Former Minister of Information and Culture, Prince Tony Momoh, predicts a comfortable victory for President Muhammadu Buhari in this Saturday’s presidential election. Momoh, who is a chieftain of the All Progressives Congress (APC), says Buhari is like a magnet to the common man, adding that he has done enough in the last three and a half years to deserve re-election.
The presidential election is just six days away from today and the campaigns have been intense. Does your party stand a chance to win?
The fact is that the answer to prayer for winning election is vote and we have 84 million registered voters. And more than 50 per cent of them are in the rural areas, below the level of the social media. Many of them are in the market as petty traders; many of them are in the farms, while many others reside in places that do not have electricity and so on. So, people should perish the idea of anybody wanting to endorse at any level. In 2003, we had 12 million votes but didn’t have a councilor; in 2007, they said we had six million votes yet external observers said we won. In 2011, we had 12 million votes also without having a councilor; in 2015, we had 15 million votes. I am mentioning this because each of the times that President Buhari went to court, he got to the Supreme Court. In 2015 when he was sworn in, he told everybody that he complained in 2003, 2007 and 2011 and now that he is at the helm of affairs of the country, he would not want to do what he complained about. In other words, during his tenure, he would ensure that elections are free, fair and transparent. And all elections we have had under his administration have been by and large free, fair and transparent. So, he has not been breathing down the neck of INEC to do anything in the way of rigging. So, one thing you should be assured of is that the election of February 16 will be free, fair and transparent. Anybody who thinks he can manipulate the election is working for the darkness not for the light. So, I predict free, fair and transparent election. And the people who vote are Nigerians; they should just go and vote and not be anybody’s agent to destabilise.
Having said that, number two is that Buhari has been fair to everybody, not one chief executive of any state has quarreled with him. So, he is fair to all the chief executives of all states of the federation. So, at the level of the presidential election, I do not see any problem. But competition will come more when sons of the soil compete during the governorship and state assembly elections. In every state of the federation, every person contesting for any position is an indigene of the state so there will be more competition at that level. But at the presidential level, the main competition is between the APC and PDP; and I believe that APC has done enough to win comfortably. The election will be free, fair and transparent, and there won’t be any problems. I believe Buhari will win.
In spite of the reassurance by the president that the election will be free and fair, which you also corroborated here, the opposition parties have persistently cried out that the APC has perfected plans to rig the election. Where do you situate the allegation?
This is the first time we are going to see real popular voting in this country that nobody can take away. For instance, I am from the South-South. In 2015, Buhari got 46 percent of the votes cast in Edo State. In other states of the South-South and South-East, Buhari had less than 300,000 votes, simply because the presidential election results were written up. Now, nobody is going to write up any result. And Buhari has told everybody, ‘do not write any result for me because I don’t think I will be pleasing God by doing to people what was done to me that I complained about in 2003, 2007 and 2011.’ Buhari has enough integrity to be that frank. So, look forward to free, fair and transparent election. If anybody wants to cause trouble, I can assure you it’s not APC; and anybody who wants to cause trouble will be crushed. The whole world is watching and the election will be free, fair and transparent. All these importation of arms into the country, do you think it’s the APC or the government that is importing arms? So, the security people should really be watching to know if there is anybody who wants to cause trouble perhaps because he thinks they will lose. At the presidential level I don’t see any problem.
Don’t you think the crisis rocking some state chapters of your party like Zamfara, Rivers, Imo and Ogun will cost your party victory?
The matter is in court. The other thing is that it is not at the presidential level. People will vote at the presidential level. They didn’t say that there was any problem with Buhari’s nomination in any of those states. We are talking about the February 16 election, which is the presidential election and also National Assembly election. I don’t know what will happen in the National Assembly election where you have sons of the soil competing. But at the presidential election where you have two main parties being the APC and PDP, I have no doubt in my mind that the APC will register more votes than it has ever done.
How would you weigh in on the controversy over the comment by Governor Nasir El-Rufai that any foreigner that tries to interfere in the forthcoming election will go back in body bag?
I saw what El-Rufai said. He said that anybody who comes to cause problem in Nigeria, not just to monitor the election but with violence in his mind, of course he would be tackled. You think we should allow the person to come and start destabilising our election? I don’t know what anybody is talking about. Nobody is going to allow interference in the affairs of Nigeria. Mutual respect for countries is a credo at the United Nations; it’s a mantra. So, if anybody is coming here to tell us what must be done, then that’s the interference we will not accept. But those who are here to monitor, they are here to see what is happening and write their report. In 2003 and 2007, these same people reported that Buhari won but the election was rigged. Theirs was to report. I don’t believe that European, U.S. or any other group of observers should do more than just going round and writing their report and sending to their home countries. But to come and say you want to do anything other than observing, nobody will accept it.