To Nigeria’s children born on November 1, 1993. By November 1, 2024, they would have attained the age of 30 and would therefore be ready, willing and able to judge those of today, dead or alive, who have worked with such profound narrow-minded dedication for the break-up of the world’s most populous Black
Country. The youngest of the culprits will be in their late 50’s.
Tony Momoh, November, 1993.
If exercising your right to vote is the only yardstick for accessing the good citizen, I am afraid I have a deplorable record of inaction. For only once in my life have I ever voted. For one reason or the other, I have found myself losing interest in voting not only because those who may want my vote may not have come across with a clear-cut message to give me the courage to bind myself on their behalf, but mainly that the politician seems to be always embarrassed when he is reminded of the promises he made once upon a time when he wanted your vote. “Are you not aware”, one politician friend told me one day, “that promises are meant to be broken?”
But the June 1993 Presidential Election was different. I told myself I had to vote. I could, however, not do so because I searched in vain for my registration card where I was sure I had kept it. It was after the election, in fact exactly an hour after polling had closed, that I found the card where I had searched in vain for it.
Looking back, I wonder how could I have felt if I had been through the rigor of being accredited; then asked to come back not later than 11:00a.m. at which time voting will start; then returning to cast my vote; then watching the counting in the glare of all; and finally leaving the scene, confident that the candidate who won the ward did so for all to see and that everyone was witness to the fact that the one who lost was not robbed. And hoping that what took place in my ward would be faithfully replicated country-wide
I heaved a sigh of relief when I heard NEC Chairman Professor Humphrey Nwosu and Government spokes-men say the June 12, 1993 voting was free and fair and that the much-maligned Option A4 had triumphed, having done wonderful magic for the whole world to see and applaud and learn from. With my heart singing without deliberate urging from me, I travelled out of the country. In London, I dug up the telephone numbers of all the friends I had known and informed them with a noticeable measure of pride than the Administration which I had the privilege to have been associated with had solved Nigeria’s political problem, the problem all along been our pitiable failure to conduct peaceful, trouble-free and indisputable elections.
The following week, I called Lagos at least three times a week monitoring the results. Information came from all manners of sources, official, unofficial even clandestine. When the results started to indicate that Chief Moshood Abiola of the SDP was winning, not only in the old Western Region which was a sure bet but also in the East and the |North, especially in Tofa’s Kano, I heard myself saying that for once in the history of Nigeria, even if tribe and tongue may differ, the people seemed to be opting for breaking down the cultural road-blocks that had slowed the political speed train to a creaking crawl.
I must emphasise that I was not more concerned about who was winning than that the seven-year-old political programme of the Military Administration in Nigeria was peaking in visibly glowing success. Hail IBB. Hail the man who had come to be called Maradona of Nigerian politics. Why should that glow not touch me? As Minister of Information from 1986 to 1990, I was all over the country campaigning for the two political parties to be given a chance to bloom and mature. I explained the manifestoes of the two parties and, through my colleagues in the states, ensured that they were translated into local languages so that the parties would voluntarily patronised without pressure from anyone, least of all government.
The elections at the local and state government levels had been held, successfully. Even the elections to the National Assembly were held without bringing down the national roof. The only one left to crown the Military Administration’s head with success was the Presidential election, and with road-blocks here and there, and the consequent postponement of the planned date of the departure of the military from January 2 to August 27, 1993, there was genuine cause for worry about wether or not the June 12 date for the election would come, and be fulfilled. Nov, June 12 had come, the election had been held and acclaimed to be free and fair, and results were being released! So why should I not glow?
When therefore I was told that the NEC had been stopped from announcing the result, I felt some weight that had been lifted off my shoulders returning, seeping through the ears, the nostrils, my eyes, even the roots of my hair, to the hollows of my body. What’s going on? Many days after the final results were supposed to have been released, they were still there, in the office of NEC, trapped there by humiliating Court rulings and conspicuous executive meddlesomeness. On June 21, I woke up in the middle of some disturbing experience and felt urged to inform Mr. President that he should ensure that if we had nothing else to celebrate in Nigeria we should be able to continue to celebrate PEACE. The letter is one of the three published in Part One of this presentation to you and to posterity, the other two letters having been written to Chief Abiola who I believed could make the difference in giving us international recognition and creating an environment for the energies of Nigerians to be librated in their various pursuits if he worked hard to win. I gave detailed briefs and what I believed he had to do, if he wanted to win the ticket of the SDP and indeed the election itself.
I must quickly explain that I would have done a letter to Tofa if I had known him, if I had a record of his performance. I did write to General Yakubu Gowon the same time I wrote to Chief Abiola because I believed that a contest between Chief Abiola and General Gowon would give the election some clout and make the international community take seriously the decision of the military to return to the barracks. But my friend Funso told me that they of the NRC did not want any military man and that General Gowon would not scale even the initial hurdles. He turned out to be right, he himself having scaled all hurdles to have been the NRC presidential choice from Lagos State.
The annulment of the election announced on an unsigned piece of paper put me on edge. Why would the election be annulled when the body to pronounce on it had not met! Why would the announcement be made by Nduka Irabor, Press Secretary to the Vice President, and not Chief Duro Onabule who had been the president’s mouthpiece for eight years? Of course, Admiral Augustus Aikhomu, Vice President, would never be party to such short-circuiting measures. I began to wonder if President Babangida was not already a victim of a palace coup, being undertaken by thepowers he himself had installed to the visible discomfiture of some others.
I decided I would keep a diaryfrom June 24, a day after the annulment was announced, until August 28, a day after the August 27 that the military had told Nigerians they were going to quit the stage. Since Chief Obafemi Awolowo’s diary put him in trouble because of his Flashes of Inspiration, I have been reluctant to keep a diary but this event that was going to see a lot of water pass under the bridge was too overpowering for me to keep to my promise not keep a diary.
The diary was kept from day to day and it analysed issues as they occurred. If there was anything I was sure of, I knew for a fact that the world would not end on August 27 and that if the problems we were going to create for ourselves by the annulment were not resolved early enough, then it would be August 27 that would mark the beginning of our travails. Part Two of this presentation therefore contains my documentation of what happened and how I perceived them. I have had to remove some names in certaincases where I believed that it was proper so to do.
Part Three was ‘advised’ after I emerged from a spiritual festival and I therefore did a letter to General Sanni Abacha, instead of Chief Ernest Shonekan, on how the problems should be resolved. I even went to as many of persons listed as I could to discuss the contents of the letter. There was not one person who did not accept my point of view.
I want to say that I have not the luxury of denying myself food because one must be pushed to join the hoard in national supplication through fasting in a wretched bid to ask God to help demolish the House of Horror we built with our hands. I know as a fat that His ways are anchored in the Law and that the Law dictates that it is what we sow that we shall reap. Why would we hold meetings in little groups expanding from day to day into one giant forum or the other to programme for our rigid Postures and expect God to come down and make Nigeria One! No, we are planning from disintegration in our many enclaves and we shall reap the fruits of disintegration. Fasting will never work in the circumstance and I declare that I shall not join the crowd.
It is because we are asking God to do for us what we can do for ourselves if we are serious that I am reporting this generation to the future so that we can be judged by those who would be better streamlined to spiritually understand the meaning and import of freedom and therefore justice. Born on November 1, 1993, this child and his generation that will judge us thirty years hence in the year 2024 would be most equipped to do so. I am therefore in the appendix in which the letter dated November 1, 2024 is published, documenting the names of those of our leaders in active service today to whom copies of the letter published in Part Three were sent so that they could take necessary steps before things get out of hand. The youngest of these political actors would be in his late 50’s at the time our children who are 30 years in the year 2024 would be putting them on trial, dead or alive.
I concede that there may well be no central theme to this publication. It is a roving chronicle from which you may be hit by a thought of what danger this country is in and join the vanguard of those who work with THOUGHT FORMS to supplicate in the building of a national edifice in which those who believe that Nigeria does not just have a future but a MISION may live in and participate actively and conciousely in the fufilment of His Will. May the Lord grant. Amen.
Prince Tony Momoh
Minister of Information (1986 – 1990)
November 3, 1993
EXPERIMENT WITH DISINTEGRATION
Prince Tony Momoh
(Information Minister 1986 – 1990)
Published by Efua Media Associates Ltd, Lagos
One thing is clear from “Experiment with Disintegration”. It is the illumination through soliloquy, of the opportunities Nigeria has had at key-points on its journey to nationhood to decide what road to take. This has been the challenge of CHOICE. Choice is a living volition, nourished to grow and bloom and bear fruit for harvest. It is the decision of one man, many men; of one group, many groups; indeed even of a people to take a particular road. Once that road is taken, the bumps and pot-holes and toll gates and good men and bad men are there to be experienced. The road may be as physically ascertainable as the Lagos-Ibadan Expressway or the publication of a document or the release of a press statement by one person or by many people. It may even be the physically invisible thinking of what to do and building up momentum at the level of thought to do it. All these are volitions, choices, the roads taken. And Nigerians have had abundant opportunities to CHOOSE.
On the political front, the opportunity to choose to belong to a politically motivated group other than Herbert Macaulay’s NNDP came in an ordered manner in the 1930s when the Nigerian Youth Movement was formed in Lagos. Less than ten years later in the early 40s, it had an opportunity to choose to continue to be Nigerian in both concept and outlook or grant full flow to the ethnic biases that were emerging as a result of the need to nominate a candidate to stand election on its platform. The choice to accommodate ethnic considerations in picking a candidate decimated the Movement, but the lesson was not lost on our budding political class.
The formation of the NCNC which was the only national party in the late 40s but whose outlook later revealed a grounding in Igbo ethnicism, soon provided an opportunity for the Yoruba to come together as the children of the legendary Oduduwa whose political wing later emerged as the Action Group. The formation of the Northern Peoples Congress to specifically cater for Northern interests was the answer, for the Hausa/Fulani, to the visible non-national choices the Southern and more educated elite were making.
The choice of a Federal structure in the 50s solidified the hold of the NPC in the North, the Action Group in the West and the NCNC in the East with Kaduna, Ibadan and Enugu respectively being the autonomous bases for political manipulations for control of the regions and, much later, the spring-boards for sustaining alliances with dissident groups outside the regions.
The 30 years that began in the early 30s saw Nigeria at Independence in 1960 as a country that was not ready to give the Centre a chance. The shots were clearly being called outside Lagos and the crack in-house of the Action Group which was not part of the Government at the centre provided an opportunity for the North and the East to continue to accept the sustenance of a political tripod or risk the danger of being part of a triangle with only two healthy limbs. They opted for a triangle with a decaying foot, had a state of emergency declared in the West and supported the creation of the Mid-West State but not of equally necessary states in the East or the North which they controlled.
It was a question of time before the problems of the West would affect other parts of the decaying national body. And the time came with the East seceding and the North leading the battle to keep Nigeria ONE. But that is jumping the gun.
The political parties that had established fully in their regions with solid ethnic support were emboldened enough to search for surrogates in dissident groups or marginalized minorities in each other’s dormain. The pride and bluff of the Action Group had been hurt by the emergence of Akintola whose quarrel with the party led to turmoil in the House of Oduduwa. In obvious desperation and with Chief Awolowo incarcerated in prison on conviction for treasonable felony, the Action Group could mellow for cooperation with the NCNC which itself had discovered to its discomfiture that the plums of office at the centre where it was in coalition with the NPC had affected both its capacity and willingness to defend the cause of its allies in the North, especially the NEPU.
With the West in disarray, two major groups were bound to emerge. And they did. The United Progressive Grand Alliance (UPGA) was progressive in outlook if it had to be compared with the Nigerian National Alliance which was seen to be more conservative. The UPGA was an alliance of the NCNC and the Action
Group in the South and the Northern Elements Progressive Union (NEPU) and the United Middle Belt Congress (UMBC) in the North. And the NNA was a coalition of the NPC in the North, the NNDP which was the Akintola wing of the decimated Action Group, and the Mid-West Democratic Front (MDF) in the
South. Each alliance controlled two governments. The UPGA in the East and the Mid-West but with grassroots support in the West; and the NNA in the North and the West. While UPGA saw the NNA as feudalistic and bent on establishing a Hausa/Fulani hegemony, the NNA’s impression of UPGA was that it wascorrupt and self-seeking.
When the elections to the Federal Parliament were being prepared for in 1964, it was obvious that there was going to be a great battle of the titans. But an election which saw almost half of the members being returned unopposed even where documentations showing intention to contest were undeniable, could only reflect a choice to rob the ballot. UPGA announced the boycott of the elections but this boycott was only total in the East where the NCNC had the administrative machinery to enforce it. The NNDP and the NPC equally were in control of the human armoury to ensure returns that were favourable.
If we bring the current political impasse in Nigeria alive, to the full measure of the danger which defiant lack of correct and morally defensible action poses, then a little more of what happened in the 60s is necessary. As the narration here seems to be indicating, we operate in a wide cycle of 30 years. In 1900, we had the Protectorate of Southern Nigeria and this was the first step to bringing the geographical entity called Nigeria together. In the early 1930s active political groups started to emerge and the foundation for political parties was being laid. In 1960 at Independence, three political parties carrying ethnic banners had been entrenched as king-pins in the regions they controlled. But the arrest, trial and conviction of Chief Obafemi Awolowo, one of the three main movers on the Nigerian political scene, made the West in which the Action Group he headed was in power, ripe to be plucked. When therefore the UPGA emerged to contest the Federal elections in 1964, the NCNC was the obvious senior partner because the base of the Action Group in the West had been undermined by the presence in government of Chief Akintola’s NNDP whose lack of popular support no one
was in doubt of.
By December 1964, the Federal Parliament had been dissolved in readiness for the elections, and poised to win and rule were the ‘progressive’ UPGA which hadbeen formed on June 3, 1964 and the ‘conservative’ NNA which emerged onAugust 20, 1964. UPGA was led by the NCNC, and the NNA by the NPC. But early enough during the campaigns which were becoming violent as reflected inthe use of private armies called party stalwarts, there were complaints of malpractices. At the start of nomination which involves the filling of papers by those intending to contest, many Federal Electoral Commission agentsdeveloped wings and flew away to ensure they could not be reached. How do you file your papers when the person to collect them from you is not there! Insome cases, the candidates were kidnapped to ensure they did not reach theFEC agents.
On December 16, 1964, the Attorney-General of Eastern Nigeria complained to the FEC that UPGA candidates were finding it difficult to obtain nomination papers from electoral officers in Northern Nigeria. At the close of nomination, 88 of the 174 NNA candidates in the North were declared elected unopposed.
Chief Eyo Esua, the Chairman of the Electoral Commission did agree that there were irregularities and promised to do something about it. That was December22, 1964, about a week to the election. On December 24, an UPGA delegation handed over to the President of the Republic, Dr. Nnamdi Azikiwe, a written
protest of alleged irregularities in the preparations for the elections andthreatened to boycott the elections if its candidates were not allowed to file theirnomination papers in the West and the North. By December 28, two days before the elections, the President felt the irregularities were grave enough for theelections not to hold but Prime Minister Tafawa Balewa thought otherwise.
The elections did take place on December 30, 1964. UPGA did call for a boycott which was fully accommodated in the East and parts of the Mid-West whereUPGA governments were in power. Polling however took place in the North andthe West which were both controlled by the NNA. By January 1, 1965, thePresident had made it clear that he would find it difficult to exercise hisconstitutional power to call on anyone to form the government because of theobvious irregularities. But he discovered that he had no power to call on thesecurity forces to enforce anydecision he would have taken.
A constitutional deadlock was on the country’s hands. The Chief Justice of the Federation, Sir Adetokunbo Ademola, the Attorneys-General of the Federation and other eminent Nigerians emerged in that critical hour of need to proffer a solution, a reconciliation formula which included the formation of a broad-based government, the holding of elections in the areas where they were not held as well as in disputed constituencies, and a call for the review of the constitution.
Every ‘patched’ arrangement only puts off the day of reckoning. The coup d’etat of January 1966 was no doubt the way some elements in the military thought they could effect change of guards either for genuine concern that the country be saved from the inordinate greed of politicians or as expression of sympathy for UPGA which they may have believed had had a raw deal not only in the 1964 Federal Elections but also in the 1965 elections to the Western House of Assembly which NNDP claimed to have won. The counter-coup of July 1966; the massive rush of Nigerians from other parts of the country to the relative safety of their homesteads; the decision of the Eastern Region to leave the country and
establish the Republic of Biafra; the 30 months of brutal war in which most sophisticated weapons were used by those who lived together for at least 50 years, weapons supplied by those who are happier seeing us dead than alive;the end of the war and the massive recovery programmes to heal wounds – all
these were direct off-shoots of our warped sense of justice.
Some thirty years after the gory story of the 60s, at a time another cycle of 30 years would open, we goofed again. That we were ready to give peace a chancewas predictable as the political programme of the Babangida Administration wasbeing implemented from 1987. As a student of Nigerian history and psyche. Babangida was a gift to this cycle. He put in place the structures we needed to take us into the next century, structures that addressed the economic and political needs of the polity. Yes, they could not have been perfect. What in man’s ways is perfect! But they answered some basic questions, in the political areas, as to the units we wanted to operate with so that the dominant groups of the 60s and the decisive pride with which they called the shots would be gone forever. The basement is in place with the establishment and functioning of the local councils. The 30 states, from three at Independence, are in place with elected assemblies and governors. The National Assembly is in place with an elected and functioning Senate and House of Representatives. But the apex position which is the President is what has messed up the crowning glory of Babangida whose successful conduct of a Presidential election may have healed the wounds of the last 30 years. But another cycle has opened with the June 12 elections or hasn’t it?
The much time spent in detailing the fall-out from the indiscretions of the 60s that had haunted the last 30 years of this country’s history is meant to point to what awaits us in the next 30 years if we fail to arrest the present political drift. This is not the medium to say what ought to be done to prevent the harvest from our present desperate and panicky sowings which we are doing through
inflammatory speeches and publications that are a disgrace to journalism as a profession, aside of the various manipulated decisions of self-serving groupsmushrooming in different parts of the country.
The next 30 years will be turbulent for us, and for everyone else, but we can decide to lessen the impact by our resolve to revisit certain concepts that seem to have dominated world thought un-challenged. What does it take to live together? God did not create slaves. If you find yourself being treated like a slave where you are entitled to call your home, do you stick it or dump it? What
is justice and how does it operate and when is it done and when is it seen to be done? What ingredients make up accommodation – the accommodation of not just your fellowman but his views; the accommodation of some degree of inconvenience for the overall good of the whole; the accommodation of loss in a
war that has been gallantly fought. This little book heaves with the thoughts of the author boldly expressed. Its uniqueness is not just its brutal frankness but the persuasive making of a case
for himself in the court of the next generation, the generation born on November 1, 1993 and who will be a little over 30 years in the year 2024, the end of the next cycle in the nation’s history. He is reporting this generation to the future and
To You (The Reader)
This part is a collection of letters relevant to this exercise. The letters were written to two Nigerians who had never hidden their friendship – General Ibrahim Badamasi Babangida who from August, 1985 to August, 1993 was Nigeria’s President and Commander-in-Chief of the Armed Forces; and Bashorun Moshood Kashimawo Abiola,well-known international figure and Social Democratic Party Presidential candidate in the annulled June 12, 1993 election. I have had profound respect for Chief Abiola since 1978 during my editorship of the Daily Times, and for General Babangida in whose regime I served as Minister of Information from September, 1986 – September, 1990.
I do not claim to know the relationship between the two men but in the knowledge in which I stand, I affirm that Chief Abiola and General Babangida must have had something in common to have been close friends for 23 years. I cannot therefore be sold on the emotional claim that Babangida is a devil and Abiola is a saint and vice versa. If you have made up your mind that Babangida is the deveil and Abiola is the saint or that Abiola is the devil and Babangida is the saint, you may close this little
book and go your way. It is not for those who do not want to help resolve the problems of Nigeria which is being swallowed up in a world it has been too lazy to prepare for but which circumstances of the times force it to strive to live in. The arenafor the battle for life here is not this time the economic, but the POLITICAL.
This part of the presentation affords you the opportunity to ‘see’ what I had had to sayrecently and whether or not the hopes and fears were fulfilled. Armed with this background, you can live from day to day between June and August the way I had done in documenting part TWO. The import of Part Three will thereafter be self-evident.
Prince Tony Momoh
October 27, 1993.
This is the text of the letter I wrote to Chief Moshood Kashimawo Abiola on January 30, 1993 after he had declared his intention to contest the office of President on the platform of the SDP.
My Dear Chief,
RE: YOUR PRESIDENTIAL AMBITION
This letter is written with all sense of responsibility and I would want you to go through it very carefully and take it very seriously. On a few occasions when I had had to put pen to paper on matters I thought were serious enough, and these were very few in regard to you, you had always taken my advice. The last time I wrote to you in this vein was when you had reason to thoroughly re-organise the Concord.
You seemed to have taken my advice. It is in the same serious vein I now address this letter to you.
I am not a politician in the sense that I have not, since the travails of Chief Obafemi Awolowo in the early sixties, taken party politics seriously. As a young schoolboy, Chief Awolowo was my hero, as he was to many other youths who liked people who were bold, spoke the truth as it is, feared no one, and showed a remarkable knack for organization and self-discipline. Later, I grew out of hero-worshipping human
beings because I discovered, in the knowledge in which I now stand, that only One has been, is and will be truly worthy of the type of worship I gave to a human; that one is Allah, the Almighty.
But I did not lose my sense of appreciation and respect for those who in my view had a focus that is discernable, a focus that people can identify with, even be critical of, but which can be pushed with honesty and dedication and commitment. You have shown some focus in profound concern for the human person, and you have reflected this concern in a variety of ways. Not just in philanthropy, in sports and in education at the Nigerian home front and even in Africa. You have also taken this
concern of respect for the human person to a level when you have pursued the urge to restore dignity to a race that has been tutored over hundreds of years to accept a status supposedly ordained by the Creator that they are to be hewers of wood and fetchers of water for mankind. You have a rare grasp of the problems of the human being and your life is a rare example of a life that would have been wasted through material denial but which blossomed spiritually, intellectually and materially, fortunately in that order. I wonder what it would have been if the order had been reversed.
When you expressed interest in politics and informed me in 1979 that you would be sponsoring our highly revered Simbiat to the National Assembly (may her path be smoothened for more joyful experiencing in this wonderful creation of the Will of the Almighty), I said then that I would prefer you to be the kingmaker you had been; that I did not like the type of politics Nigerians play. I said you were not the rough type for the jungle. I was Editor of the Daily Times then. You know how on election
day, you were humiliated before television cameras and harassed. And when you wanted to contest against Shagari, you recall how again you were short-circuited. You then had to withdraw and decided it was bye to politics.
I have gone this far to remind you of the seriousness of the points I want to raise here now. You have shown interest again in politics and I for the first time thoroughly vibrate in wanting you to pursue this course.That I want you to pursue,it does not make me a party man. I carry no party card, but I have respect for peopleas individuals, and strictly on merit. So, since you have said you would contest, I waselated because a high level of participation that will bring some sanity and respect tothe high office of President of Nigeria has emerged. Also, I did not sense theobjection that welled up in me in the past when you expressed an intention to takepart in politics. The relief I felt when you announced your withdrawal from politicsduring the heady days of crude and cruel Second Republic politics was the same typeof relief I had when you announced your candidature for office of President.
But what have you done since the world heard that you want to be President of Nigeria? It would be stupid of me or anyone else to think that you must have just inserted advertisements in the print media and then allowed things to move themselves. But I do not want to take chances. This is why I am writing this to you to put down a few of my thoughts on how you may have to go about this assignment
so that the Darkness may not rear its head successfully to frustrate what the Light may have ordained.
By now, you must have put together a core team that will work for the achievement of the objective. If not, this team is a priority. Not a team of praise singers. Yes that is necessary as part of the media-link. And not just a team made up only of intellectuals. It must be a team representative of groups and interests and disciplines.
To be at the beck and call of this core group should be the media men; from advertising and public relations to pollsters and newspaper and magazine writers. They must be able to translate what is being programmed into words and pictures and produce massively for use in all languages and all over the country. But the core group must reflect the focus which I have hereinabove identified you with. You are
the leader and you cannot but be seen to be in charge. The focus of the campaign has to be person-centred because this is your area of calling – feeding in the other person’s shoes. This is what determines the content of education; and what people should be born into, hope for and gain from living for.
REACHING OUT FOR SUPPORT
Because time is short, I believe you should, if you have not done so already, intimate those who should know that you want to be President of this country and that you are asking the SDP to endorse your candidacy. You must therefore reach out to the erstwhile SDP presidential aspirants, all of them, and find time to meet them before the active campaigning starts. You have to meet the warring factions in Lagos and get the market associations in Lagos endorse your candidacy and actively move for
you to secure the votes. Alhaji Jakande is not a power to be ignored in Lagos. Nor Hajiya Habiba Mogaji. You already have a lot of clout with the transport unions.
I believe that Falae was an aspirant who, may be because he started early, had a lot of structures on the ground. I believe you can reach Falae early to help mobilize his structures for you. You need these structures which Falae, Saraki, Senator Waziri and a few others took time to put together. Even if they do not want to help actively or even mobilize their supporters for you, you would have done the noble by
reaching out to them.
The governors are very influential and I believe you should map out strategies for reaching them and ensuring their support. Many of them were sponsored by the now disqualified aspirants and they therefore have no need to be committed to the politically crippled and incarcerated.
I have left our Yar’Adua for special mention because I know the strained relationship between you. If it has not been resolved, then this is the time to try again to bend over backwards to resolve it. Some people may tell you to ignore him and fight him to the finish. My advice is that the politician cannot afford enemies. Yar’Adua has the old PFN solidly in place and has even the old PSP in sorry disarray. He is therefore very powerful indeed within the SDP and it is correct to think of him now in terns of a Godfather. He may have fallen out with Kingibe along the way but he made Kingibe and I would not be surprised if Kingibe rushes in to mend fences unless he is affected by recent bans which I saw carried in a newspaper. Whether he is affected or not, I want you to write Yar’Adua a nice letter to inform him of what you want, to do and seek his blessing and support. The ball will then be in his court.
The area you may not want to tap is religion but you would be unrealistic not to use the weapon you have. The Emirs are your friends and you should be asking their blessings, especially the Sultan’s, for the achievement of the objective. Also should you reach out to other traditional rulers country-wide for their fatherly prayers for the achievement of this objective.
Chief, dig out your book on the titles you have had and write to each and everyone of the heads of the communities that gave the titles and seek the support of your fellow chiefs and their people within the community, irrespective of party affiliation. Such support is not usually, traditionally, denied.
There has to be a special focus on how the votes from the East can be acquiredbecause of the long-standing cold war between the Ibos and the Yorubas. If you have to meet the Ibo leaders and allay their fears, then it has to be part of your programme. If anyone advises you to ignore this point, he is either an ostrich digging its head into the sand or is out of touch with the mechanisms that move the nation
states that constitute this great country.
Last but not the least is a letter to be addressed to every SDP member of the National Assembly and the State Assemblies and to SDP chairmen of councils.
From the foregoing, it is obvious that you have to have a very efficient research group and secretarial outfit specially set up for the Presidential election. The group will work full time and be wound up about end of July when they would have had to write letters of thanks etc. to those to whom you in the first place indicated your interest to reach out to the highest political office in the land.
On our path at Auchi and around, everyone is being mobilized for you whether they are SDP or NRC. I have asked that Alhaji Umoru Abudah-Momoh should meet you and work for you. He was a Senatorial aspirant in Edo North but was not nominated. Yet he it was who visited every ward many times and met all the leaders at all levels. He is the most grassroots man who aspired to the post of Senate but lost the
nomination to those who came in for barely two weeks because of what money and intimidation were able to do.
For my part, I would not even do this type of document but for the fact that I do believe in your ability to give this country the guidance it needs at this time, and the fact that you have the international image to push our needs. You are the one I also believe can bring the African Americans and Africans together so that the Black lobby can take root in the United States as positively as the Jewish lobby has done for Israel.
One last word. The security aspect of these things can never be over-emphasised. And please do not take this point lightly.
Once again, I want to say that I am not a card-carrying person and do not vibrate in doing so. This humble contribution is made in my belief that you love this country enough to give of all you have to serve it. May Allah guard and guide you and may His Will be done. Amen.
Yours most sincerely,
Prince Tony Momoh
. I had the letter hand-delivered at the Abiola Crescent, Ikeja, residence of the Chief.I was asked to open the letter myself. I did so, happily, because I was impressedthat the security was in place. What if someone sent a letter bomb!
. This is the text of the letter I wrote to Chief Abiola after he had wonthe nomination to be SDP’s flag bearer at the June election. It was written on March 30, 1993.
My Dear Chief,
THE IMMEDIATE NEXT STEP
May I congratulate you on your success in being picked as the flagbearer for the Social Democratic Party at the Convention in Jos. This is the end of A journey and the beginning of THE journey.
You did receive the letter I brought personally to your house when you declared your intention to seek elective office at this level, and at this time. I feel fulfilled that you worked gingerly in stooping to conquer. Your humility can never wane and that is why you have to programme for the next step.
There are FOUR areas you must work on to ensure that the Presidency comes down south.
First is to pacify those who lost or did not agree with you within the party. You haveto have the Kingibes, the Falaes, the former party executives and aspirants, and elected governors and parliamentarians to work for you from the bottom of their hearts. True, their love of party is overriding. But they may be lukewarm unless the positive move is made to have them in the fold. These elements are the ones your
opponent will go for first.
The Second group is comprised by the disgruntled elements in the other party. But from what happened in Port Harcourt, I am more worried about disgruntlement in the SDP than the NRC.
The third group is the IGBO vote. Obviously you cannot have a running mate from the East. With the NRC having John Nwodo from the East, there will be a battle to lure the Igbos to the SDP. But you have friends who can work for you there. There seems to be primordial disenchantment between the two major ethnic groups in the south, and it is unfortunate. But you must have to erect a bridge to bring them together. And you must also gun for the minorities in the area.
The fourth group is the Hausa/Fulani. If you play your cards well without being too visible, you can win the Middle Belt and not antagonize the Hausa/Fulani. This is where Islam comes in and this is where the Emirs come in and this is where, most importantly, Yar’Adua comes in. I did not inform you that the person Yar’Adua endorses would be difficult to beat. Please, do not ever tire relating to Yar’Adua and
planning strategies together. The Party machinery should take over now. But you must have your
team planning and working and not taking anything for granted. And like I ended the last letter, please ENSURE you do not take the security of your person for granted.
May Allah crown your effort with success.
Prince Tony Momoh
1. Immediately after the nomination of Alhaji Bashir Tofa as NRC flagbearer, the news had gone abroad that the running mate was John Nwodo. This was to be denied by Tofa himself. Dr. Sylvester Ugoh later
emerged as the running mate to Tofa.
2. The letter was again hand-delivered but not personally. Francis who did was asked to open the letter before it was taken from him at the Chief’s residence.
Two days before the June 12 election was annulled, I wrote this letter, dated June 21, 1993, to:
General Ibrahim Badamasi Babangida,
President, Commander-in-Chief of the Armed Forces,
The Presidential Villa,
I left the country a day after the elections and was part of a small team trying to take advantage of the Paris Air Show to meet some of the creditors of Nigeria Airways who were gathered from all over the world to celebrate the latest the world has to offer in programmed technological development. In spite of the wars the world over and the political unrest in lots of other flash-points on earth today, I was happy that I was from a country that would soon start on a journey whose road had been carefully paved by you. I am proud and will continue to be proud to be part of your team.
When I was told that problems had cropped up in regard to the elections, I became worried, not because Nigerians, predictably, would make trouble whether or not the election went one way or the other. I became WORRIED because the oracles in our midst have said there would never be August 27 because of what they had variously referred to as a hidden agenda. Even more worrying to me was your name being dragged in the mud. Sir, after Chief Awolowo, and that was during my student days and the commitment wore off after I became aware of human foibles, the only person I have dedicatedly believed in and trusted is General Babangida. If what you have given all your time and effort and ingenuity to, and very untiringly since the transition programme was launched in 1987, is messed up at this last hour, history will not accept that we did not programme for eventual failure at the start. I deny that failure was at the back of your mind when this journey began. I deny it. Vehemently.
These are worrying times and I am putting my thoughts to paper before I am aware of the intricacies of the problems facing us at this time, having just arrived from abroad. I want to believe that nothing, ABSOLUTELY NOTHING will be done to tarnish the good name you have built over the years in putting the programme together and in executing it. It is a hard decision for you to take as our President.
But let history not mess you up, and let the world not misunderstand in its totality what we set out to do.
If we have no technological achievement to celebrate, as at the Paris Air Show. Mr. President, Sir, let us continue to celebrate PEACE. May the Light continue to Guide you aright in these worrying times.
One who still believes in you,
Prince Tony Momoh
The letter was sent to Abuja and received before the June 12 election was annulled on June 23, 1993.
On June 29, I issued this statement on the situation in the country and warned against over-dramatisation of the issues.
Nigeria is in a more terrible hold-up than we can ever imagine and if we must continue to live together, and there is no reason why we should not, Nigerians must weigh more than ever before the words that they give utterance to, the sentiments they express and the friends they keep.
The inflamed situation on our hands demands a most careful handling through meaningful discussions by and between the political parties, our politicians, our traditional institutions and the various interest groups.
It is most tempting to take positions on either side of the divide, to invoke fire and brimstone on those who insist that the date for return to full civil rule on August 27 MUST be kept, and to regard as spineless traitors those who call for an extension to the transition. But the decision by the National Defence and Security Council that August 27 stays must be seen as a point of departure in our attempt to sort out the mess we have plunged ourselves into.
Nigeria needs all the friends it can reach out to in these worrying times but we must be clear-headed enough to differentiate between those who see our problems from their perspective and those who do so from ours. It is most suspicious and questionable for our so-called well-wishers to do what amounts to calling on us to kill ourselves because of our self-inflicted political hitch, and for the same people to
keep quiet and unconcerned at the blatant invasion of a peace conference centre by a clique of white supremacists who do not believe that South Africa must tread the path of democracy the whole word has now accepted.
In these most worrying times, we must not do anything which will degenerate into inter-ethnic harassments. All well-meaning Nigerians must work actively for mature discussion and peaceful resolution of our current political problem. And the role the press must play at this stage should neither be under-estimated nor overemphasised.
Prince Tony Momoh
Minister of Information (1986 – 1990)
June 29, 1993
Some people were wondering why I should stand on the fence, because that seemed to them to be what I was doing at a time when people either praised Babangida or Abiola or condemned the one or the other. But I had said my piece.