Former Nigerian Minister of Information and Culture, and chieftain of the All Progressives Congress (APC), Prince Tony Momoh, has said that President Muhammadu Buhari will run for the 2019 presidential elections.
In an interview with VINCENT KALU, the veteran journalist noted that nothing will change between now and 2023,as Buhari remains on ground.
President Buhari’s administration will be two years in office, what is your assessment of the government?
In an interview, I said if we don’t perform at the end of four years that Nigerians should stone us, and I later stated in another interview that in two years they should stone us, if we don’t perform.
May 29, we will be two years, and unless you have people who are ideologically opposed to this government, what we are entitled to is accolades, not stoning, because we have delivered, in spite of the recession.
Nobody foresaw the recession, but we have delivered on security, and no place in Nigeria do we have a foreign flag as Boko Haram hoisted flags in some areas in the North East before we came to power.
We have delivered in the area of corruption, because everybody knows that anybody who has anything to hide when there is a knock on their doors, they are apprehensive.
In fact, the aura of the president is all over the place.
The next one is the economy, which we have addressed. The economy is improving. There is diversification, and people who are into agriculture are smiling to the banks.
Because of what we have done, in this second anniversary, Nigerians will not stone us.
What has been his greatest challenge?
The greatest challenge has been in these areas of security, corruption and economy because if we have all hands on deck and everybody cooperating, we wouldn’t have the challenges that I have just mentioned. You know, in security, you have lots of people, in kidnapping, lots of people in armed robbery, lots of people in all sorts of crime.
Then corruption is fighting back. Only in Nigeria will you see people crying because someone is taken to court for corruption. It is unfortunate that Nigerians defend what is ignoble, as long as they have their pay for it.
Of course, for the economy, Nigerians will do anything to get money even if it is to spoil Nigeria. You have lots and lots of 419. Look at Nigerians going abroad because they feel there were greener pastures over there, instead of facing the challenges here. Our people are dying, while crossing the deserts and the Mediterranean Sea; even when they reach Libya and other European countries, they are deported.
People at home are facing the same challenges and they are seeing what they can do to earn a living, and things will be better.
We have problem of communication; we have a duty to explain to our youths the dangers of crossing the desert.
Given the history of elections in Nigeria, as an incumbent, his supporters are eager to know whether he will re-contest or not, they are also confused, as nothing is being heard from associates like you, what are you telling them against the background that some other aspirants like Atiku, Kwakwanso are doing some underground work?
After May 29, 2015, politics ended and governance started, and governance continued till 2019. INEC has programmes for elections and timetable for electioneering, time for election and time for results.
Buhari didn’t sit down with anybody to say that, ‘I will do one term, or I will do two terms.’ There was a primary election and he defeated other aspirants.
For instance, if the time for 2019 elections comes, he has to show his interest, all the other things being equal, and if the party gives him the ticket, he will contest.
Those making some underground mobilisations are entitled to do so, and 2019 is for everybody.
Those who want to contest can do so; in APC there is no bar. If you enter APC today, you are entitled to all the privileges, and you don’t need waiver.
So, those who are interested can show their interest, but there is no doubt that Buhari is entitled to two terms and all the other things being equal, there is nothing that stops him from running again unless God decides otherwise.
Buhari’s supporters are worried that if he is not re-contesting, would they support power to shift to South or retained in the North. What is your take on this?
Politics is dynamic, active. I don’t believe in judging anything. Buhari is on ground and in my way of calculating; I don’t see anything coming between now and 2023 that will dismantle what is already on ground. I don’t argue over 2019, because he will contest.
Why are we not seeing any moves by some of his supporters like you?
There is no confusion, as this is not yet time for election. INEC will release timetable that will tell you when party primaries hold, and other details of the elections, and that should be when people should begin to show interest, but for those who are already preparing, it is left for them. You know Nigerians prepare from one election to the other.
If he is going to re-contest, where will the funds come from because we know that his associates like you don’t have the financial war chest to oil his campaigns, and those who funded his campaign last time may not do so this time around?
We have never had money, but we ran and won the election because Buhari has very loyal supporters. Don’t forget that INEC has limit on the amount of money you can spend for election.
In fact, it is illegal to spend certain amount of money for election. It is illegal to bring in large sum of money. So, the money anyone spends should be monitored.
So, election is not all about money, with 14 governors and hundreds of elected people he had 16 million votes, and the critical votes came from South West.
All those votes are available, and more votes are coming from the South East, because what the Igbo wanted are being done – the road from Onitsha to Enugu is receiving attention, ditto, the Enugu/Port Harcourt road, and many other roads that former President Goodluck Jonathan neglected.
Work is in progress at the Second Niger Bridge, and the erosion sites in the South East are also receiving attention. Look at what is happening at Aba, look at what is happening with Innoson Motors.
So, he is going to get more support from the South East, more so, look at how the political leaders in that zone are flocking into APC.