By IHEANACHO NWOSU, Abuja
Alhaji Mujahid Asari-Dokubo, leader of Niger Delta People’s Volunteer Force (NDPVF), is seen differently by Nigerians. For some, he is a troublemaker, while others see him as a sincere and outspoken Nigerian who would not keep quiet when things are not going the way he wants.
In a chat with newsmen, Asari-Dokubo clearly showed this stuff as he slammed President Goodluck Jonathan, who is considered as his benefactor. According to him, the President is losing focus and that may rob him of victory in 2015 if he decides to re-contest the top office.
Would you, in all honesty, say the incumbent administration is on track?
I want to start with an Ijaw proverb, which says that the eyes watched its seven children to death, instead of advising them it was just looking at them until they died while the mouth talked its only child to life and success. We have continued, as Ijaw people and the entire Niger Delta and South-South, to support the presidency of President Goodluck Jonathan, but a time has come when silence cannot be golden. We have to speak out on issues that are critical to the survival of our people, the survival of the people of the South-South and the South East, which is the political base of Goodluck Jonathan.
Jonathan is surrendered by very greedy people who are only in the presidency to enrich themselves at the expense of Goodluck himself. This brings us to another Kalabari proverb, which says: where there are elders, a goat cannot be allowed to deliver tied to a stick. If we don’t talk and we continue to brush it aside, tomorrow we will be blamed and people will say: Mujahid Asari-Dokubo was around when Goodluck Jonathan was president, and he didn’t talk; then I will be an accomplice and accessory after the fact.
I have benefited immensely from Goodluck Jonathan with my stake, but benefit alone is not enough to make me to keep quiet when the period is very challenging for our people.
What is your reaction to the face-off between the President and Obasanjo?
First, there was no need for Goodluck Jonathan whatsoever to disagree with Olusegun Obasanjo. I don’t like Obasanjo. I don’t like his face. I hate him, but he was instrumental in bringing Goodluck Jonathan to power. And the greedy people around Jonathan have not managed him enough, to the extent that the president and people around him will disagree with Obasanjo openly. And if you check, all the people who supported Goodluck Jonathan and fought to bring him to power have openly disagreed with him. What was the cause of these disagreements? This is a question for the president.
It is alarming because the South-South must have its uninterrupted eight-year tenure, which is constitutional, but with how things are going under Jonathan’s watch, we are afraid that we may not be able to have our eight-year tenure, because there will be no magic about it; if it is going to be one man one vote.
Some people say Obasanjo is manipulating Goodluck Jonathan; that is why Jonathan is disagreeing with him, and we ask: what has Goodluck Jonathan’s government achieved to show that it is a departure from other governments that have existed since 1956? For us, nothing has changed. It is still business as usual. So, what is the advice that Obasanjo gave to Jonathan that is so difficult for him to carry out, that made him decide to fall out with Obasanjo? Obasanjo manipulated the process that illegally removed Diepreye Alamieyeseigha as governor of Bayelsa State and installed Jonathan as governor, made him vice president, fought for him to become acting president and also fought for him to become president of Nigeria. Apart from Obasanjo, there are so many people who supported Goodluck Jonathan; some have been pushed out by those who were not there to give him any support, while some others are trapped and they cannot talk.
What would you identify as the main problem making the President not to perform?
The problem is that the president is surrendered by greedy people who do not want him to make any progress. I have known the president for more than 20 years, and I know he is a very simple, humane man, but he has allowed himself to be imprisoned by people around him, and this is what we are saying that this must stop.
After the election of the president, before his swearing in, I granted an interview, where I said that if Jonathan failed to perform in six months, he would lose all the goodwill, and today as we can see, the president is losing all the goodwill. The social media was one of the avenues the president used to come to power, but today, anywhere you go in the social media, he is being called all sorts of names, all sorts of derogatory names. We cannot continue to be taking punches for the president when he has refused to wear his gloves.
As at today, the president is removed from his own people; his people do not have access to him; so people like us who have access to him become target. When Joseph was sold into captivity in Egypt, from slavery to prison and from prison he became a prime minister, the first thing he did was to invite his family, from Israel to Egypt, to come and partake in his new found status. There is something wrong somewhere; the people around the president have fenced him out so that he cannot even see his direct family, and this is why I called this press conference. I have complained to Ijaw elders that I cannot keep quiet over things that I have seen, and they say I should wait. I am asking here, how long will we keep quiet? Our people now feel that we are at the riverside and yet use spittle to wash our face. That Jonathan’s last line of defence is sidelined in his government speaks volume of the presidency of Goodluck Jonathan, and our people have started to complain, and very soon the bubble will boost and the people will openly revolt. People are dying on the East-West road and Jonathan and Orubebe are doing nothing. Jonathan and Orubebe will account for the death in the East-West road.
I continue to be an advocate of eight- year presidency for the South South and eight years in the South East because the old Eastern Region is the most deprived region in this country, if you consider the number of people that have become president this country. It is not about Goodluck; it is about where we come from; my continuous support for Goodluck is because he is the standard bearer of the collective movement for change. However, some of us are tempted to ask this question: why are all these things happening? Why has the president allowed some ministers, like Godsday Orubebe to continue in government? Every day people die on the East-West road. If Orubebe is incompetent, he should be removed. Nobody voted for Orubebe. And why is Orubebe so important to the president that he can’t remove him?
Were you close to Orubebe before he became minister?
Orubebe was one of us. He was attending meetings with us, sleeping in the ground with us, entering night bus with us, and we nominated him to be appointed a minister; we have gone to him and complained that we didn’t like the way things were going in his ministry, and told him that if the president left in 2015 without the completion of the East-West road, we are finished. And the man keeps telling us there is no money. When Ibrahim Babangida was there, there was money. When Abacha was there, there was money. When other people were there, there was money. How come the money disappeared when Jonathan got there?
We call on the president to act. If it is spiritual, if they have bound him with spiritual chains and covered his face with spiritual blanket, we pray that the blanket be removed and the chains broken. If the East-West road is not completed, the president will find it difficult to come back.
What is your take on the proposed construction of a new banquet hall in the Villa?
Why making frivolous provision for building of a new banquet hall? How will the building of a new banquet hall affect the lives of the people outside the village? What is the necessity for a new banquet hall? This is misplaced priority, and it should be expunged from the budget.
What is your reaction to the ongoing constitutional amendment?
I believe that the National Assembly, as presently constituted, cannot amend the constitution, because the National Assembly is not standing on any moral high ground to amend the constitution. There are fundamental issues. The constitution can only originate from the people and this can only be done when a sovereign national conference is convened. Nigerian constitution is a fraud and that is why fraud cannot end in Nigeria. Even the grand-norm establishing the Nigerian state is a fraud.
The issue of onshore offshore dichotomy is still very much debated in the polity. What is your view on this matter?
The irritating call for the removal of onshore offshore dichotomy is laughable and that is why some of us don’t want to talk. Somebody from Niger Republic will come to my place in the Niger Delta and claim that they should have access to the sea at the coast. If the 1914 mistake did not take place, this wouldn’t be happening. People should stop irritating us because we are tired of being irritated. They should not heat up the polity. And it is criminal and illegal that since 1999, when this constitution came into effect, the revenue allocation has not been reviewed, unlike before when it was being reviewed every five years. We also demand that the 13 per cent derivation should no longer go to the state governments. The money should go directly to the oil-bearing communities.
How do you think about the presidency’s reaction to the protest by Kalabari chiefs over the boundary dispute between Bayelsa and Rivers States?
On that issue, I don’t like the role played by the president. If Kalabari chiefs came to demonstrate, he shouldn’t have added salt to injury, by allowing that small boy they call Reuben Abati to refer to the action of Kalabari revered chiefs as primary school style demonstration. Will he say that about his kangaroo rulers? Why would he refer to Kalabari chiefs in that manner? Does he know the history of Kalabari people? Kalabari people have been trading with European since when his fathers were naked running after cockroaches and frogs. The president should remove this man for the insult because as a Kalabari, we don’t take such insult and we will react at the appropriate time to this insult and I know that when that happens, it will affect the president. Abati should be made to apologise to Kalabari chiefs for calling our chiefs primary school children.