From Victor Seyi, Ilorin
A socio-political pressure group, Kwara Concerned Citizens, has expressed support for the National Publicity Secretary of the All Progressives Congress (APC), Alhaji Lai Mohammed, over his role in the conflict that arose from the election of new National Assembly leaders.
The group in a statement by an Igbomina Community Leader, Dr Hezekiah Oyedepo and the Wakilin of Lafiaji, Edu Community Leader, Umoru Sha’aba Lafiaji, warned that Mohammed should not become a subject of attack simply because he was discharging his duties.
It noted that to the best of its knowledge, Lai Mohammed’s statement conveying his party’s reaction was not restricted to the election of Dr. Bukola Saraki alone, but also concerns that of Hon. Yakubu Dogara as the Speaker of the House of Representatives.
The group wrote: “Our attention has been drawn to the statement by a group in our
dear state Kwara, condemning and even threatening the National Publicity Secretary of the All Progressives Congress (APC), Alhaji Lai Mohammed, over the statement he issued on behalf of the party in the aftermath of the recent elections into the leadership positions of the National Assembly.
“We are not aware that to date, any group in Bauchi State, the home state of Hon. Dogara, has attacked or threatened Mohammed for not supporting his emergence as Speaker.
“We are astonished that for carrying out his duties diligently, as he has always done, by articulating the position of his party, Mohammed has become a target of attacks and threats from some perfidious persons in his home state.
“While also acknowledging the courage, loyalty, decency and professionalism of Mohammed in carrying out his duties as the voice of the APC, we make bold to say that, to our pride as his kinsmen and indeed to wide acclamation across the land, he has performed his duties creditably.
“In the first instance, the opinions expressed by Lai Mohammed in his statements are not his own, but that of his party. Secondly, since he articulates the position of his party at many levels – including intra- and inter-party, national as well as international – he is expected, at all times, to put the interest of the party above his own personal interest.
“It is therefore unfair, illogical and downright simplistic to conclude that Lai Mohammed’s statement conveying the immediate reaction of his party to the elections in the National Assembly means he is opposed to the election of his kinsman, Dr. Bukola Saraki, as the President of the Senate.
“What was he expected to do in the circumstances? Refuse to carry out his duty as the APC’s spokesman just because of the involvement of his kinsman in the Senate leadership election? Infuse his own feelings and opinion into his party’s statement so that he won’t be seen as opposing his kinsman? Or issue his own statement reflecting his personal opinion, as against that of his party?
The group said “Lai Mohammed’s antecedents in the performance of his duties as party spokesman speak volumes about his courage, party loyalty and ability to rise beyond situations that will get less-imbued persons bogged down in a quagmire.
“Despite his close relationship with the late President Umaru Musa Yar’Adua, dating back to their days in school, Lai Mohammed never for once shied away from conveying his then opposition Action Congress of Nigeria (ACN) party’s views on Yar’dua’s administration. In most cases, such views were scathing. Yet, to his eternal credit, Yar’Adua never for once used that against him.
“We of the Kwara Concerned Citizens are therefore alarmed that any individual or group will seek to extrapolate that because Lai Mohammed issued a statement reflecting his party’s stand on the National Assembly leadership’s elections, he is automatically against the emergence of his kinsman as Senate President and he must be pilloried.
“Lai Mohammed’s case must not be different, hence we implore those who have now turned Lai Mohammed bashing to a lucrative pastime, simply because he refused to subjugate his party’s interest to his own personal interest, to desist from their disreputable ways.”