By Kayode Ojo
What motives are propelling the Leader of the Niger Delta People’s Volunteer Force (NDPVF), Alhaji Mujahedeen Asari- Dokubo, in his new-found enterprise of bashing President Goodluck Jonathan and those supporting him? The motifs of his attacks have become predictably the same: put the president and his dependable associates on the spot and get them distracted from statecraft in a bid to stave off his tantrums.
Dokubo had in recent times taken on the Minister of Niger Delta Affairs, Elder Godsday Orubebe, claiming that the minister had failed and should have been dropped from the cabinet by Jonathan. He had also dismissed Chief Edwin Clark’s charge of complicity against Generals Ibrahim Babangida and Muhammadu Buhari in the Boko Haram crisis as unfounded. He was simply saying that Clark was becoming too flippant. But if Clark was and is still flippant, what of the taciturn former Minister of Works and Housing, Chief Tony Anenih, whom he recently described as “a liability to the Presidency” on the basis of Asari-Dokubo’s claimed “series of allegations against him.”
Interestingly, as if they all realized that the ex-militant leader has been exhibiting acts of frustration, they had simply ignored him. However, Asari-Dokubo should not be allowed to seize the bully pulpit to intimidate and blackmail the Federal Government under the able- leadership of President Jonathan and well-meaning Nigerians who have been privileged to offer services to the nation. In fact, the Okrika National Youth Movement reportedly issued a press statement in Abuja last week wherein it claimed that Asari-Dokubo was angry having failed to get a renewal of the contract for pipeline security granted to him and some former militants.
According to the group, in the statement signed by its president, Anthony Aimieyefori, and secretary, Ibiyoma Lloyd, “Asari-Dokubo owns a pipeline security outfit to stem the rising wave of piracy on the Niger Delta waters but failed to work for the objectives for which the contract was given after millions of dollars have been paid to him. In spite of the shameful failure above, he and those in his category have mounted series of pressure on the presidency, the Minister of Niger Delta Affairs, as well as the Petroleum Minister for the renewal of the contracts. “This is most unfortunate and goes to show that unlike Government Ekpomupolo (Tompolo) whose Oil Facility Surveillance Company is working in the Delta axis to rid the state of oil thieves, Asari’s supposed struggle is about self and self alone.” The proposition of the Okrika National Youth Movement is quite illuminating.
Consider my proposition: If Asari-Dokubo, who, as a matter of arrogance, refused to accept the grant of amnesty by the Federal Government, has since realized his mistake, which he has not been able to mitigate, he should be courageous to eat the humble pie. He had said that the amnesty programme would fail, but today, the programme is a huge success to his chagrin. And when he discovered late that a vast majority of other militants and their leaders had jumped on the amnesty train, he had resorted to self-help, through which he got the poorly executed anti-piracy contract, by taking it upon himself to drum support for the Jonathan administration, in the hope and expectation that the administration would sustain the patronages to him. But because the patronages have been withdrawn, he has turned himself into loose cannon against the Federal Government.
This is how Asari-Dokubo turned the full circle: in an interview with Vanguard’s John Bulus published on March 3, 2012, Asari-Dokubo had declared that “Jonathan will occupy Aso Rock for 8 years.” Also in another interview with Vanguard’s Simon Ebegbulem on June 23, 2012, he had also declared that “It’s in the interest of North not to field a candidate against Jonathan in 2015.” Deductively, this was when the anti-piracy contract on the Niger Delta waters was on. But after the life of the contract terminated and was not renewed by the Federal Government because of “shoddy” execution, Asari-Dokbo, all of a sudden in August 2012, began to make a gradual volte-face. In an interview with journalists at the meeting with youths of the Niger Delta in Abuja, he had canvassed the dissolution of the President Jonathan’s government to pave the way for the convocation of a Sovereign National Conference (SNC), claiming that the conference was the only solution to the menace of the violent Islamist sect, Boko Haram. He had said: “Whether he likes it or not, Goodluck Jonathan must convoke an SNC.
There is a need for a national discourse and dialogue. It is only an SNC that will solve the problem. The solution to the Boko Haram crisis is to dissolve the government and convoke an SNC.” For those who understand the persona of Asari-Dokubo, the impatient ex-militant (?) leader has lent himself to usage by anti-Federal Government forces. The rationale is simple: if Jonathan was not ready to hugely patronize him, he should be able to seize the platform of the opposition elements to canvass their positions, which gullible Nigerians would take as Asari-Dokubo’s positions. But how misleading! He has unintelligently given himself away by some of the anti-government positions he has taken in recent times.
The first was peripheral. It was the briefs he received from the Governor of Edo State, Comrade Adams Oshiomhole to threaten violence in the July 14, 2012 governorship election. He had moved in militants who succeeded in undermining the integrity of the electoral process in Edo such that the Action Congress of Nigeria was able to massively rig the election. Asari-Dokubo had taken refuge in the State Government House in the period before and after the election. He was the mercenary that Oshiomhole used to bully the godfathers in the other camp in Edo.
Having been successfully, even if shamelessly used in Edo, Asari-Dokubo is now expanding the frontiers of his despicable utility. He now talks glibly in the media about the re-election of President Jonathan in 2015 being in doubts (see page 5 report of National Mirror of Friday, December 28, 2012 entitled: “Jonathan’s re-election doubtful-Asari-Dokubo). He even proposed the ridiculous position when he partly hinged Jonathan’s re-election on former President Olusegun Obasanjo. Asari-Dokubo should remember that when Obasanjo was in the saddle, he used the instrumentality of the presidency to clinch his second term. Not even General Babangida and others who assisted him to office in 1999 could stop him. Perhaps the only reasonable suggestion Asari-Dokubo made in the report was his call on Jonathan to urgently deliver on his electioneering promises.
Jonathan does not need an irritant Asari-Dokubo, who is on an errand for forces of destabilization, to sharply focus on the pursuit of his transformation agenda. The president has been systematically executing his development plans for Nigeria. He has even promised a better outlook for the economy and the polity in 2013. So far, he has been able to emplace the administrative infrastructure that will drive the reforms in the power and transportation sectors. Reforms are also crystallizing in the other sectors of the economy, which Asari-Dokubo’s long years of militancy in the Niger Delta region destroyed.
Asari-Dokubo should be shame-faced and seek ways to meaningfully contribute to the rapid development of the nation instead of trying to turn the Nigeria project into a bazaar where he can use the platform of politics to blackmail and intimidate the Federal Government into according him huge patronages. Nigerians are not taken in by his anti-Jonathan tantrums; if anything at all, there is a thick pall of disgust for him and his antics. Ojo writes from Ketu, Lagos.