In this exclusive interview with Reporters365 in Abuja, the renowned activist bared his mind on the lingering crisis in the Niger Delta and also commented on the Boko Haram insurgence and war against corruption. Excerpts.
As a Nigerian, why are you saying Ijaw people are not part of this country, called Nigeria?
Who says he is a Nigerian here? Point of correction, please my people have never said they are Nigerians. Don’t call me a Nigerian. I can only accept to be a Nigerian when my people decide that they are part of this country. The minimum requirement for us to have a United Nigeria is to seat down and discuss the way forward as a Sovereign National Conference. If after the Conference, the South-South people decide to have a relationship with Hausa, Igbo, or Yoruba, so be it. With the level of injustice done to Ijaw nation and other Niger Delta people by the Federal government, we don’t see ourselves as members of this country, where there is open marginalization and corruption.
Every section of this country has one thing or the other to complain about, don’t you think government is doing its best to tackle corruption at the moment?
Which corruption Mr. Journalist? If you are doing something you must do it right. Corruption can only be fought in a society where nobody is seen as above the law and where nobody is used to witch-hunt other people, like they used former EFCC Chairman, Nuhu Ribadu.
If Nuhu Ribadu then can catch Alamieyesigha, what stops him from catching other people? Yes, Alamieyesigha, the former governor of Bayelsa state stole our money. I was one of those then that were writing and mobilizing people against his government before his problem with Olusegun Obasanjo and EFCC. So, I told Ribadu that as long as he keeps going after government perceived enemies alone, leaving aside Obasanjo boys and himself, not being investigated, he remains a criminal as far as I am concerned.
You are alleging that Ribadu did nothing with all his anti-corruption efforts, can you prove that?
To start with, how could a Superintendent of Police suddenly become an Assistant Inspector-General (AIG) of Police without following a due process? He can’t justify his promotion. It was a fraud of the highest order.
But this is not his personal making. The decision then was taken by the Federal Government?
This is an abuse of due process by the government. Tell me, what extra work has he done for the police to deserve such rapid promotion? Why is it that he has been going after Obasanjo’s enemies alone? It was because he positioned and promoted him to fight his political enemies. We are saying the way to fight corruption is to bring whoever is found guilty or wanting to book. It must be holistic without tribal sentiment. Everybody that is corrupt must be exposed and punished by the law. Ribadu is suffering and will continue to suffer because of injustice done to innocent Nigerians. He was recently appointed the Chairman of a Federal Government probe committee, he thought that it was that same period of Obasanjo regime, he veered from the track of the committee’s report and started saying a different thing from the report. Thanks to the Secretary of the Committee, Steve Orasanya who then challenged him openly that he (Ribadu) lied and should stop misleading Nigerians.
If we are serious to tackle corruption in Nigeria, the then Governor of Turkey’s Central Bank was dismissed because he had a deal with a company. In Japan at a time their Prime Minister was forced to resign because it was proved that he duped some people before he became the Prime Minister. Can that happen in Nigeria? Go to the National Assembly (NASS), PENCOM offices, among others, and see how stinky it is. We are not fighting corruption in this country, rather we are aiding it. Tell President Goodluck Jonathan that I said it. He is not fighting those evil corrupt officials.
One of the conditions that was rumoured to have influenced your release then from detention during Obasanjo’s tenure was that you are one of those that could restore peace in the Niger Delta, what has been your effort towards this?
You are raising another controversy. If not for the grace of Almighty God, Obasanjo would have killed me. How I wish you were privileged to see what was happening then at the State Security Service (SSS) under ground cell. Whoever must have told you that is the person that can justify that claim. You cannot shave my hair in my absence. How many times do you (journalists) want me to state the position of things in the Niger Delta? Government then was behind the crisis. Even, my first speech that was smuggled out of my detention center clearly stated what the facts are on Niger Delta crisis. Hear me now, the militants and cultists you saw then were not from the South-South, rather they were criminals gangs formed and funded by former President Obasanjo’s government to subvent the struggle of the Niger Delta people. My people were not part of the crisis. We were not involved. Those who set up the militants was unable to sort them out. But, I thank Late President Musa Yar’Adua for granting amnesty to the militants, which our brother, President Goodluck Jonathan has constantly carried out to a logical conclusion.
What is your level of commitment in President Jonathan’s government?
You don’t need to ask me that question. You are supposed to know that he is my brother and a fellow Ijaw man. Anybody who wants to scratch Jonathan in the name of Boko Haram, will see hell. We Niger Deltans are not afraid to say this or afraid of anybody, rather we are watching to see when Boko Harma touch him. Let them continue to destroy the North. They have killed and sacked all non-indigenes residing in the north. Time is coming when they will know the level of destruction they have caused to themselves. When they finish destroying the North, they won’t see food to eat and start eating themselves. There is no sensible person, even mad men that will go to the North to invest in any business. The Igbo businessmen and women who used to make lives enjoyable, most of them have been killed, while others have fled to Igboland, their home states for safety.
That oil they claimed to be fighting for, I am sorry for them, belongs to the Niger Delta. This time around we are going to use the proceeds to develop the Niger Delta region. We are the goose that lays the golden egg. Niger Delta this time around must be pampered , otherwise, we shall decide to own what we saw in our land.
But I want to sound a note of warning to Boko Haram, that they should remain and operate only in the north. Otherwise, the very moment they cross Lokoja in Kogi state to down South, they will seize to exit as a militant group of the north. They specializes in suicide bombings as cowards. But those of us in the South use the most sophisticated weapons to fight our enemies. We also manufacture bombs to fight our enemies until they surrender. President Jonathan as I said, must complete his tenure and go home unhurt. Anything short of this is war in Nigeria between the North (Boko Haram) and the rest of us in the south. If Jonathan says he wants to re-contest for second term, nobody can stop him because, we have been marginalized for a long time. It is our turn and we must enjoy it to the fullest.
Constitutionally, he is free to re-contest. Legally he is also qualified to re-contest and as a leader of the ruling Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), he is also free to re-contest. Those that do not want him to re-contest can jump into Atlantic ocean.