MujaHId Dokubo-Asari led the Niger Delta People’s Volunteer Force (NDPVF), an armed militant group whose activities nearly brought Nigeria’s oil production to its knees.
Many actually believe that the late President Umaru Yar’Adua’s administration was overwhelmed by this group and browbeaten into putting in place the amnesty programme, which placated, in the main, the restive youth of the Niger Delta region and led to disarmament and the stabilisation of the nation’s oil production.
No doubt, the charismatic Niger Delta youth leader came off it a multi-millionaire in petro-dollars (some would even say that is an understatement); and so did his colleague militant warlords in other splinter groups – who were placated with juicy Federal Government oil-related contracts.
But it seems Dokubo-Asari is not content with his hard-won oil wealth; he relishes controversy too! He has been trying to dictate, almost to the point of brashness, who Nigerians should choose or retain as their president. On numerous occasions in the past, he had openly declared that youths of the region would brook no opposition to President Goodluck Jonathan in the next presidential race.
Perhaps having successfully flown that kite, he recently took that advocacy to a higher level when he addressed a press conference and actually threatened war on the nation, should Jonathan fail to be returned as president in 2015.
For emphasis, he stressed that Jonathan was the reason the restive Niger Delta youth sheathed their swords, and not the amnesty programme, and they would return to the trenches to ensure that peace eludes the country if Jonathan is not returned to Aso Rock.
For a nation still reeling in its overdose of security challenges and desperately looking for solutions, this is an advocacy too many. Prominent Nigerians, including the Niger State governor, Dr Muazu Babangida Aliyu, have called for Dokubo-Asari’s prosecution for treason. Even the House of Representatives has directed the Inspector-General of Police to probe him and his kinsman, Presidential Adviser on Niger Delta Amnesty Programme, Mr Kingsley Kuku, for uttering inflammatory statements capable of causing disaffection among the people.
But will he recant? Definitely not! He repeats the statements and says even more in today’s interview with Saturday Tribune. And he meets his match in the president of Arewa Youth Forum, Alhaji Ibrahim Gujungu who literally takes him to the cleaners.
It’s fire-for-fire – Dokubo-Asari
The leader of the Nigeria Delta Peoples Volunteer Force (NDPVF), Alhaji Mujahid Dokubo-Asari, in this interview with CHRIS AGBAMBU, speaks on a number of issues affecting the polity, including his alleged provocative comments about the 2015 election as regards the fortune of President Goodluck Jonathan. Excerpts:
You were quoted as saying there would be crisis in 2015 if President Jonathan did not win. What were your reasons for such a comment?
What was reported was not my complete statement. My statement was very clear; they must make Jonathan win in 2015, it is not negotiable. 2015 is not negotiable. We have two terms of eight years and nobody can stop us from having it. That is my position. They have been ruling all this while, it is our turn to complete our eight years of uninterrupted tenure, and we are not going to negotiate that. Now, a lot of people talk, like somebody saying ‘pipeline contractors.’ Such a man is a fool because the people they gave oil blocks from my own backyard can talk. What is pipeline contract? You see, they think they can blackmail us into submission, but that era is over!
The resources belong to us. The land belongs to us. The pipeline belongs to us. So, if you like, open your mouth and talk. We have said very clearly; that this is our turn and in any democratic setting, the incumbent is given the second term, and that is why just recently, nobody in the Democratic Party contested against (President Barack) Obama. When (Bill) Clinton was there, nobody in the Democratic Party contested against him. It is natural for an incumbent to serve the two-term tenure. Obama had a lot of issues – economic, foreign policy – but the whole of Democratic Party stood behind him. And at the end of the day, he won.
Now, people like Lawan Kaita said if Jonathan won the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) primaries in 2011, they were going to make Nigeria ungovernable, and the result is what we are seeing. The Fulani invaders of our country are always claiming to have control over the nation, and each time they formed alliance, the outcome was always in their favour. When an Igbo man, Dr Nnamdi Azikiwe’s NCNC formed an alliance with them, what did it produce? Tafawa Balewa. (Ladoke) Akintola, a Yoruba man, formed an alliance with them, what did it produce? Tafawa Balewa. Azikiwe’s NPP formed an alliance with them, what did it produce? Shehu Shagari. Each time an alliance was formed with them, it produced them. So, they are seeing themselves as being superior to others and some chicken-hearted southern political elite have always conceded political superiority to them.
You are not superior to me! If you invoked violence, I would invoke greater violence. For every action, there is an equal reaction. So, if Lawal Kaita can invoke violence, I can invoke greater violence than him because blood flows in his vein. He is human, not supernatural. The days when people who wanted to become governor in Rivers State would have to go to Sokoto and Kaduna to get endorsement is over. So, it is a very high degree of self-subjugation which the political elite want to subject us to. Go and look at the boards of all the multinational firms and you would see a retired general from the North, retired high court judge from the North, retired Supreme Court justice from the North, retired permanent secretary from the North, retired this, and retired that. Nobody gives generals in the South-South and the ex-ministers any patronage. In the past, there were certain offices that were reserved for them: the office of the NSA (National Security Adviser) totally reserved for them; Minister of FCT reserved for them; PTDF reserved for them; Chief of Army Staff reserved for them; Nobody goes there, from the time of General Murtala Mohammed to the second coming of (Chief Olusegun) Obasanjo, all chiefs of army staff were ‘Gambari,’ all the people close to them from the North who they chose to represent them. An Igbo man could never dream of becoming Chief of Army Staff. Even there was an Igbo General whose name was Omar Sanda; he never became the Chief of Army Staff. He was never considered for the position until Obasanjo came and, for the first time, Ogomudia became Chief of Army Staff; for the first time General (Owoye) Azazi became Chief of Army Staff. I have my grouses about Obasanjo, but he started the battle for liberation and today, it is no longer business as usual. But these people fail to understand that nobody comes out of slavery into freedom and then willingly goes back into slavery.
We were all told that Abuja, a no man’s land, was going to be the federal capital. Lagos is Yoruba land; we were building a new capital and they were bringing the Ijaw people’s money. They took Itsekiri people’s money, Ogoni people’s money, Igbo people’s money, Ibibio people’s money, they brought it here. What do you find in Abuja? Garki, Maitama, Wuse, Gwagwalada, Gwarinpa, Kubwa, Lugbe. Whose names are those, with other people’s money? They have to be sensitive to other people’s feelings. The insensitivity is too much and in 1998, the Ijaw youth gathered together at Kaima and said ‘enough is enough’. We got our inspiration from Ken Saro-Wiwa and we said ‘it is enough’ and since then, our liberation struggle began. In 2015, whether anybody likes it or not, Goodluck Jonathan must remain the president. Whatever magic they want to use, let them use it. If he does not remain our president, then they will know.
But what about the argument that the late President Umaru Yar’Adua did not complete his tenure, hence, the north should be allowed to complete it?
The constitution is very clear on this matter. Jonathan did not kill Yar’Adua. Yar’Adua knew he was sick and so should have said ‘I am sick, give it to another person,’ but the ultimate thing to them is to gain power and oppress others. So, we are saying if Yar’Adua cut a half of our own, or we cut out of Yar’Adua’s own, it is not our business. We did not make it so. Eight years uninterrupted; that is what we want and that is what we will have. Even after that, the North does not have the moral right to the presidency. They don’t. It should go to the South-East.
(Former President Shehu) Shagari handed over to Buhari. Buhari handed over to Babangida. Babangida handed over to Abacha and Abacha handed over to Abdulsalami. So, how many has the South taken? Obasanjo was the first executive president we have had, Jonathan is second. We want one Ekwueme or another person to go because we deserve it. If you are not greedy, how can you say in a federation, Shagari should hand over to Buhari, Buhari to Babangida, Babangida to Abacha and Abacha to Abdulsalami? In nation building, all the federating units should be equal. They should make equal contributions. These people did not make any contributions. They are parasites. They have no value. In any sphere of life, they have no value. Even with the money they steal, there are no investments in Kano, Kaduna, Bauchi, Gombe, Katsina, but if you come down South, you would see investments. They give monopoly to their people like Dantata and Dangote. They only survive on government patronage, and that is why to them, attaining power is do-or-die. So, all of us must make power a do-or-die game. I am not apologetic about it. For us, power is the very essence of our survival. As a man of 50 years, I have seen a lot of discrimination even as a Muslim. When I became a Muslim, it was difficult, even unimaginable, to see an Ijaw man standing before a Gambari and leading a prayer. But we fought and today, we have got our right. They don’t need to recognise us. If you don’t recognise me, then, I don’t recognise you. We pray and they follow us; they pray and we follow them. We have mutual respect. In the past, they married our women, but we could not marry their women. As Muslims, they came and married our women, but we could not marry their women. When they married our women, they treated them as housemaids, as second fiddle, but today, we have stood up to them eye ball to eye ball. Today, we marry their women. We have respect for them and they respect us. But as long as our political elite continue to chicken out before them and they want to form APC, it is Tambuwal; it is Buhari; it is Ribadu; it is this one. But I ask them, where is (Babatunde) Fashola? Where is (Adams) Oshiomhole? Where is (Rochas) Okorocha? Are they not in APC? That shows they have complex. These people who are forming alliance with them are traitors. You cannot dehumanise your people because you want to pick crumbs.
Who is afraid of APC?
Nobody is afraid of APC. They are free to align. I was in ACN (Action Congress of Nigeria). I was even the leader of the party in Rivers State, but I cannot be a traitor. My politics has nothing to do with party. My party is Ijaw. Any party that stands for the interest of the Ijaw man is my party. I have not formally left ACN, but I am doing siddon look. I cannot join APC for the purpose of returning myself into slavery. Nobody is afraid of APC. They will fail. Mark my word, they will fail so much that they will come and beg. Even in the South-West, they will fail woefully.
But people are saying Jonathan has not done enough to deserve another term…
Jonathan has not done enough? Colonial government left a working railway. From Yakubu Gowon to Yar’Adua, railway failed. They brought the Chinese; they brought Indians; they brought everybody to make railway to work, but it did not. Jonathan, within a space of three years, has made the railway work. All of us are witnesses. The Lagos-Benin Expressway was like civil war. I did not know about it, a friend called my attention to it. I travelled from Warri to Lagos within five hours on that road. You are going from Abuja to Lokoja, every time they awarded its contract, but the road was not fit. Today, people are travelling on that same road. Work on the road is going on at the speed of light. In the universities, students graduated in six years for a four-year course. Since Jonathan came on board, how many times has ASUU gone on strike? And they say he has done badly. Since you came here, the power has not blinked. Some suburbs have regular power supply. My cousin lives in a village and he says they don’t even experience power outage. Many factories that closed down under their watch are now reopening, and Jonathan has done nothing. Look at the scorecard, they can’t match it. Look at direct foreign investment, Ministry of Agriculture alone has brought in over $30 billion investment. Direct foreign investment is coming in. The Nigerian Ambassador to Canada has brought in $5 billion investment from that country alone.
A lot of these people shout because they are not in power. They have no patronage like us, but it is not enough because of their greed. At 50, in my own land, the house that I pulled over on our land, there is a float station, since 1999, I closed it down. No oil is flowing from there. They would give the OPL to somebody from Kano. This is the worst form of apartheid. This is the worst form of Zionism. It never happens anywhere else that somebody owns something and you with a piece of paper in Abuja, you give to a Northerner, he goes to my village to go and collect an oil block while there are people like Tam David West, former minister, they would not give him. Former Group Managing Director of NNPC is there, they would not give him. MT Mbu, former minister, they wouldn’t give him and do many others. What qualification or what criteria are they using? They collect papers, they look for foreign partners, they share 40:60 and everyday money is coming to their accounts. What sort of injustice is that? Then, somebody talked about pipeline contractors.
We had an experience in a float station. There was no water in the village, next to the float station in Kalabari called channel three, there is no light or water there. We went to the float station to beg for water, the guard there said, ‘yesterday you came to fetch water and today, you have come again.’ At the time the guard was talking to them, he was holding a hose to water the grass! He was watering the grass and he was talking to the people who came to beg for water. So, to the people in Abuja, the grass should be drinking water, but human beings should not. That is what we are going through. And surprisingly, the man who was watering the grass is one of us, but he had been told by the oil companies that the grass must always be green and watered while the people would not drink water. This is the squalor and degradation which our people were subjected to until we started our battle against them.
Are you satisfied with the performance of the ministers and what is your position on the level of corruption in the polity?
I am not satisfied with their performance and I have said it over and over. And I think there is the need for a cabinet overhaul if Jonathan wants to be man of the people. I don’t know the indices you are using for corruption. Nigerians have always been corrupt. So, what indices you are using I don’t know. I am not EFCC, I am not a corruption watch dog but I know there is corruption. I know that Fashola budgets N3 billion every year; I know that Amaechi budgets N3 billion every year; I know that Akpabio budgets may be N2 billion every year. I know that Delta State governor budgets maybe N2 billion every year. But the question is: are what they are doing commensurate with the budget they push out to the people every time. The budget of Rivers State is the combined budget of Ghana, Togo and Benin Republic. And after budgeting, the state governor would still go to financial houses to take facilities to saddle the people, born and unborn generations because of their greed. So, for me, corruption has always been there. The courage to fight corruption is in everybody. You see a civil servant whose salary is N100,000, driving a Honda car worth N4 million. How did he get a car of N4 million? He has three children in private universities. Where does he get the money to pay their tuition? How could a man with N100,000 salary put N3000 credit units in his phone daily? That is N90,000 in a month. How did he get the money? That is why I say corruption is everywhere.
What is your reaction to the call by the House of Representatives for your arrest?
Why didn’t they call for the arrest of Buhari and Lawal Kaita who said the country would become ungovernable if Jonathan won the 2011 election? They are cowards. They are, actually, the people to be arrested because of what they are doing to the economy of the country. I am not afraid of them.
What do you think is responsible for the cold war between Rotimi Amaechi and Jonathan?
There is no cold war between Amaechi and Jonathan. What is happening is that Amaechi is a product of a judicial robbery at the Supreme Court under Justice Katsina-Alu when he was given the mandate he did not get from the people. Our people voted for Omehia, but Katsina-Alu, in the worst judicial robbery, gave the mandate to Amaechi. This is why he is doing what he is doing. Amaechi is a traitor and come 2015, he will be asked to pack his bag and join the Babangidas and Tambuwals who are using him against the collective interest of our people. They are using him to betrayal our people, but he will fail.
Culled from Tribune