Don't drag military into politics, Nigerians warn government
Minister of Information, Lai Mohammed.
Those who reacted to the minister’s comments, which he made during a press briefing in Abuja yesterday, included a former Deputy National Chairman of Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), Chief Olabode George; human rights lawyer, Dr. Femi Aborisade; a former president of Igbo Think Tank, Aka Ikenga, Chief Goody Uwazurike, and National Coordinator, Human Rights Writers Association of Nigeria (HURIWA), Comrade Emmanuel Onwubiko.
Mohammed said government believed the men and women who are risking all to keep Nigerians safe deserve the support and prayers of all Nigerians, not vilification, insults and other acts that are capable of dampening their morale.
The minister also said the biggest opposition today that the military probably has is not coming from Boko Haram, but negative social media campaigns “because it’s so uncontrolled.”
But George charged Mohammed to stay clear of the military and not attempt to politicise its activities because they are clearly different from civil matters.
According to him: “The role of the military is to protect the country against external aggression and participate in suppressing internal insurgency and not to get involved in politics.
It is not the business of Lai Mohammed’s ministry to launder the image of the military against activities on social media.
I want to educate the minister that the military has more than enough professionals and educated personnel to address whatever it has to address instead of the unnecessary propaganda.”
Uwazurike said: “Before 2015, social media was the darling of APC and particularly Lai Mohammed, who effectively used the medium to attack the administration of erstwhile President Goodluck Jonathan. President Muhammadu Buhari in his inaugural speech in 2015 singled out social media for praise. So, it is unfortunate that the ladder through which the ruling party climbed up to power is what they are trying to pull down because it does not favour them anymore.”
Uwazurike said Nigerians should be wary of what the administration intends to achieve by pushing the military against the social media, saying: “Very soon, the military would be used to gag freedom of speech. Remember in 1984, the first institution Buhari attacked as a military Head of State was the media.”
Describing the minister’s remarks as unfortunate and a threat to the nation’s democracy, Aborisade said it was unfortunate Lai Mohammed claimed that the greatest threat to the military and the country is social media. “I stand to educate him that the greatest threat to this country and even the military is poverty and hunger created by bad policies of this administration and not social media,” he stated.
He added that Nigeria is currently considered by international ratings as the ‘Capital of Poverty’ in the world and that Buhari’s government should address that issue and not waste taxpayers’ money on unnecessary propaganda for the military.
In a similar vein, Deputy National Chairman, PDP Southwest zone, Dr. Eddy Olafeso, said the minister’s vituperations against social media is undignified, saying: “It is now right for Mohammed to castigate social media forgetting the fact that propaganda, lies and other means the ruling party deplored through the medium was part of its strategies in 2015. By this act, the minister has written himself into the dustbin of political history of the country.”
Olafeso said instead of the minister’s propaganda, “the biggest problem of the military is that it claimed to have spent billions of money to purchase fighting equipment but yet could not suppress Boko Haram insurgents.