Skill not religion is required for the presidency – Momoh
Hon. Abdulhameed Momoh, National Coordinator of the All Progressives Congress (APC) Supporters Network, promotes the candidacy of Asiwaju Bola Ahmed Tinubu and Senators Kashim Shettima, and in this interview, urges Nigerians to consider competence and not religion in the election of leaders. ABDULRAHMAN ZAKARIYAU was there
Nigeria is divided along ethnic and religious lines, making it inevitable that all parties will choose their candidates, from governor to president, based on these considerations. Do you agree?
It is neither here nor there. Things are generally not what they seem. I agreed that religion and ethnicity are commodities we trade in Nigeria, enshrined in the constitution and even in our cultures. I also agreed that we should be sensitive to these sensitivities. I agreed. However, I wish you to be objective, between competence and these two issues, which would you choose? Some will say competence while others will say that the two can go hand in hand. Good. But you know, if we all say religion and ethnicity first, that means merit is sacrificed because of our primal feelings. Let’s not mix skill and religion, especially together. They are different. Whether you are a Muslim or a Christian is not a certificate for heaven. It is purely your deeds that would get you to heaven. Good people with integrity are not necessarily religious. And religious and pious is not a criterion for being nice. If you are religious, you are. If you are good and upright, you are.
Meanwhile, politics is a numbers game. This is the number of votes you can collect at any given time. If we have that in mind, maybe this controversy will be less. The late leader Obafemi Awolowo in the 1979 presidential elections had a Christian/Christian ticket. The late Moshood Chief Kashimawo Olawale Abiola in 1993 had the same ticket of faith.
I’m more concerned with performance-based developments. The All Progressives Congress (APC) presidential candidate, Ashiwaju Ahmed Tinubu, is an extremely religiously liberal person. Remember that his wife, Senator Remi, is a Christian. Not only that, she is a pastor. Those who criticize this APC ticket, for the most part, are parlor critics. Real people, on the inside, regardless of party affiliation, understand and, more importantly, care less about what religion they belong to. Religion or tribe will not bring developments, only performance will. It is these developments that people will need and vote for. So, it is high time to incline our minds to competence and forget about primordial feelings. Yes, it may take time to come to this realization, but we will get there eventually.
Do you think this will strengthen opposition to your party, especially in states you don’t control?
Yes, of course, but it is incumbent on all of us to work very hard against this and also to try to convince people on our candidates’ profiles that the ticket is not religious bigotry and refers to their past backgrounds. Neither of the two ticket holders can be called an extremist when it comes to religion. Tinubu is Muslim, but the majority of his cabinet while he was governor of Lagos were Christians and indeed from other tribes and states. Shettima, on the other hand, is another person whose views on religions are known. It’s in the public domain. You must meet Shettima to know that he is no different from Tinubu when it comes to religion. Have you heard or read what the Borno Chapter of Christain Association of Nigeria (CAN) has said about Shettima? I think this statement surfaces on Shettima.
Considering your party’s performance index, insecurity and others, does your party deserve another mandate?
Well, frankly, we haven’t done enough in the area of security. Insecurity was the main reason our party was elected. Our then presidential candidate, General Muhammadu Buhari, being a retired general, many people including the opposition felt safe that he would tackle insecurity. I agreed to that extent that we hadn’t done well. That said. Could you also explain the factors responsible for this weak performance? The weapons and ammunition needed to fight and continue the war against the insurgency are not sold on the shelves. It must be ordered. The manufacturer works to order. Orders, not purchases, take time to be delivered. Also, remember that the United States of America at one time even denied the country this ammunition. There was an embargo on Nigeria on arms sales, remember? The activities of the insurgents have been reduced to the strict minimum if one is to be objective. The kidnapping issue, I think, is a product of the heat the insurgents receive from our military. I think very soon this whole problem of insecurity will be a thing of the past because I am aware of the huge efforts the army is making to ensure, for example, that the Abuja-Kaduna is cleared for a smooth passage. It is something that can be verified. How many people complained about kidnapping on Abuja-Kaduna road lately? So please let us rally around our military and all security agencies to help us get rid of this menace in our society. Yes, there would be pockets of disenchantment here and there, that’s expected. Also, the government is not demanding justice on some of the country’s problems. Government is a continuum. No administration can solve a societal problem in a single electoral circle. Party A does theirs and leaves. Party B arrives, tries their best and leaves for another person and party to try theirs. It’s not true that people vote against APC. Let me say this. Who will vote for you, whether you are good or bad, will vote for you? Those who won’t vote for you, no matter how nice or religious you are, won’t vote for you. our side.
Has the APC done enough to deserve another term.
On the other hand, no administration since 1999 has done more for this country, in terms of infrastructure, than the Buhari administration. This is verifiable. The Ministry of Public Works and Housing led by Mr. Babatunde Fashola has completed more roads than all administrations since 1999 combined. Leave the feeling aside. The issue of electricity has not been the same since 2015. No administration has helped farmers like the government has. The Anchor Borrowers Scheme is a good example. There might be a controversy or two surrounding this, which is expected in anything in the public interest. The army is better equipped than before. Currently, our air force is ranked among the best in West Africa. As stated earlier, no administration in any government can start and complete all the projects in its circle of life, ever. Given the circumstances in which the Buhari administration came and given the resources available, this government has done well and the party deserves another term.
How does the APC supporters network plan to get more support for the party?
Well, the APC Supporters Network is a group of professionals who feel compelled to support the APC as a party, due to some of the obvious achievements and challenges. It is a support group of like-minded and independent people who love the personalities of Asiwaju Tinubu and Shettima and believe that the combination, if elected, will transform the fortunes of the country. Both of them have verifiable records. They have done well while ruling their respective states. They have become rallying points among their friends and colleagues. They are tested and approved. The network is there to solicit and galvanize voters to vote for the APC in the upcoming presidential elections. We are quite indifferent to the opposing points of view of the people, even within the party, and that is normal. Even within the family, you cannot have the full support of the members. It is your job to convincingly explain and explain why certain decisions are made. It is our duty to pull out all the stops and explain to our friends why we need to bring APC back and vote in Tinubu and Shettima.