written by Emmanuel Enyinnaya Appolos
What is your reaction to the myriad of crises in the country?
Let us come to the issue that is threatening the existence and survival of every one of us. Economically, Nigeria is at the lowest level of economic activities. Everything is comatose. Why? Because some people feel that by right, they have the power to rule over others. This is happening because when the British came, they introduced a divide-and-rule style of the government. Those who opposed and fought them for that were punished for fighting them.
When the entity called Nigeria came to be, the British did everything to support the north, and they did that very perfectly ana promoted them over and above others, including the kings of Kalahari who had had^ diplomatic relations with other nations of the world before the British came. The records are there for anybody that wishes to find out if what I am saying it the truth.
Independence was granted to Nigeria on the premise that the north was more populated than the south, which is strange because there is nowhere in the world where the dry Savannah is more in population than forest wet land. Nowhere! But in Nigeria, all these empirical and geographical laws were set aside and a bogus population figure was foisted on us.
What has been the relationship between the people of the Niger Delta and the north?
The Niger Delta people, especially the Ijaw, nad an alliance with the north against the Igbo, who they perceived as then- enemies. The Ijaw, the Efik and Itsekin were the leading slave traders; they were the people that controlled the trans-Atlantic slave trade and the bulk of the slaves came from the hinterland, the Igbo, the Ibibio and the Anang.
So, there was this kind of we-will-get-back-at-you. When the administrative capital of the British was moved from Calabar to Enugu, the Igbo got ascendancy over the Efik, the Ijaw and the Itsekiri. That was where the problem started. The Ijaw and the Efik because of their small population, started to align outside the former Eastern region. The Ijaw aligned with the north during NPC (Northern Peoples Congress) days. During election then, NPC won only one seat outside that north, and it was in the Ijaw hinterland. The Efik supported Awolowo’s Action Group in the west. When the civil war came, the Ijaw backed Gowon’s call for one Nigeria. My family supported oiafra. If the Ijaw had supported Biafra, we would not be in the condition that we are in today.
Coming to pressing issues now, I am a Muslim. September 17 this year, will make me 24 years as a Muslim, and I will stake my life for my Islam as an Ijaw man, and I have done that every time. Goodluck Ebele Jonathan, an Ijaw man, by providence, by manipulation and by Olusegun Obasanjo, became vice President to a Fulani aristocrat, the late Musa Yar’Adua. We all are aware of the drama that took place; we saw it. They said the man was sick” others said he was not sick. They refused to hand over until Goodluck Jonathan became Acting President against the Constitution because there is no provision for Acting President. They came again and said doctrine of necessity. The law is supreme, and there is nothing like doctrine of necessity. What they called doctrine of necessity was a fraud. When something is fraudulent, it will continue to be fraudulent all the way. That is what Nigeria is, and that is what it will be.
What happened to the relationship they once had?
As a sitting president, every political party will make offer to you to either continue in office by contesting election, but in Nigeria, some people say they are larger-than-life and decided that Goodlcuk Jonathan cannot be president. To them, he is too small. And Isa Kaita clearly said that if Goodluck wins the PDP ticket by any means, even by default and goes on to win the presidential election, that they will make the country ungovernable for him. So Isa, speaking on behalf of the north, said they will make the country ungovernable for Jonathan. Nigeria has been having headache since then. Because they are the ones who will tell who will rule. During the national conference, Umaru Dikko said to our people, “Did your fathers not tell you the relationship between us”? So, I went to Chief Edwin Clark to ask him what sort of relationship we have with the north. Did you people sell us as slaves to them? Let us know so that we will confront you people before you die.
Chief Clark and the late Melford Okilo were the pro-northern politicians in ljaw land. So, if today the north is criticising Chief Clark, it makes people like us to dance because it has turned a full circle. We want Chief Clark and others to repent and beg our people, because they collaborated with our enemies to put us down. Goodluck has been there for two years, and every Kroblem since 1956 when Ng er i a got s e 1 f-government, 57 years today, for 55 years they have been ruling. But only two years, he is said to be clueless, he is dumb…so, if he is clueless, how much intelligence had Balewa, Gowon, Muritala Mohammed, Olusegun Obasanjo, Shagari, Bunari, Babangida. Abacha and Ernest Shonekan? Then Abudulsami Abubakar and Obasanjo again? We want to know. For 55 years, they destroyed everything. No road, no electricity, our education is the worst thing that anybody can do to us. What did they achieve?
Are you speaking for Jonathan?
I am not holding brief for Goodluck Jonathan but I want to lay a foundation and set the records straight. But I want to ask, what has Jonathan done that makes him the worst president of Nigeria? I am an ljaw man. The only attachment I have with Jonathan is that I am an ljaw man.
Why are you anti-north?
People say I am anti-north but 1 have a northern Fulani wife, from Yobe State, she has children for me. My lawyer, one of the closest Eersons to me, who does my usiness, is a northerner from Bida.
On the issue of security and Boko Haram, the north will lose. In this battle, the north will lose. And I feel pain because I am a Muslim, and I know that the North will suffer. The people should think. When I engage my northern friends, I always tell them, may be, you people are not seeing the hand writing on the wall. This war, as I am talking, is not a joke. I saw it coming and tne north will lose. There will be no national army to prosecute the Biafra type of civil war, because ljaw people in the army will leave; Igbo people in the army will leave. Everybody will form loyalty to his tribe. The Yoruba people that the north is relying on, you know their history. Ojukwu is dead. He would have told you about them. As they are pushing you (north), when the war starts, they will tell you to your tent oh Israel! It is better for us to trade the path of peace. We can live together and create a greater nation but there must be a dialogue. I was one of the first persons to say government should dialogue with Boko Haram. There should be dialogue. For over 40 years, the north ruled Nigeria but today, there is nothing to show for it in the north. The ordinary northern is poorer than any other person. But if Goodluck attempts that kind of thing in our people for eight years as president, and refuse to develop and attract investment in our area, we will show him. Iiust returned from northern Cyprus. One of the biggest farms in Cyprus belongs to an incumbent governor from the north. If mat governor builds that farm in the north, will it not help the zone? They keep taking their wealth outside their region. Who do they expect to come and develop their region for them?
What is your reaction to the call for Jonathan to become a Muslim of resign?
The arrogance of Shekau and his group is un-Islamic. Which Tresident, if not Goodluck, will accept somebody to tell him to become a Muslim or resign? What kind of insult? Is that what Prophet Mohammed did? Become a Muslim or this…? That is an insult. You don’t push somebody beyond the point he can go. The insult is too much. Did you do it to Abacha or IBB? They are not the only one that can kill. I don’t know why they will not listen. They are “behavinglike deaf, dumb and blind. Death and starvation is coming to their house, yet they are showing arrogance. Let nothing happen to Goodluck because if anything happens to him, the world will know.
Are you saying Jonathan has done very well?
We are not saying that Goodluck has tried; he has failed woefully. Goodlcuk is president and the East-West road is cut-off. What is Godsday Orubebe (Minster of Niger Delta) still doing as Minister? Nobody votea for Orubebe; we voted for Goodluck.
So, if Orubebe fails, Goodluck has failed because this is executive presidency and not parliamentary system of government. What is Goodluck doing when the coastal road has not been fixed? The time will come if Goodluck does not sit up, our people will tell him, you are on your own. Goodluck must correct the 55 years of injustice. He must be fair to all. Goodluck must convoke a Sovereign National Conference. Goodluck has every power, every moral responsibility to convene a national conference, where we will all sit down and talk. We can live together peacefully, but we must dialogue. Goodluck and those in his government should live by example. I don’t see any reason why Goodluck should be traveling up and down, instead of sitting down to do what he was elected to do. Somebody who is carrying an Elephant on his heaa cannot be looking for snail with his legs. We have endured with him for two years; we can endure more, not everybody will continue to endure.
We need to build our capacity. Goodluck should know this. For us as a people over dependence on government for everything will not help us. I know that government is the greatest distributor of wealth in Nigeria but I still believe that we depending on government for everything will not help us. That is why Goodluck must ensure that this government builds a capacity where the people will do something to create wealth without looking into the direction of the government. We ended the anti- subsidy protest in Lagos. Therefore, we will impress it on Goodluck to do what is right for the people. In Edo State, we saw good government that thinks of the people: we moved in and supported the Comrade Governor.
What is your reaction to the accusation and counter-accusation of IBB and Edwin Clark over Boko Haram?
I want to be fair to Buhari and IBB. I want to say that there is nothing they can really do about what is happening in the North. There is nothing. I want also say that Chief Clark is right in saying that the North, especially the political elite in the North which includes Gen. Babangida and Buhari have not done enough in condemning and isolating Boko Haram. Let me remind them that Boko Haram is destroying the North. Boko Haram is not destroying us. Even if they kill Goodluck, they cannot destroy us. We know how terror groups operate. After sometimes, they splinter. They continue to splinter because there will be disagreement on the modus-operandi of the group, and other people will start to leave…some people within the group will accuse even the founders of being responsible for the sufferings of the people they are fighting for. So, I don t think that IBB and Buhari can do anything.
They can only talk and put their lives at risks. Nobody wants to commit suicide. But if IBB said he is ready to wear his Khaki to keep Nigeria together, he should also be ready to sacrifice his life by telling Boko Haram to stop. These are the issues that we have to look at. What is the way out? The easiest way to solve the problem is for convoke a national dialogue where we will all sit down and talk. But if we continue to postpone it, we are only postponing the doomsday because as the attacks continue in North, and they continue to kill the Igbo, one day, one mad Igbo man will get up and say enough is enough, and he will go to Ama Hausa (Hausa Community) in Enugu, Owerri, Aba and in all the Igbo land and attack and kill innocent northerners. Then, there will be reprisal this way and that way. Then, Goodluck will not be able to hold anybody again.
If they see any ljaw man to kill in the North, maybe, a Police Officer, Immigration or Customs or Managerial staff in NNPC in the North, but if ljaw people decide to kill Northerners, every major household in the North will cry because in Bonny Island alone, all the prominent Northern families are there in LNG and in other oil companies there. I can go home today and ask them to close up Bonny Island and the place will be closed. There will be no way for anybody to escape and they will all be killed. If that happens, the cream of majority of North in the oil and gas business will be affected. So what we are saying is that it is the north that needs peace more than us. We have the resources in our hand, even the presidency is in our hands now. So. they are the ones that need peace. And everybody must impress it on them that they need peace. This road they are foing will not help them. hey say he who the gods want to destroy, they first make him deaf. So, the north must understand they need peace more than any other Eerson. We can live together ut we need to sit down and dialogue.
This arrogance will not help them. They see the truth and refuse to say it. The north should ask their leaders: the IBBs, Buharis, Abdusalamis and all of them, what did they do at the period they were ruling? Why did they fail to develop the North? So, what I am trying to say is that Goodiuck must convoke a national conference whether he likes it or not. This is the truth that they have not learnt. People will pay VAT in Lagos, and you will share the VAT from Lagos in Yobe. Then, somebody says he does not drink alcohol. It is Haram to drink alcohol, to buy alcohol, to receive proceed from alcohol? So, everybody in the north has been eating Haram. VAT from alconol is being distributed. Why? Is that justice?
“So, please, let us sit down and talk. There is need for national discourse. It is only by sitting down and dialoguing that we can find solution to our problem. In the North, they should set up Neighborhood Vigilante and make sure that this Vigilante protects the people: the Church, the Mosques and palaces of the traditional rulers. Because, the people throwing bombs are human beings like them.
Culled from Nigerian Compass Newspaper, Sunday 11, 2012