The Federal Government on Thursday said though it was true the country faced security challenges, the President, Major General Muhammadu Buhari (retd.), would not resign as being canvassed in some quarters.
While discussing the deteriorating security situation in parts of the country on the floor of the Senate recently, the Minority Leader, Eyinnaya Abaribe, had called on the President to resign if he could not guarantee security.
The National Assembly, some individuals and groups have also called on the President to sack his service chiefs.
But the Minister of Information and Culture, Alhaji Lai Mohammed, told reporters in Abuja the government believed in the ability of the nation’s security agencies to tackle the challenges.
He said Buhari would not resign because he had the mandate of Nigerians to preside over the affairs of the country till 2023.
“To those asking Mr President to resign, I wish to say this: Mr President will not resign. He has the overwhelming mandate of Nigerians to preside over the affairs of the country till the expiration of his tenure in May 2023,” he declared.
The minister urged political and religious leaders to be very careful not to aggravate the security situation with “incendiary and reckless comments,” saying they should be part of solutions to problems, rather than aggravating situations.
Mohammed also raised concerns over what he called a spike in the dissemination of fake news in recent times.
While he urged Nigerians to be circumspect in believing or circulating fake news, the minister said the government would go ahead with its plan to sanitise the social media.
“By March 2, 2020, we will inaugurate the stakeholders’ committee that will deliberate and recommend the way forward.
“We are also planning a major international conference that will bring together the tech companies, media practitioners, policymakers and others as part of efforts to tackle this growing cankerworm.
“Last week, I met with the representatives of Google and Facebook for the same purpose. The situation is dire and no nation that values its peace, security and stability will allow an irresponsible use of the social media,” he said.
Mohammed also called on the Amnesty International to stop attacking the nation’s military men and casting them as “the bad guys” while they prosecute the war against terrorists.
He said this while responding to the organisation’s accusation that the military burnt some villages and displaced residents.
He said, “In carrying out their duties, Amnesty International should not cast themselves in the league of Boko Haram and ISWAP terrorists.
“They should stop the growing practice of constantly attacking the military and casting them as the bad guys, when all they are doing is putting their lives on the line to fight terrorists who have no respect for the sanctity of life, who wilfully go after women and children, who attack houses of worship without respect or allegiance to any religion.
“Amnesty International should stop providing succour for terrorists by attributing their atrocities to our troops. Our soldiers, who are defending the country, are guided by extant rules of engagement and operational codes of conduct. They should not be made to look like the aggressors here.”
On the recent disruption of international flights to the Murtala Muhammed International Airport, Lagos, he said the government had decided to upgrade the navigational aids of some airports from Category II Instrument Landing System to CAT III ILS.
In the first phase, he said the CAT III ILS was procured and installed in Lagos and Abuja airports while the government procured a calibration aircraft instead of renting one each time for $500,000.
“Both Abuja and Lagos airports were calibrated. The CAT III ILS is working perfectly here in Abuja. But after calibration, some incorrect readings were noticed in the CAT III ILS at the MMA.
“Just as it was about to be re-calibrated, the weather situation in Lagos changed for the worse, hence the disruption of international flights into Lagos,” he explained.
On the widely reported $500m which he was quoted as saying would transform the Nigeria Television Authority to compete with the Cable News Network, Mohammed said the loan was for three major projects, and not for the NTA alone.
He said the projects would include the construction of a headquarters complex and transmission network for Integrated Television Services, building of an ultra-modern Media City in Ikorodu.