Prince Tony Momoh, a former Minister of Information and Pro-Chancellor and Chairman, Governing Council of the University of Jos (UNIJOS), is one of the national leaders of the ruling All Progressives Congress (APC). In this interview, he spoke with journalists in Abuja on the three years of President Muhammadu Buhari’s administration and other issues. Excerpts:
President Buhari on Tuesday May 29 marked three years in office as president. He was elected on a four-year mandate which will elapse in 2019. Do you think three years is enough to assess his performance?
Even one day is enough. But one thing people should know is that three or four years is not enough in total consideration of your efforts to assess what you can do in any polity. But even if you spend one day, it is enough depending on which areas you are looking at. If you are looking at the area of tenure, one day tenure means you are there for one day. In one day, the person may just had breakfast or dinner or held a few meetings with security people .
There is impression that the South East and South South are predominantly PDP states and that no matter what Buhari does, he cannot win in these states. What is your perspective on that?
Let us watch! The taste of the pudding will be in the eating when the results come out. Buhari in the last three years has done a lot for these two regions despite the fact that they didn’t vote for him in 2015. He has done the East-West road. In the South East now, I saw the Minister of State for Agriculture commissioning these erosion sites in Aba, Abia state. He also said that about 26 erosion sites are being addressed, whether in the whole of Nigeria or the area, I don’t know but I know about when about 11 erosion sites were done. The office of the Secretary to the Government of the Federation is responsible for these erosion sites all over Nigeria. The Second Niger Bridge is also being attended to and has been expanded. Also, Onitsha- Enugu road is there, the rail lines projects are also there. If all these challenges are there and for 16 years, PDP and Buhari is attending to them now, you think the Igbos are so ungrateful not to recognise that during elections? Do you think the Igbos are so greedy that they will join the ruling party for nothing? Nobody is giving them any money but they are grateful because of the attention being given to the infrastructures in the East. The South East has the highest infrastructural deficit in the country and they are being attended to by the Buhari administration. Do you think the people won’t show gratitude? So, a lot has been done. It is not all negative as some people are portraying the situation. I watched a television programme this morning where people are referring to negative things and are not even kind enough to refer to any positive thing. They were saying the president has done nothing in the last three years. There is nobody who can say Buhari has done nothing. In the North East, we have been fighting a war. The security agencies have been empowered, the economy has been diversified and all loopholes have been plugged.
At the beginning of this administration, you said Nigerians should stone APC leaders if the government fails to perform. It is three years now, do you think you have been vindicated?
Yes, we are not stoned because we are doing well. If we are not doing well, won’t Nigerians be stoning us? But with the opposition, stoning will always take place. Whether you do well or not, they will always criticise. So, Nigerians who will stone us are PDP members who will not see anything good in APC. Even if we do well, they will start throwing stones. This administration has performed better than any other administration since 1999 in three years.
Why do you think Obasanjo is too critical of those who succeeded him in office unlike what obtains in the United States where you hardly see former presidents criticising the incumbents despite political differences?
Everybody have their strength. Obasanjo’s strength and abilities lie in activity. When he was in power, he worked very hard, positively or negatively, that is the outcome of analysis. But the fact is that he cannot sit down without being noticed. The area he dissipates his energy is the area of manifesting spiritual immaturity. For instance, when you refuse to praise people for doing good. I may be wrong but I am not aware of any outing of Obasanjo where he praised anybody to his own detriment. He does not know how to praise. It seems therefore that he celebrates failure. I think it is a function of spiritual maturity. Anybody who is spiritually mature will concede that every human being has a role to play and then the positive area of that role will be the point you focus on in his favour. I have never seen globally where Obasanjo celebrates the success of any other person apart from himself. I may be wrong but the fact is that if you have such a person, then that person has a spiritual problem.