Prince Tony Momoh, elder statesman and former Minister of Information in this interview with TEMIDAYO AKINSUYI, speaks on Nigeria’s 59th Independence anniversary and other issues of national interests. Excerpts:
As Nigeria marks 59 years of Independence today, how will you describe the journey so far?
We have shown how we cannot grow unless we put development before democracy. We are celebrating democracy, not development. Democracy is a way we have chosen to govern the system, just like choosing other forms of government such as monarchy, military rule and so on.
There is nowhere in Nigeria where there is democracy without development. Anywhere you have recurrent overshadowing capital, then it is important to go back to the drawing board. Recurrent should not be more than 20 to 25 per cent.
What about threat from Indigenous People of Biafra (IPOB), which has threatened to secede owing to alleged marginalisation of Igbos?
Talk is cheap. Who told you they went to Japan to embarrass the President? I saw a report by Nnamdi Kanu that they have surrounded Buhari’s hotel and he can’t come out, did he not come out?
Why can’t IPOB arrest him as they have threatened? Is it not the same Kanu that said Buhari is Jubril of Sudan?
IPOB is a group of agitators who are trying to seek succor for their own people and that is legitimate as long as it is through due process. If it is not through due process, then they have the laws of Nigeria to face.
Some are asking President Buhari to dialogue with Nnamdi Kanu same way former President Olusegun Obasanjo did with Asari Dokubo during the period of unrest in Niger Delta region. Are you in support of this move?
When Asari Dokubo accepted Obasanjo’s invitation and came to Aso Villa, what happened to him? He was detained! Go and find out. If today, Buhari calls Nnamdi Kanu and says ‘come and dialogue with me’, it’s an approach.
Dialogue is always better but the fact is, how do you call someone to come and dialogue with you when the person said you are dead and you don’t exist?
What is the way forward?
The way forward is peace. Anybody calling for war will see the consequence of war. War never solves any problem. Rather, it creates more problems.
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