Alhaji Mujahid Dokubo-Asari is the former President of the Ijaw Youth Council (IYC) and leader of the Niger Delta Peoples Volunteer Force (NDPVF). He is better known for his struggles for the libration of the Niger Delta region. To some people, he is freedom fighter while to others, he is a controversial personality. In this encounter with JOHN BULUS, he said amongst other things that President Goodluck Jonathan has 8 years to occupy Aso Rock Villa as President of Nigeria
The recent national strike that erupted on the heels of the removal of oil subsidy saw you as part of those who pinched tent with the federal Government and President Goodluck Jonathan. You also threatened to occupy the oil platforms in the Niger Delta should the oil companies join the strike and further warned that the Ijaw people will not take it lightly should any “harm” come to Mr. President. What was that all about?
The first correction I want to make is on the issue of national protest. What is the definition of national? There was no such protest. There were protests by hirelings of those who are the real owners of Nigeria which we have revealed, who are making money from the sweat and blood of the people of Niger Delta and the Igbos.
And if you watched, the whole of South- South, apart from some flash points in Benin in Edo, the whole of South East and majority of North Central were quiet. So it was a conspiracy amongst the Lagos people and the people of the North to have a regime change because they are losing power.
They are losing economic and political power and they are afraid that if President Jonathan is allowed to continue for 8 years, the consequences will be devastating and as such, they should blackmail and arm-twist the government of Jonathan to give way to a government that they feel is in their best interest. I think that that is not possible.
We will not sit idly by, fold our arms and watch them do that. That we will not accept. It is unacceptable to us because, this is not the first time the so called fuel subsidy has been removed. We forced the strike to end. If they try it another time, we will also force them to end it, because, you cannot be talking on another person’s property, sitting and deliberating on another person’s property. You don’t have such right to that.
The President is the President of Nigeria and the oil belongs …
(Cuts in) We are not talking about the president belonging to everybody. There is nothing like all of us. If we are talking about everything belonging to everybody, then, there is nobody to take care. That was how some people thought and General Aguiyi Ironsi, the only Nigerian Head of State from the old Eastern Region was murdered.
The President came from a place. He came from a constituency. And that is the requirement of the so called Nigerian Constitution that a President must come from a particular place and that’s where the president came from.
And as far as I am concerned, the President of the Federal Republic of Nigeria is an Ijaw man and if others who said they will make governance impossible, they will destabilize the government if he wins the primaries, if he wins the election. So if such people continue, then, it is also within the purview of our right to make sure that we defeat all their evil machinations.
And you threatened to occupy the oil platforms?
The oil platforms belong to us. It is our own. Those who are there are criminal collaborators with the Nigerian state and multi-nationals. They are criminal collaborators. The oil platforms belong to the people who own the land.
The present administration is almost a year old and it does appear that the administration is yet to find a direction. It is still very far from meeting the expectations of majority of Nigerians.
Which other government did before it? Since 1963, which other government did anything that this one which is less than one year should do?
The government made promises of transforming the country…
(Cuts in)Which one did not make promises? Is it the only government that has made promises? Didn’t the previous ones make promises? Look, no body is saying that the government has not disappointed us in one way or the other. No, no. no. Our expectations have not been met. The East West road is in shambles. The Coastal road, nothing is being heard about it. NNDC projects are not going on. The backlog o NDDC money is being held.
So these are issues we are talking about. So, if Obasanjo that was given pass mark stayed there for 8 years and heavens did not fall, what do you think of Jonathan who has only stayed for 8 months.There is no basis of assessing the government because it is just 8 months. When the time comes to assess the government, we will know.
But for now, there is no basis for assessing the government. I think that there are areas that the government has made some strides. The Government must close all the areas of leakages and focus more on the people because it is the mandate of the people that makes him president.
You talked about conspiracy against the government. Who are these conspirators?
The Lagos people. The Lagos crowd. All the people who picked the bills in Lagos: the musicians, the crowd, who bankrolled them? The people who came out from the North; did they come out because of oil subsidy? Boko Haram has been killing people, have they come out? Have they said anything? Is removal of oil subsidy more important than the lives of people?
Insecurity has persisted in the country. The efforts of the government do not seem satisfying even though some arrests of the Boko Haram kingpins have been made. We can still see that the bombs are going off. What is your take on this?
It is very difficult to fight an enemy you cannot see, but there were enemies that we saw who promised that these events will take place. They are known faces. They openly said if Jonathan ever wins the primary and proceeded to win the general election, they will make the country, Nigeria ungovernable. And true to type, these things are happening. And that was why I called for the arrest of some of them after the general elections, because, we must see beyond sentiments. This is a well laid hard plan to cow Jonathan and chase him out of power.
And because they now discover that our people are solidly behind Jonathan. One Captain David Omale wrote in a national Newspaper ( not Vanguard) that they will just march down to the Niger Delta and crush it. What I said is that it is easier said than done. Let them come. That as they crushed Biafra, they can just march down and crush us. Let them come. So that is the mentality of the people who feel that power must always reside with them.
And because they have lost power, there is nothing you can do because if President Jonathan were to move the army and start killing people, because now, the Governors of Niger and Jigawa States have said there is high-handedness and innocent people are being killed in the name of Boko Haram.
So if you are not arresting people, you are not doing anything, what are you going to do? Are you going to blame the man? The man should not do security; the man should not do this and that, all sorts of things. Yes, the right of the people should not be impaired. Now, what is the solution? How do we police the community? How do we police the neighbourhood without some people being caught?
Some arrests were made and no known names have been mentioned even when it is being speculated every where that the sect has sponsors.
You know Nigerians like easy things. Do you need any body to sponsor you to make cheap bombs to kill people? So if you arrest the sponsor, you have demobilized the people? They have gotten a life of their own if even people sponsor them. They raid banks. They do other things to gather resources to prosecute their war against the government. They only needed an incitement.
And the people that provided the incitement were the prominent Northerners who promised to make Nigeria ungovernableand that is enough for these people to have been apprehended by the government because the President can’t just sit down and be allowing this because one day, they will kill him and after that, maybe it will be what happened in Rwanda and Burundi, they were being pushed to the precipe where no body will fold his arms. That is the truth of the matter.
Don’t you think that these ugly events threaten the unity of the country?
Who cares about the unity? Which country is it that anybody cares about the unity? I will be the happiest person if this contraption collapses. I will be the happiest person. I have not hidden my feelings about this contraption. Let this contraption collapse because it does not serve the wellbeing of the people who were forced into it. If a marriage is not working, then you end the marriage.
What is your take on the recent ultimatum by Boko Haram to southern Christians to vacate the north?
You see, if a man tells you to leave his house, what it is your business remaining in his house? The moment you remain there, you become an intruder, you became a trespasser. The man said leave.
People believe that Nigeria is sacrosanct… and there are no-go-areas. Who said so? Who determines where to go and where you must not go? Who says these are the issues you must discuss and the ones you must not discuss? Since people are foolish enough to remain somewhere and they are being killed, then it is their business.
If the owner of a house tells me to leave, I will leave. I will respect myself, preserve my dignity and leave. Let our people return home.
Northern governors recently said the problems in the north stem from poverty, that they their revenue allocations should be increased as in the South. What is your take on that?
You know my view already that these people are parasites. Why asking me this question? Three years ago, I said they were parasites. It triggered northern economic summit led by the same Babangida Mua’za Aliyu because I called them parasites.
They have agreed that they are parasites. If you are a parasites, then come and do bambi Allah. Come and beg us. Why putting on the toga of pride? This arrogance is useless. Since it is not going to work, you can’t intimidate the people, you cannot blackmail us. We want 100% of our resources; even the little that is going to them is very painful to us.
The little that they said they are taking, it is terribly, terribly painful to us. We want them all, because it belongs to us. It doest not belong to them. Look, we have to be frank and say this thing the way it is in black and white. When you are playing Mr. Nice, these people will think you are pleasing them. There is no basis for pleasing such people.
Last week, you led a coalition of South South and middle belt youths for condolence to late Ojukwu’s home and there you talked about the possibility of an Igbo man or Middle belter becoming the next president if President Jonathan says he is not interested. What exactly do you mean?
We have started working, that’s why you saw thousands of people. We have started working on that and we will continue. The unity has started. The people who thought they were playing God, God has shown them, they were not God. We are working and we believe that the vast of Igbo people are with us. The vast majority of the people of Middle belters are with us. Nearly 100% percent of the people of the South South are with us.
Jonathan has an 8-year tenure. He has 8 years tenure. If he wants to go for 8 years, he has the right to do so. But if he says he does not want to go, it is politics. Politics is about numbers. It is about sagacity. So, what we are going to do is to work towards it, to work towards the realization of our goal to make sure that those who have held us down will never get to power again.
But the President did say he will only serve for one term. How come you are advocating 8 years for him?
We can’t take that. He cannot use the South South opportunity to come and say he will not. Other people used 8 years.
The National Sovereign Conference (SNC) has been on the front burner in the national discourse. And you are one of the advocates. Why sticking to the call?
SNC is only the peaceful minimum demand. Other demands will lead to bloodshed. So, in order to avert blood shed, let us sit down and talk. If the people do no want to talk, then it will lead to something more sinister than we are expecting. So, we are begging that please and please, let us peacefully sit down and talk. And that can only be done in a sovereign national conference.
The National Assembly says that ethnic grievances should be directed through the representatives in the Assembly.
When the time for it comes…who elected those senators and Reps?
Some persons see you as a controversial personality? How would you react to that?
I don’t know what controversy means, that somebody talks about issues that affect his people and all of a sudden, he is branded controversial. No problem.
If I am, no objections to it, but I believe that the truth must be told and the truth is very clear that the north has had more than every other person and the North should wait for the Igbos, the Ijaws, the Itsekiris, the Tivs, the Ibibios and Idomas.
They should wait for us. If we are going to practice an equitable system, then the north has had more than their fair share and they should wait.
You seem to be so hard on the North. Do you have any grudges against them?
I don’t have. It is only the truth…the truth that some people took our land and continue to hold people ransom.
Some people are of the view that you have abandoned a collective struggle because an Ijaw man who is your kinsman is the President, that before now, you were having an affinity with some progressives from the north and west. How true is that?
If you call yourself my comrade, you should also know that I have blood that flows in my vein. You should also know that I have preferences. You should also know that you cannot kill my people and love me. That means that if I allow you to kill my people, when you finish with them, you will also come for me. That is the truth.
How would you describe Ojukwu?
I believe that what Isaac Boro and Ojukwu started which we did not see has come unto all of us. I believe that Ojukwu did not die a fulfilled man. My dream today is to see that the ideals that Isaac Boro and Ojukwu preached, even though they did not understand themselves at that time, that that sort of disunity that existed between the people of south south and south east no long exist.
We should close our ranks and fight and bring the dreams of these men to fulfillment. We should reach our goal. I think it is very close, very, very possible that we will surely win.