPOB threat to the election, he said that the threat by to frustrate the successful conduct of the election was defeated through a large turnout at the polls adding that the election has sounded a death knell for the IPOB.
Mohammed said: “I think what that proved really is that IPOB does not represent the good people of Anambra or any state in the South East. If truly they represented the people, the IPOB propaganda about the election really showed that they are not on the ground.
“Anywhere you see a sign that says ‘No Thoroughfare’, it means there is a road. So, the fact that they were saying that they are going to disrupt the election, the federal government has decided to sew IPOB uniforms for people and those people will now kill and give the impression that IPOB members are responsible shows that they have lost the game.
“The people of Anambra have shown that there is no alternative to democracy and that they believe in one Nigeria and federal system of government. If there are issues to be resolved, let us resolve it. But terrorism and separatism is not the answer.
“I think the Anambra election has sounded the death knell on IPOB because they said the 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.
“For whatever reason, the Inspector- General of Police (IGP) 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 IGP might have is about perception. He said the right thing to do is to restore the governor’s aides and design a manner to ensure that nobody will abuse the constitution.
“This has never happened in the history of Nigeria. I know that the practice before was that a few days before the election, Commissioners of police will be posted out even sometimes, INEC officials or DG SSS will be posted out. But for Mr President, the message is clear: Let the people make their decisions.
“If the people now decide to sell their votes, there is nothing the government at the centre can do but we 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 can’t come round again until the next four years to complain about the kind of leaders they have.
“But what I believe is that for us in APC as a government, we want the people of Nigeria to decide the outcome of every election. It 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 don’t have any governor in the South East but we felt it is only fair for the people to decide their own fate.”