Tony Momoh, former Minister of Information, has said that the North will shock those who think the presidency will be zoned to the South in 2023 by also indicating interest in the office.
He also said it is not mandatory for President Muhammadu Buhari to hand over power to his deputy, Vice President Yemi Osinbajo, when the former’s tenure expires in 2023.
Speaking on calls in some quarters that Buhari should hand over to Osinbajo in order to ensure the continuity of the programmes of the current administration, Momoh, a national leader of the ruling All Progressives Congress (APC), said the president would only hand over to anyone who wins the 2023 presidential election, irrespective of the political party the candidate belongs.
According to him, Buhari would not impose anybody on Nigerians as his successor in 2023.
“That is their opinion because it is not compulsory he hands over to his deputy. As far as I am concerned, he will hand over to the person who will win the presidential election, irrespective of his political party.
“Buhari cannot impose anybody on Nigerians as his successor. Whoever he will handover to will be the person who wins the presidential election in accordance with due process in the constitution and the Electoral Act”, he said.
Also speaking on calls that the presidency should be zoned to the South in 2023, Momoh said the North would shock Nigerian politicians by also indicating interest in the office irrespective of platform.
He said: “We have the South-West, South-East, and South-South. We even have the North. That the presidency is in the North now does not imply that the North will not be interested in the presidency of 2023.
“That will be the shock that Nigerians will have in 2023. There are 90 political parties and anybody who thinks he has the support can get up in the North and mobilise support among the political parties and contest and possibly win, irrespective of his political party.
“So, we are in a democracy. Anybody who is qualified to contest can do so and, if he gets the support of Nigerians, he will win. Even when we zoned the presidency to a particular region, some people still got up and contested because they have the constitutional right to do so.”
Momoh also said the Federal Government would bring the full weight of the law to bear on any political party, individuals, or groups trying to disrupt President Muhammadu Buhari’s inauguration on May 29.
It would be recalled that the Federal Government had, last Wednesday, accused the main opposition, Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), and its presidential flag bearer in the February 23 election, Atiku Abubakar, of planning to sabotage President Buhari administration.
But the main opposition party immediately fired back, asking the government to face its “self-inflicted woes”.
Atiku, on his part, also accused the minister of lying to Nigerians.
Speaking on Sunday in an interview with Daily Independent, Momoh said while politicians were free to talk as freedom of expression was enshrined in the constitution, anybody who believes he could abuse the freedom would be decisively dealt with.
He said: “Politicians are always talking and all the words they use come from the dictionary. That is the area of exercise of free speech.
“The fact is, when it gets to free speech plus, which means more than free speech, then in a division of labour setting, those who have the responsibility to bring order to the system will step in and bring sanity to the system.
“In other words, anybody who wants to disturb the order and peace of the polity will have his or herself to blame. Be it political party or any set of people who want to disturb the peace in the country, including the swearing-in ceremony of the president, will have himself to blame.
“It is only the person that is ignored that will think he has what it takes to be disobedient by undermining the system.
“Nobody, however, powerful they think they are, can undermine an established order. It is impossible.
“Whether PDP or any other persons that willfully test the ability of government to instill order and discipline will have themselves to blame. They will realise that government does not just have teeth, it can also bite.”