2023 Senate election: I’m confident of victory – Abba Moro

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Senator Patrick Abba Moro, an erstwhile Minister of Interior and one-time local council helmsman, is the representative of the people of Benue South Senatorial District in the Senate. A staunchly devoted member of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), Moro is the Benue South senatorial candidate of the party in the 2023 general election seeking a return to the Upper Legislative Chamber.

The former lecturer and unionist turned politician is believed to have done excellently well in the business of law-making and obviously made his constituents proud with his quality representation. This could be seen in the numerous people-oriented projects and empowerment programmes he has attracted to Benue South, various notable bills sponsored and vital motions moved for the over three years he has so far spent in the Red Chamber of the National Assembly.

In this interview, Moro, poised for victory in the 2023 Benue South senatorial election, on account of the massive and overwhelming support from members of his constituency, averred that the All Progressives Congress (APC) government has dashed the hopes and expectations of the Nigerian people. The sagacious lawmaker holds the view that the triumphant outing of the opposition PDP in the recent Osun governorship poll, was an evident confirmation of the people’s displeasure and resentment towards the APC government.

Excerpts:

How would you describe the outcome of the recent Osun State governorship election where the candidate of your party, PDP, Senator Ademola Adeleke, in a keen contest, thrashed the incumbent Governor Adegboyega Oyetola of APC?

For us as a party it is a sweet victory. We won that election. We had expected to win in Ekiti State too. For one reason or the other, we didn’t win. And it saddened all of us because every action that is taken now by political parties is a test of 2023. And so for us as a party I believe that it was a very good beginning for PDP to unseat a sitting governor in Osun State. And quite frankly I think that it’s a reflection of the conviction of the people that the APC government at all levels has failed abysmally. And that is the message that the Osun electorates are sending to the Nigerian people and to the Nigerian government.

SENATOR ABBA MORO

Quite frankly everything has collapsed in this country. Our electricity – you have been here for just two or three hours now, electricity has been turned off for more than three times. Just under two hours. That is a reflection of the electricity situation in Nigeria. Of course, you’ve been hearing a lot of stories and noisemaking around Nigeria and the world about Nigerians going for medical treatment outside the country. Medical tourism now has become the other of the day, so to say. And that definitely is a reflection of the standard of our hospitals in this country.

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As has been observed, our hospitals have gone from being mere consulting clinics to being death traps. That is what we are seeing now. And people are a little afraid of going to hospitals in Nigeria any more. Even look at our infrastructures, our roads, most of our roads are nothing to write home about. Some of the road contracts that you find around are contracts that have been in existence for the past one decade.

It’s quite unfortunate and pathetic. For over ten years, road construction from just one end of the country to another – the Abaji-Lokjoja road construction – has been there from budgetary allocations to Sukuk or whatever they call it. It is still there uncompleted. The Nasarawa-Loko-Otukpo road has been there – a distance of about two hours is now four hours because of the state of the road and the construction has been on a very slow speed. And don’t forget that the life of this government is just less than a year. And so, what legacy is this government going to leave?

Look at the level of insecurity. From Boko Haram insurgency in the northeast now to kidnappings and abductions in the northwest and north central and across the country. Armed robbery is rearing its head now. For upward of six months now ASUU has been on strike and our university students have been at home doing nothing.

And people generally are attributing the increasing wave of crime and criminality to idle hands that are in our communities. Our educational system definitely has collapsed. That is the truth about it. The national psyche is very, very low. Everybody is frustrated. There is some high level of despondency on the landscape. And so, when election comes like this, people would say no, enough is enough, and they vote for the opposition. That is what is happening now. Nigerians are not happy at all with the way things are going currently in the country. Nigerians are angry with the APC government. They are disappointed in the current administration.

So, in your view, what happened in the Osun guber poll was clearly an expression of anger by the people?

Yeah! It was an expression of anger by the people. And I want to say that if I have the opportunity of talking to our governor-elect, Senator Ademola Adeleke, I will tell him to learn from the downfall of his predecessor in office. What the people have said (to the incumbent Governor Adegboyega Oyetola) is, look, my friend, you are not doing well, get out of the way! And so if he (Senator Adeleke) also doesn’t do well, if he doesn’t tend to the welfare of the people, in all its ramifications, as it happens in all democracies, a time will come when his people will also say, hey, enough is enough, you are not doing well. So, if Senator Adeleke does not want to face a similar fate and defeat like Oyetola has just experienced at the polls now which is a demonstration of the anger of the people as result of his non-performance in office, he (Adeleke) should work hard and endeavour to perform very well to put smiles on the faces of the people. As a matter of fact I expect him to spend 90% of his time and the resources of Osun State on the Osun people.

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In Nigerian politics, there has been this situation where it is always difficult for an incumbent governor or president to be defeated easily. Seeing this happen in Osun recently, what would you say could have been responsible for this? Would you attribute it to the new electoral law or INEC resolve to ensure transparency in the conduct of election?

Well, I think it is a combination of all of these. I think that they all have roles to play in the circumstances in which we find ourselves. INEC has resolved to do the needful to ensure that they deliver free, fair, transparent and credible elections. The Electoral Act has emboldened them with provisions that make it a lot easier for them to do that that is needful in the electoral process. And of course, the people are also there. The people have resolved to vote and protect their votes. The people have resolved to vote and make their votes count. What the people are saying now is that it is no longer business as usual. No doubt, the instrument for the processing of elections is very vital in the circumstances. But the resolve of the people is much more important because they do the voting. And it has come to show that governors and people who have been voted into power are not invincible. The people that voted them in can also say no, it’s time up! That is what it means.

So, it was a good thing that the National Assembly and the executive arm of government with the president’s assent ensured that a new Electoral Act came into being?

It is the National Assembly that proposes laws. It is the National Assembly that makes laws. So, essentially, it was a good thing that the National Assembly has enthroned this amendment of the Electoral Act because it strengthens the hands of INEC to do the proper thing. It empowers INEC to do the right thing. That is what it means. That now voting is electronic. Transmission of results is electronic. As a matter of fact, you could imagine that while collation was going on at the Local Governments in the Osun election, people already knew the results because INEC had uploaded all the results. And so those who were preparing to snatch ballot boxes and ballot papers and the rest of them were caught hands down.

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Before daybreak of the following day, INEC had officially announced the results and declared the winner. Isn’t that fantastic and a departure from what it used to be?

Yes, before daybreak they had announced the results. And so it’s quite unlike before. The whole state election that has thirty councils was announced before daybreak. It has never happened like that before. It has always been the next day. It has always been the next day and deep down into the next day – maybe anything from eleven O’clock or 12 midday or beyond. But here we are before 4am the results have been collated and announced. It’s a fantastic improvement on our electoral process.

So, should we expect a better outing in the 2023 general election?

A better arrangement, a better election in 2023. And it is the desire of the National Assembly to collaborate and support and help the Independent National Electoral Commission to do the right thing for the benefit of Nigerians.

At the end of the primary election conducted by the PDP, you emerged triumphant as the Benue South senatorial candidate of your party. You are going to face the candidates of other parties in the general election holding in 2023. How do you hope to defeat them and cruise to victory?

Like you said, I was very successful in the primary election. I have been re-nominated by my party to fly the flag of my party. And I thank them for it. I thank the party. I thank my supporters. I thank my voters. I thank the delegates. I thank the governor of Benue State. I thank my party chairman and all those that made it possible. And the next level is to get prepared and campaign to win the main election. Like you may have noticed in this game there are people that are naturally veterans who know the road, and in this particular case, I think I know the road. I know the path to victory. And I’m going to explore it. And hopefully by the grace of God I will win again. My people still very much believe in me. Their confidence and trust in me remains totally unshakeable. And this is as a result of the things I have done so far as their representative in the ninth Senate.




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