Interview Radio Nigeria had with Prince Tony Momoh at his office in Abuja on Monday 22nd 2017.
Introduction: The government of President Muhammadu Buhari will be two years 29th May this year. We look at the administration having gone through a series of efforts towards putting the country back on track. So we feel that you as a key stakeholder in the current political dispensation, it is better you also have a voice in packaging a special documentary that we are producing. Prince Tony Momoh is a former Minister of Information and Culture and a member of APC Board of Trustees; he is also the pro-chancellor and chairman governing council of the University of Jos.
Reporter: Sir, in the first two years of this administration what will you say has been some of its achievements?
Prince Tony Momoh: The fact is that, if you want to look at what this administration has done, it is better to look at what may have happened if this administration had not been there. Let us even look at what we met on ground. We met on ground a country that was for the first time; apart from the time we had civil war, occupied by people who said they were not Nigerians! Fourteen local governments in Borno State were under the complete control of Boko Haram. They even hoisted their own flag on our soil, saying they were not Nigerians! That was what we met on ground and the possibility of they increasing that territory became obvious when we discovered that the money that was meant for Arms was routinely shared by PDP to prosecute the election of 2015. So, on inauguration the president said the military should move to the war front and prosecute the war. As at now Boko Haram has been so degraded that they cannot fight any conventional war. That is in the area of securing the land. There is no inch of Nigerian territory that is under the control of anyone. That is a great, great, great achievement.
Imagine if this change had not come; perhaps those of us who are speaking freely in Abuja now would have died because the whole of this area would have been overrun by Boko Haram. That is the area of security.
In the area of the economy, by 2014 there was a warning that the economy was degenerating and that we should do some savings because we earned more than 100 dollars per barrel of oil. We were producing more than two million barrels a day and there was appeal to governments in Nigeria to save. They refused and started eating the future even in the present. They ate up what was already there. Obasanjo left money, Yar’Adua left money, Jonathan presided over eating and spending all the money and so when the prices of oil fell to below 40 dollars, what we had was not just enough to see us through the challenges! We just went into a recession we did not prepare for at all. So, we had a disadvantage handling the economy.
We also promised to fight corruption. When we came, we discovered that the corruption was just not at the top; it was in the middle, at the bottom, even bellow the bottom! So you can now see how stressful it was for those who came into government when they discovered that almost every part of Nigeria had been thoroughly compromised through indiscipline, fraud, corruption. Order had to be restored.
The economy itself had to be attended to. Jobs were nowhere to be found, and even up till now there is hunger in the land. But you know we have had some gains in agriculture and other areas, more so in the area of security, we have tried to stabilize Nigeria. All of Nigeria’s territory is secured. In the area of corruption the fight is on and we know that corruption is also effectively fighting back. The area of the economy there is a lot of diversification; and progress is made on that front in the area of job creation. It’s a question of time before the economy opens up and many more jobs than now are available for the hundreds and thousands of Nigerians unemployed to have access to. So I will score this APC administration good marks for what has happened because you will know the importance and impact of what has happened when you think of what would have happened if this government had not come.
Reporter: Many believe that though the government has done a lot there are some areas that are left with some challenges. As an insider what do you think these challenges are and how is the government tackling them?
PRINCE TONY MOMOH: We must know that Nigeria is not an island onto itself. All the OPEC countries for instance apart from 2 or 3 countries went into recession; and so, recession was not unique to Nigeria. We have depended on one product, oil, and its price has been on the down ward trend although it is now improving. We have a big challenge there, but the fact is it’s no longer going to be helpful to zero in on only oil. Unfortunately, we had problems; in the Niger Delta and the volume of oil decreased because of the work of the Avengers. Fortunately the government and the highly deprived people of the Niger Delta have reached an understanding and there is no longer sabotage of the economy in the Niger Delta.
In the area of corruption, lot of people says that the government is concentrating on the opposition. The fact is that those who call themselves the opposition, the PDP, were the ones in government and were spending and sharing all our money.
You don’t expect me who was not in the government to be targeted when I have nothing to hide. Those who have something to hide are those who have problems. Everybody should be in a position to answer their father’s name. Challenges are met head on. You don’t run away from them, or abandon them simply because people are complaining.
Reporter: So now what will you say are the prospects that this government has overcome these challenges to an extent?
PRINCE TONY MOMOH: For instance we inherited indiscipline, fraud and corruption and we must restore the path of discipline; we must restore the path of due process; we must restore the values that make a government a government; that make people grow. For instance Nigeria remains the largest concentration of black people on earth today. We should look at how we behave because every black person on earth today is regarded as a Nigerian, whether you like it or not. So, why not behave as representative of the black race! These are values that we must imbibe.
We don’t teach history; we should be able to teach history. We are members of the world community. We should be able to behave; there is hardly anywhere in the world you find the black people that are not Nigerians. So we should be able to have a certain minimum level of behavior. We should be able to be examples to others. There are certain values the human being should imbibe. We should imbibe those values and teach these values in our homes, schools, in clubs, in religions and so on and so forth.
We ought to be more of our brother’s keeper than what we are doing now, thinking of Igbo, Yoruba and Hausa and other nationality groups you regard as enemies instead of as brothers.
There is something unique in the Nigerian today. In the first quarter of the last century, there were many federations that were packaged but today only Nigeria is standing. It is God’s work towards the desire that Nigeria should stand for a purpose. We must identify that purpose, train to achieve it.
I have said without mincing words that Nigeria does not just have a future, Nigeria has a mission. Let us sit down and look for that mission and help to grow Nigeria.
We can never achieve any mission without discipline. There is so much indiscipline in our land, there is so much fraud in the land, there is so much corruption in the land! Let us clean up the corruption, forgo the fraud and get more disciplined in imbibing due process.
We have chosen democracy. We are walking the democracy highway. There are rules to keep and we must train and learn to keep the rules. So these are challenges we must confront, deal with.
There will continue to be challenges but we can’t throw up our hands and say we give up, otherwise; we have no business being in government.
Reporter: Thank you so much sir, we have been talking with Prince Tony Momoh, the Former Minister of information. He is a lawyer, a writer, an analyst and a BOT member of the APC. He is currently Pro-chancellor and Chairman Governing Council of the University of Jos.