The Federal Government have praised itself and insisted that President Muhammadu Buhari has succeeded in lifting Nigeria from the sordid state former President Goodluck Jonathan, and the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) left it three years ago.
Nigeria’s Minister of Informationsaid who said this at the weekend also said that Nigerians are now proud to hold Nigeria’s international passports unlike what it was under Goodluck Jonathan.
In an exclusive interview with DAILY INDEPENDENT, Alhaji Lai Mohammed, Minister of Information, said recent comments attributed to former ex-President Jonathan where he was quoted as saying that he was ashamed that Nigeria had become a laughing stock three years after he left office and had joined the comity of countries used to illustrate bad governance was very unfortunate.
The former president, who was at the inauguration of the first bridge built by Governor Ayodele Fayose of Ekiti State in Ado Ekiti a fortnight ago, allegedly said that Nigeria under President Muhammadu Buhari had become a reference point for negative things.
He cited recent instances when the Ghanaian President Nana Akufo-Addo allegedly mocked the poor state of security in Nigeria and the naira’s weakening status.
He was quoted to have said, “He (Nana Akufo-Addo) said Ghana is not like Nigeria where cattle roam the streets.
“At another occasion in the United Kingdom, he made scathing remarks about Nigeria’s currency.
“I feel ashamed as a former president that the president of a neighbouring country used Nigeria as a negative example.
“If a neighbouring African president will use Nigeria to make negative examples, then we as leaders must know certain things are wrong in the country.”
However, Lai Mohammed said contrary to the former president’s claim, the image of Nigeria which was seriously battered under the Jonathan presidency had greatly improved since President Buhari assumed office.
The minister said many Nigerians were now proud holders of the country’s international passports, something they were ashamed to be identified with because of their country’s bad image as a corrupt country under the Jonathan presidency.
He also gave instances of several endorsements received by President Buhari from international organisations such as the African Union and US President Donald Trump as testimonies to the fact that Jonathan’s statement about Nigeria’s degeneration in the last three years was untrue.
Mohammed said: “The statement from former President Goodluck Jonathan describing Nigeria as a laughing stock is very unfortunate. I hardly ever take on former presidents. If anything, we have succeeded in lifting Nigeria from the sordid state he left it.
“Before we came in, most Nigerians were ashamed to be holders of our passport. Today, we are respected internationally everywhere.
“Only recently, the President of the United States publicly acknowledged the leadership role of President Muhammadu Buhari.
“Only recently, the entire African Union invested him with Champion of Africa in Anti-Corruption. Only recently, the Secretary of State in the US reiterated the confidence of the United States government in President Buhari.
“Indices point to the fact that this government is daily winning new admirers all over the world.
“So, I don’t even understand what former President Jonathan is saying. How have we become a joke in the world and in whose minds? It is very unfortunate.
“People must begin to appreciate the weight of the office they occupy or they had occupied.
“I won’t take on any former president but clearly if anything, Nigeria’s image is much better than how he left it.”
Also speaking, Prince Tony Momoh, a former Minister of Information, noted that while the former president may be right that the whole world was laughing at Nigeria, it would be wrong for him to claim that the laughter was aimed at scorning the country.
Momoh said Nigeria’s situation had taken a turn for the better since President Buhari took over in 2015 and argued that people like Jonathan would always stone APC leaders no matter the positive things they did.
“I think former President Jonathan will be correct if he learns to define laughter. Is it laughter for the World Bank, IMF, or world economies to say Nigeria has improved? That Nigeria is now a destination for investments?
“I know if they are laughing at us, it is a positive one and not laughter to mock or scorn us.
“The Commonwealth secretary-general came the other time and was talking about the fact that they have been able to recover about $3 billion for Nigeria. The world trusts Nigeria now; the whole world respects Nigeria.
“The whole of Africa trusts Nigeria today because of President Buhari.
“Was it not the same Jonathan that Christine Amanpour of CNN asked that what happened to the money which his people used to buy arms? Jonathan said, ‘how am I supposed to know what happened to the money?’ He was the president then, but he didn’t know the money was shared.
“So, he is one of those I said will stone Buhari and APC leaders because there is nothing we do that they will agree that it is okay.”