The Minister of Information and Culture, Alhaji Lai Mohammed has challenged Nigerian to come up with one lie he has ever told since he assumed office.
Expressing disappointment with his critics for changing his first name from Lai to Liar Mohammed, he said his office and nature of his job as the government spokesperson has a lot of challenges adding that his duty is to promote the government I serve.
Below is an extract from the chat with the Sun.
Let me start on this note, how has it been switching from being the opposition spokesperson to a government spokesman?
Well, it’s not exactly the same thing in the sense that you have more responsibilities as spokesperson for government. While as spokesperson for the opposition, your major preoccupation is the supremacy of your party, of course in a very patriotic and nationalistic manner.
But then, your full responsibility is responding to your party. Here, you have a responsibility to the entire country, to the government. And here you can’t afford to be negative, you can only be positive, while in the opposition party, you could more dwell on the negative aspect of governance. You’re always on the attack. But here, you are supposed to promote the good works of government and at the same time, disseminate to the people what the government is doing. And also get feedback from the people on what the government is doing…….
Now coming to your person, I think you have broken record as opposition spokesperson in Nigeria, and now Federal Government spokesman. But it appears the current opposition has also come up to put you under pressure. Some of them said it is what you sowed that you are also reaping, that you gave PDP a hell and so they are justified if they are coming back for you especially those who have virtually turned your name from Lai to liar. How do you react to that?
I think anybody who occupies a public office should know that this sort of thing goes with the terrain. But probably what I was not prepared for was the viciousness, and the pure hatred, and the lack of objectivity and divisiveness that now accompany it.
As a spokesperson for the opposition political party, I was always very factual, I was very objective, and I didn’t go personal. And I keep saying, that I challenge anybody to come out and say ‘this is one lie you told when you were spokesperson for the opposition’
I challenge these people and I say fault me on facts, and not on emotions. Most of the things you see are purely emotional. Many of them believe that, because I played such a major role in the downfall of PDP, no matter what I do, they would criticize it. I want them to criticise me fairly. I want them to be objective; I’m ready to take them on. Take for instance, one of them went back and said on December 22nd 2009, I issued a statement that the minister of information should give daily bulletin on the health of Yar’Adua and I said you’re mixing things up. Number one, Mr. President is not ill; he is not in the hospital. So, there would be no need for me to give a bulletin. Two, Mr. President complied with the constitution when he was leaving. He wrote a letter to the national assembly that he was leaving on a vacation. But during his vacation, he would take the opportunity to do some medical check-ups and while he’s away, the Vice-President would be acting president. So, I do not see the situation as the same.
So, to you my answer is very simple, it is that today, what we have is the politics of hatred, politics of grievances and politics of prejudice. And this would divide the polity. But I’m not afraid of being challenged; in fact I love being challenged because I won’t go out without my facts. But when you start to quote me out of context, out of share hatred for whatever reason, you go personal, and you are not objective, that doesn’t slow me down. But it makes one sad that this country can be reduced to this level, and that politics can be reduced to pure hatred, divisiveness, prejudice and grievances.
In essence those who say you have told many lies are unfair to you?
Not unfair, they are the liars. Because I challenge them: ‘what lie have I told?’ And they have not come up with one yet.