As the closest ally of President Muhammadu Buhari, former Minister of Information and Culture, Prince Tony Momoh, has revealed why members of the Nigerian elite detest the president and did all they could to prevent his re-election.
Momoh, who clocks 80 today, spoke in an exclusive interview with The Guardian, noting that the President takes decisions that hurt even his immediate family. And his take-no-prisoners-approach is something which the Nigerian bourgeoisie is not comfortable with.
The former minister, who is one of the National Leaders of the All Progressives Congress (APC), also disclosed that Buhari’s promise to take Nigeria to the ‘Next Level’ in his second term means there would be no sacred cows on his watch.
He took a swipe at retired military generals who were opposed to Buhari’s re-election, saying they wanted national assets to be given to them to plunder.
His words: “You know that things are really very tough and rough. And someone said that when the going gets tough, only the tough gets going. Everybody will have to be tough to get going. Buhari is not going to relax his hold on getting tough. He is not going to give National Honours to those who want to ruin this country. Anybody who owes this country a dime will repay it. Are you not aware that the first battle has been won?”
According to the former Editor, Daily Times, the first battle “is those who have nine lives laid down their lives to destroy this man and discovered that you could count up to nine but not beyond nine. How can military men who don’t belong in the same party with you tell you not to contest election? Is that democracy? The answer is no. And many of your colleagues (journalists) were supporting them. You are members of another party; here is someone who wants to contest election in a particular party and you said he shouldn’t contest because you want oil blocs with no commitment. You want national assets to be given to you. Who do you think you are?
“This man takes decision even if it affects his family. Is that what you are against? Things are going to be tougher my friend. That is the next level in the area of fighting corruption, rebuilding the economy and curbing insecurity. Are you aware that some top people are responsible for what is happening in Zamfara State? Do these herdsmen who kill people here and there have money to buy AK47 rifles? It’s the owners of the cattle that buy those weapons. So, this man is going to tackle anybody who thinks he has more right to exercise than the average Nigerian. Nigeria belongs to all of us. No sacred cows. That is the next level.”
Momoh reiterated that his support for Buhari was hinged on the fact that he was “laying the foundation for a Nigeria that must make a statement to the world in the next few years.”
He averred that there was nobody more prepared to lead the country at this moment than the President, noting: “Since the 60s, he has lived virtually everywhere in Nigeria in the course of his national assignments. He has performed in all his roles and he has never been found wanting in any role he performed. He has been very disciplined. This is the type of people who will grow the world in the next few years and the foundation is being laid and there is nothing anybody can do about it.”
Momoh advised those who think he was making a mistake in supporting the president to have a rethink. “My eyes are open materially, intellectually and spiritually to know what is happening in God’s Creation; and I don’t take any step blindly. So, those who think that I am following anybody blindly or ever followed anybody blindly should really think twice and look at the steps I have taken. I have no human hero.”