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Prominent Niger Delta militants have vowed to ensure that President Goodluck Jonathan wins the February 14 presidential election.
Leading online medium, PREMIUM TIMES yesterday reported the former militants as saying that any attempt to dethrone the President would be seen as a direct attack on the Ijaw nation and threatening to unleash violence on the country if Mr. Jonathan lost his re-election bid. According to them, the President’s victory in the election is not negotiable.
The former militant leaders took the position on Friday at the Government House, Yenagoa, the Bayelsa State capital, at an enlarged meeting that was attended by all the former militant leaders and their followers across the Niger Delta region.
Among those in attendance were Alhaji Mujahid Dokubo-Asari, leader, Niger Delta Peoples Volunteer Force; Victor Ben Ebikabowei, popularly known as Boy Loaf; and Government Ekpudomenowei, also widely known as Tompolo.
Also mentioned as present at the meeting were the Special Adviser to the President on Niger Delta Affairs and chairman of the Amnesty Implementation Committee, Kingsley Kuku; Bayelsa state Governor, Seriake Dickson and his deputy; and the President-General of Ijaw Youth Council, Udengs Eradiri.
The report said Dokubo-Asari deplored what he alleged as the intimidation being meted to the people of the Ijaw stock in Nigeria, saying the people cannot take it any longer.
”For every Goliath, God created a David. For every Pharoah, there is a Moses. We are going to war. Everyone of you should go and fortify yourself,” he was quoted to have said. He advised those at the meeting to be ready for the battle ahead and declared that Mr. Jonathan would win re-election.
Alhaji Dokubo-Asari, who condemned the attack on Jonathan in the north in the ongoing presidential campaigns, maintained that the survival of the Ijaw nation rests in the hands of the militants gathered at the meeting.
On his part, Boyloaf condemned the attack on President Jonathan in the north, saying nobody has the monopoly of violence.
He said there is nothing like one Nigeria, and maintained that oil is the only thing binding Nigeria’s diverse nationalities together.
While insisting that President Jonathan would win the election, he said if the north takes the power away from Mr. Jonathan, the people of the Niger Delta region would take their oil back. He stressed the need for oneness of purpose among the people, urging them to keep their grudges aside and face the present challenges facing the Ijaw nation.
“Keep grudges and sentiments apart. We are ready to match them bumper to bumper,” Boyloaf was quoted to have said.
In his remark, Governor Dickson thanked the former militant leaders for their resolve to back the re-election of President Jonathan with greater vigour and assured them that he would relate their position to the President.
He urged them to resist the temptation of being recruited by the opposition to destabilize the state. The governor also charged them to shun propaganda and blackmail.
In a similar development, Northerners in Bayelsa State have begun fleeing back to their states against the backdrop of recent attacks on President Jonathan during his campaigns in some states in the northern part of the country and threats of reprisal by the Ijaw Youth Council (IYC).
Our correspondent who visited the Tombia market in Bayelsa reports that the market and other areas where majority of the Hausa traders do their business, now looked deserted, without the usual hustle and bustle and with an insignificant number of people seen around.
Reacting to the development, Alhaji Dahiru Yau Katsina, leader of the Hausa community in the state lamented the mass exodus of the Hausa indigenes, despite assurances of their safety by the security agencies.
Alhaji Katsina said the security agencies had in a meeting told them to inform their subjects that adequate security has been provided to protect lives and property during and after the elections. He added that they were cautioned against travelling, which might result in accidents and loss of their properties.
He wondered why people could still embark on the mass exit when they have been living in harmony with their host communities, stressing that he called to complain to the managers of most of the Northern state transport companies over the development. The transporters, he said, however, replied they were merely performing their duties of transportation.
Alhaji Katsina attributed the mass exodus partly to some people’s interest to go home and cast their votes. He noted that due to the security situation in the north, many of the people who registered at home had fled to other states for safety.
Yau Katsina, who said he has been in Bayelsa state before its creation, averred that the Hausa community has resolved to vote massively for the candidates of their choice, irrespective of ethnic or tribal attachments.
According to him, what Nigerians want are leaders who would address the problems of the masses such as unemployment, insecurity and infrastructure so that Nigerians can live happily in any part of the country they choose to settle to do their business.