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I Can’t Assess Jonathan Based On Performance Because... —Dokubo-Asari
FORMER President of the Ijaw Youth Council (IYC) and leader of the Niger Delta Peoples Volunteer Force (NDPVF), Alhaji Mujahid Dokubo-Asari, speaks with some journalists, including UCHECHUKWU OLISAH, on some issues affecting the polity. Excerpts:
What informed your warning against the rigging of the forthcoming governorship poll in Edo State, which triggered a reaction from the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP)?
They say clear conscience fears no accusation. The warning was not directed at any particular political party. It was meant for anybody who plans to manipulate the election. But if the PDP believes that the warning was directed at them, so be it. The Edo people cannot afford to have their mandate stolen again. They went through pain. People even died reclaiming the mandate. I think the PDP should be calling for free and fair election. If there is no PDP Federal Government, I don’t think the party would be playing god in Edo State or elsewhere. The truth is that without a PDP Federal Government, the party cannot contest election in the state and hope to win up to five per cent votes, given their antecedent. Benin City is my second home after Warri. The party had nothing to show for the eight years it was in power here. Today, the people can see for themselves, the difference between Adams Oshiomhole and the rest of them. After Dr (Samuel) Ogbemudia and Alli, everybody went to sleep, but Oshiomhole has rejuvenated the state. He has woken the people up. If this were a society where an opinion poll matters, by now, we would have known the winner and the loser. Oshiomhole would not even have to campaign. What I have said in this particular situation is, nobody should think of rigging this election. The people will not allow it to be rigged. Their votes must count.
The public space has been awash with accusations and counter-accusations regarding alleged plan to employ ‘federal might’ for the election. What is your take on this?
I am a supporter of President Goodluck Jonathan and the Goodluck I know would not do such a thing. The president would not rig the election for PDP because the entire South-South people voted for him. PDP did not bring Jonathan to power, the generality of the people did.
We in the South-South, did not protest after the fuel subsidy removal because we were aware that some people said if they didn’t produce the president, they would make the country ungovernable for Jonathan, and they have been doing that. We did that because Jonathan is our own. If Jonathan, with all these, now decides to support those who want to steal the mandate the people want to give Oshiomhole, then I think people like us would start to question our support for the president.
We support Jonathan because, for the first time since June 12, we are confronting tyranny, arrogance; that ‘we are born to rule’. Jonathan may not be the best in the South-South, but he represents the symbol of our freedom. After this sacrifice by the people, if Jonathan would now connive with people who, for 10 years, held the people of Edo State hostage; held the people in darkness, poverty and penury, then some of us would say no, you are no longer representing the interest of the South-South, the oppressed people. When people talk about money, I laugh because Jonathan would give me more money than Edo State or Oshiomhole. But the battle we fight, people don’t understand. Some people somewhere said we are minority and we asked, when was a census held to determine who are minority and who are majority; that you have the right to perpetually subjugate us, take our resources, destroy our environment, murder our leaders and nothing would happen. Jonathan did not fight to become president; it was the collective struggle of the of the people of the South-South, the people of the Middle Belt, the South-East, who have been considered second class citizens in a country that belongs to all of us. It would be wrong for Jonathan to pay back the people of Edo State by backing any plot to rig Oshiomhole out of power when the entire people of the state appreciate his performance. If that happens, people like us would say: you no longer represent our interest so, go and use your federal might to confront those who think that they are born to rule; they have the exclusive preserve for power; if you can go and confront them without our support, we would say, okay, go. I don’t believe that there is any might that can stand against the might of the people. And I don’t think Jonathan will buy that because he is too intelligent for that. What political value are these so-called godfathers in Edo State, other than the fact that they would manipulate the process and rig election. Will Jonathan be interested in seeing the blood of the people who voted for him to flow?
How do you view the decision of President Jonathan to rename the University of Lagos (UNILAG) after the acclaimed winner of June 12, 1993 presidential election, Chief Moshood Abiola?
I think the renaming of UNILAG is a step in the right direction, but one begins to question the sincerity of those who have been crying all these years over Abiola. We have now seen that some people, especially Abiola’s own people, were only riding on the back of his name to get to power. The decision of President Jonathan has exposed their hypocrisy. But I think the decision is not enough. For those of us who believe in what Abiola did, the president should install Abiola to the status of a former president and pay his family all his entitlements for four years. Then, June 12 should be declared a national public holiday. And this can be done through an act of parliament. This will go a long way in mitigating the injustice that was meted out to Abiola and Nigerians. Again, those who were responsible for the annulment of June 12 election should be brought to book.
What do you make of the talks regarding the 2015 presidential election as it affects a second term for President Jonathan and power shift to the North, even as the president is just one year into his tenure?
Ordinarily, it would be too early for any one of us to be talking of 2015. But I was the first person to publicly say that Jonathan had no right to say he was not running in 2015 because we in the South-South are entitled to two terms, and Jonathan is in the best position as the sitting president to actualise those two terms. That is the tradition everywhere. But I want to say that it is premature to start talking about 2015 now. Jonathan has been in government for just one year and he has to show the people the reasons they should re-elect him. These reasons will be based on his achievements in fighting corruption and enhancing democratic values. Jonathan is from the South-South and as his people, we have been forced to take a stand.
So, you now find out that judging Jonathan’s administration based on performance is no longer there. People are now saying since you have decided, we have decided too. The situation has come to, monkey no fine but the mama like am. You cannot ask me now to assess Jonathan’s government based on performance; we have passed that stage because the Northerners are not ready to be fair. We believe that our collective interest is greater than our individual interests, and Jonathan today represents our collective interest.
Jonathan has been there for one year and you expect him to clear all the rot of over 50 years. He is not a Professor Peller or a T.B. Joshua; he is not a miracle worker. But this does not mean that we are encouraged by what is happening now. They say Boko Haram. How does Boko Haram affect me? So far they are doing Boko Haram where they are and not my place, it is not my business. The North has created an atmosphere of a failed society where everybody is now in the trenches to defend his territory. Until the North stops its arrogance, we cannot be united. As far as I am concerned, if there is a realistic census, the South would be five times more populated than the North, because there is nowhere in the world where the desert could be more populated than the tropical savannah. As far as I am concerned, there are more Ijaw than Fulani in this country. I have travelled and seen Ijaw people everywhere. The Ijaw people migrate just as the Fulani people do; so, why would they call us minorities? For me, in 2015, Goodluck Jonathan does not have the right to say he is not running for presidency. It is our right to have two terms and they have to respect that right. They have to wait for us to run our two terms. But if they say that they want to run, we are ready for them. We are not going to compromise our right because some people think they can kill. Are they the only people who can kill? If they feel they can kill, we can kill too. We are not afraid. It is in their own interest not to disrupt the polity.Share