Tony Momoh
Prince Tony Momoh, the journalist par excellence, a bibliotherapist and cultural engineer is the 165th child of Momoh the first. He is the third of the four children his mother had for Momoh the first and his mother was the junior of the three groups into which the Momoh Household of 45 wives and 245 children were organised.

Sandra Brecl Brankovic of the Foreign News of Radio Slovenia Department interviews Tony Momoh

INTERVIEW IN ABUJA ON MAY 27, 2015 BY SANDRA BRECL BRANKOVIC OF THE FOREIGN NEWS OF RADIO SLOVENIA DEPARTMENT.

MR Momoh on May 29th the General Muhammadu Buhari is sworn in as the New Nigerian President. What will be in top of his political agenda in your opinion?

Security: Security first then stability and of course when you secure a nation and the nation is stable then prosperity emerges. Everybody want to prosper. And security problems we have now, you will know they are concentrated more or most in the Northeast of Nigeria where you have Boko-Haram operating and it is really unfortunate that we have stranger or elements of decedent or deviance on our own soil and occupy space and even hosting a flag. It has never happen to Nigeria since integration, since amalgamation in 1914.

So you must know what anger regenerates in the mind of people who really care about Nigerian being integrated space and have been trying over the years to have Nigeria as integrated people. There are hundreds and hundreds of different groups in Nigeria so the integrated space we have been since 1914 was even undermined by some people wanting to occupy the Land and Nigerian troops that are known all over the world as being strong bone and very positive in contributing to keeping peace in other countries cannot rescue Nigeria from the occupation of a rag-tag Army. So you must know a gentleman like General Muhammadu Buhari who in 1980 as a commander in General, you know wiped out Maitasine. There was a group they called Maitasine who was disturbing areas in the North like Kano, he throw them out and even the Chad, some people coming from Chad to occupy Nigerian Place. He took them, he almost got to Gemina before he was stopped.

So, he is someone who will not interfere in the territorial integrity of any neighboring country but will do anything to ensure that Nigerians territorial integrity is maintained and sustained. So security is number one situation on his agenda. Of course stability arises through infrastructural development like roads, health and other areas. And that is the only we can stabilize Nigeria. The minor little things you have in other countries like your water, hospitals and schools they are luxuries here and these has to be attended to, to narrow the gap between the house and the harmlot.

Corruption is the child of indiscipline. And if you establish order due process the backbone of corruption is broken and I can assure you within the first three months of General Buhari’s coming to power; corruption will be afraid in Nigeria not continue to be the mantra. Corruption is so official. There is official corruption that has been made official, when corruption is become a motto of government; it becomes every body’s business to be corrupt and you even now have National award for whatever you are doing which people outside see as corrupt.

So now there is to zero tolerance for corruption with General Muhammadu Buhari, and he hasn’t even been sworn in a lots of people are trying to behave, if you look at Abuja now, there are lots of traffic light fitting up all over Abuja. Why? People who were giving the contracts didn’t do it and now that Mr. no nonsense is coming everybody is trying to behave. Lots of contracts that were not done that has been abandoned for years; lots of people are going back. People who took money and do not account for it are now reaching out to account for the money. Nobody has told them to do so, but Buhari is not going to set up an enquiry to investigate any public officer, he will not do so but he would allow the law agencies to do their work without interference.

In the past, if you were accused of any crime and you rush to the umbrella, the umbrella is the symbol of the outgoing government PDP, you join their party if there was any court action against you they move it from the court, so that has been the thing so Buhari has no party for anybody to run to so they will escape prosecution. If it’s his wife who abuse the rules he will say please go and redeem your name that is how straight he is when it comes to issues. So corruption I can assure you our people have been saying that if Nigeria does not kill corruption, corruption will kill Nigeria. Well I can assure you that already Nigeria is killing corruption because Nigerians are some of the most law abiding citizens you have on earth but Nigerians will not do what you asked them to do.

Nigerians do what they see you doing. Don’t just tell Nigerians do this, do it don’t tell them anything they will do what they see you doingand that is the difference. The structure of Nigeria today is there is a reporting line from the lowest to the highest in the area of corruption. The policeman collecting money from passengers or driver will send a share to his DPO who will send a share to the commander, who will send a share to the IG’s office who will send a share to the presidency, so that collection process is on but if the presidency , the president himself does not want any share then the IG already has a problem because he won’t get protection from the presidency but if for instance he has a share, going to the presidency of course everything will do with, you know there will be a lot of bravery in doing what you are doing, that’s why I said that corruption , is not just official corruption but corruption being official. If you break the chain at the top then I can assure the days of corruption are over but you cannot say you wipe out corruption but corruption being official has been broken and it’s a question of time.

Is president Buhari going to reinforce the role of official institutions?

That’s what I’m saying, if for instance you breach the rules while you said the political powers nor those in the political office asked me to breach the rules, okay from now on nobody will ask you to breach the rules that is what will draw the line. From now on do what the rule says. If you disobey the rules then you walk into prison is as simple as that, he’s not going to go back to punish you because he doesn’t believe that the government that takes over from another government has the right to investigate that government in exercise of power.

Should then the new government probe Jonathan’s administration in your opinion, some people emphasize that it’s a necessity but some point out the danger of revenge the visual circle?

No! No!! No!!! Buhari will never do anything to undermine the power of a government to take decision. The Jonathan government had power to take decision, if it exercise that power wrongly, it’s not General Buhari to stand in judgment over that government but if it exercise that power outside due process settled in the law establishing the institutions then he will leave the investigation to the institutions he will not ask them to investigate, the fact is he will not tell the institution , go and investigate the exercise of power crime has no life span, crime is a crime and can open up the books on criminal activities anytime, any day and it’s not for the executive to tell the police to go and look at that, that is vendetta. No way, but if the police in looking at what’s has happened in the past reopens any file its their business to do so and that is what they are doing but to say we set up a panel headed by so so person such, a person to go and investigate the activities of a government you have taken over from, no it won’t happen.

For instance you can saygo and look at this subsidy, this subsidy that people are paying on oil importation that is not investigating the administration, it’s investigating how subsidy came to being because you are the ones who is supposed to pay now. If for instance there is no subsidy, we know that there is no subsidy, we know this subsidy is a scam, we know subsidy is a fraud perpetrated by a few people who are holding the whole of Nigerians to ransom. If he investigate it to know whether we should continue to pay and we discover there is a ground for paying them, then government is a continuous thing, we will pay but if there are no grounds for paying them, then we will stop it. That is not investigating Jonathan that is investigating a particular claim on a government resources that has flowed from Jonathan’s administration.

If I may return to the Boko Haram threat shortly after he won the election, Mr.Buhari stated that one could not expect miracles in the fight against the extremist, why is that? It was a kind of disappointing?

You know, Buhari is not a magician. Look at Boko-Haram for the past six years have been ravaging the whole north east, actually they even came to Abuja, they blew up the united nations building in Abuja, they blew up the police headquarters in Abuja, they’ve gone to lots of places. For instance the government of Jonathan worked hard to have them relocated to the north east and later most of the time in sambisa forest but then when the elections were to be held on February 14th, the government asked for postponement because they said they wanted to take care of the insurgency in the north east, that time they were only about twelve or fourteen local governments not taken care of because Nigeria has seven hundred and seventy four local governments, only about fourteen local governments were in problem and because of that they say they should postpone elections. The elections were postponed and they say within six weeks they would get the boko-haram out, this time chad, Cameroun and Niger had started co-or prating with us. Niger or chad, they liberated some local government area, Nigerian army wouldn’t do so or couldn’t do so many people believe that the performance of the Nigerian Army was collusive of insurgency because when they are coming to a town, without firing a shot they will take over the town.

They started with knives according to their leader. They said “we started with knives, now we have twenty armoured personnel carriers or tanks from Nigeria army. Did Nigeria refight? They just withdraw from barracks and then the people will come and take away the weapons that is how they were armed. In other words it was believed that there was collusion with the insurgents to really spread and undermine the governance in those areas because the three areas under this state of emergency were controlled by the opposition parties so it was believed that if you undermine voting in those three areas it will be to the advantage of the president. These were some of the things people were saying but what has happened? It was believed that most of the areas were taken over but I can assure you as we speak today that the insurgence are still in many of those areas that was said to have been liberated.

So, Nigeria army has some questions to answer when the administration comes in. because this is not the Nigerian army of General MuhamaduBuhari. General MuhamaduBuhari commanded three of the four divisions in the Nigerian army when he was there and he’s the only Nigerian army General whoever did that, he knew Nigeria army, he fought during the war, he was military secretary and so he weeps when he saw that Nigeria armies abandon ground to insurgents because he himself fought insurgency during his time. So if he gets there I think one of the areas he will attend to almost immediately is let me see my army. The army I left and what people have made of it now and I can assure you he will attend to the situation and boko-haram will be frontally confronted so that we get rid of this insurgency from Nigerian soil. So if we have not even integrated the people which we are supposed to be doing, we will at least reintegrate the space which the colonial master gave to us in 1940.

What could be the biggest obstacles Mr. Buharican expect during his term?

The haves naturally will want to continue to have but they cannot continue to have under Buhari because Buhari believes that the man in the street is the one to be catered for moreand that it is in the interest of the haves to ensure that they don’t have all that is there to have. That they should make sacrifices so that those who do not have can have a little, that in future will protect the haves more than they think because if they continue to have the collector will continue to collect and collect, he’s never satisfied with collection, he’sin satiable but those who have not will in time use force to have. So it’s to prevent the explosion in the coming ahead of us. All of us are sitting on this keg of gun powder, to prevent what is going to come that those who know the danger ahead, will now plead with those who have to concede a little of what they have to those who have not. So the only person who can do it now is General MuhamaduBuhari because since he started you will be shocked.

I’ve been with him since 2003 and when I went to interview him to know whom I wassupposed to work with, I was minister for information and culture 1986-1990 under general Ibrahim Babangida, the one who took over from Buhari so I have no business liking Buhari but my community in Edo State donated me to work with him because when he was in Petroleum Trust Fund (PTF), my community wanted erosion in the community to be worked on because erosion was eating up the town and then they wanted water and they wanted 23 rooms and they made this programme and send to Buhari, Buhari had never been there, he didn’t know anybody there and he approved these programme but before they will execute it Obasanjo dissolved that PTF. So in 2003 when I had resigned from the ruling party because I was not really happy with a party where there is no forum to discuss ideas and then my community said go and work with Buhari, this was what he did when he was in PTF, if he comes to power he may look up at our erosion “because the erosion is eating up to town” so since 2003 I have been working with him but the fact is I wanted to know the man I’m working with, so I wanted to interview him. I came from Lagos to Abuja. The first shocker I had was that he had no house in Abuja, I thought he will have a house in Abuja; haven been everything that anybody can be, a former governor, commander of divisions, chairman of PTF, former head of states, petroleum minister for three years and he doesn’t have a house in Abuja? That was my first shock.

My second shock was that he didn’t even have a foreign account, no, no foreign account and he has foreign accounts only when he went for short courses in Indian, in England, in United States of America and after that he closed all the accounts because the fifth schedule code of conduct said anybody in power should not have a foreign account and that’s what all of them have now. So all of them are in breach of code of conduct. That’s another thing but the fact is I discovered the type of person he is, this man since he started work have never had a query in his life, this man since he started work he has always have Spartan life. He has a house in Kaduna, he has a house in Daura, if you go there you will be shocked and this is a man who has occupied all the positions that there are to occupy. So if there is anybody to ensure that you execute the programme to try to lessen or shorten the gap between the haves and the have not, this is the man. I don’t know if you will like this but I believe in spiritual matters, you are the children of evolution am a child of creation in the area of belief I believe there is a creator, you believe in downing theory of evolutionkovitoheavenso. You believe that when you think therefore you arebut in my own school of thought, I know that you think because you are, you are before you think. There is a programme of anointing and we believe that anointing comes from God almighty the creator, he programmes what you can become. Although because of exercise of freewill you can become another thing and if you go over there we believe there is a place, a home to go to and another place is a prison to go to if you did not do what you are supposed to do here. There’s order and discipline in life if you go against the rule of the state you go to prison, if you obey discipline of the state and do well, you have national honours that type of thing we believe it’s the same thing with the creator. Now in looking at Nigeria, I was doing what I called letters to my country when I was minister of information and I said Nigeria doesn’t just have a future, Nigeria have a mission. I didn’t know what that mission was until we return to civil rule in 1999 and I started writing a series every week, the title is democracy watch a monitors diary, they are in three volumes. I monitored our democracy for twelve years every week and I was pointing to the constitution and then the roles each of the organs was supposed to play, I later discovered the mission of Nigeria and that mission of Nigeria is to help grow not just Nigeria but the earth within the next twenty years there’s nothing anybody can do about it. Americans said Nigeria will collapse by 2015 and I wrote a piece in 2006 will Nigeria collapse? I analyze it from what Americans are saying “Nigeria will collapse” but Nigeria is not a material entity, Nigeria is not a country that evolved but Nigeria is like America, like human beings, they are creatures of the creator almighty and there’s a programme for Nigeria. God has a programme for Nigeria I said and I said Nigeria is the only federation packaged in the first half of the last century that is still standing all others have collapsed and I said because of the spiritual dimension to life. My analysis is that Americans are right when you look at the material dimension to life, Americans are wrong when you look at the spiritual dimension to life and I have no other witness than date 2015 when we get to 2015 we’ll know who is right whether its Tony Momoh or America, what I’m saying now is that in the programme of Nigeria to grow the earth, the spiritual dimension to life is more active in the Nigerian today than any other human being on earth. I’m left to be corrected, in other words the world is not going to be driven critically by the intellects, the intellects is a product of the brain and all the PhDs die when someone dies, we put the body in the grave and the one who says I am, my head, my degrees leaves the body and there are cells of existence upwards or downwards that they go to, you must come to recognition of those existences and that recognition is going to drive the world within the next few years and Nigeria will be key in that area of worship,spiritual. Do you know why? I’m sorry to take this but that’s the thing, do you know why? Nigerian schools are decrepit, they are not recognized anywhere, they are not identified anywhere, no Nigerian university is registered among the first one thousand in the world. But the fact is those who leave this so called unrecognized universities when they get to America the highly schools within three months they are leading everybody it’s because of spiritual dimension to life that Nigerians are manifesting now. While other parts of the world are still emphasizing the intellectual dimension, coqitoeqo sun is the emphases but am saying you think because you are that is an area man must look to and in the area in my own recognitions, someone is sent to a particular area to lay the foundation and that’s where Buhari comes in he may not even know it but with due respect I know it and that’s why I’ve always been with him since 2003 when even said he’s not going to contest again, I said shut-up you are going to contest because 2003 he failed,2007 he failed,2011 he failed he said no I won’t do it again and I said no he will do it and by God’s grace he has succeeded now, so what I’m saying is that the foundation for what to come is being laid now.

Well more than half of the Nigerian population lives below the poverty line despite the country’s high economic growth in the past few years, Nigerian GDP growth rate further declined and the oil prices failed dramatically. What do you think the new government will do?

Let me tell you, since general Buhari was head of states, when oil price was about nine to ten dollars per barrel we survived, you see Nigeria have made more money during the time of Jonathan from 2010 to now than since independence to 1999 put together since the whole of independence since 1960 to 1999 all the money we have bring is not up to the money that Jonathan made. Now when Obasanjo left, he left a lot in money indicating excess crude account of course the reserve, Yar’adua died, Jonathan took over and he left a lot of money then Jonathan made a lot of money from oil crude, the money that Obasanjo left that yar’adua left has been blown; Obasanjo paid our debts with owed to Paris club twelve billion dollars in 2006, now Jonathan all the money we had was blown during Jonathan’s administration and then the amount we have discovered in the last few weeks, sixty billion dollars indebtedness, three days ago the minister of finance Okonjo Iweala said it’s not sixty billion dollars but its sixty-three billion dollars being owed both externally and internally but she tried to break it down that it’s not only the federal government but the state governments, but the fact is that it’s during the administration of Jonathan that we have sixty-three billion dollars owed. I worked it out and it was mind blowing that if you reduce it to naira at N248 to the dollar and Nigeria wants to repay the debts paying five billion naira a month it will take us 228 years to repay the debt that Jonathan is leaving for us, our children, their children and their children-children. So you see how mind blowing it is but let me tell you, that money in nine cases out of ten was diverted or products of fictions, fraud. When they say for instance subsidy and then they are going to download fuel of 600 tons, let us say it 600 tons they are going to download, we know that that 600 tons they say they are downloading they will register it about times two that’s is 1,200 tons and you pay on the landing of 1,200 tons instead of 600 tons, that is how through paper fraud government has been paying for what Nigerians did not consume. So that one I can assure you will beat down how much we’ll pay that is the first phase because someone when General Muhamadu Buhari won the election told me he said, “eh! Some people are dead” I said what do you mean, he said subsidy has been reduced by half, I asked what do you mean? He illustrated it, he said the paper thing is that once the thing lands, they double it and then it goes through the system and they collect money and share itthen the pipelines are blown regularly and then those who repair the pipeline come in to repair then and there is always a corporation between the blowers of pipeline and repairers of pipeline, you can see the fraud on the system and then all the big government agencies, NIMASA, NPA, ports authorities and all others bodies that earn big money what they do is they sit down collect what they like and pay the rest to federation account but the constitution says every kobo earned by any agency for government should be paid to federation account and shared among the states so you can now see that a lot of diversion will take place if for instance let’s say a particular agency earns 100 Billion naira a month it will pay about 70 billion naira into federation account and pocket 30 billion naira, no by that agency but will be shared among government body institutions. All that will stop then the other area is where corruption has been made official, where for instance the personage A has ministry A reporting to it and personage B has another ministry reporting to it, so every quarters this is how much you return and all these were been don up to the presidency and all these things are being done and if you don’t make your returns regularly you are removed. All these will stop because General Buhari is not going to have anybody reporting to him and if you don’t report to the highest authority you will be afraid to collect anything because it’s going to be a whistle blower, so within three, four months I can assure you money earned by Nigerians will be flowing into the PT for us to address the critical issue of the infrastructural development, critical issues of securing the system and other issues of development, the money will come.

Thank you.

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