Posted by By EMERSON GOBERT, JR on
He was apparently vexed in spirit. As he talked, his pitch fluctuated depicting the bile in his spirit.
He was apparently vexed in spirit. As he talked, his pitch fluctuated depicting the bile in his spirit. Sometimes, it crested to high notes. He was very passionate about the issues raised. His tone betrayed such emotion. Though he was not wielding his AK 47 assault riffle which is one of his trademarks, it could be seen all the same imaginarily. Convinced about his struggle, he fired his salvos from all cylinders, occasionally sounding thunderous.
As he literally sprayed his bullets everywhere, he was ready to go on and on but the interviewer would not let him empty his bowel. Some of his statements were simply slanderous but Asari-Dokubo, leader of the Niger Delta Peoples Volunteer Force (NDPVF), wouldn't care a hoot. He poured invectives on everybody who dared to oppose him and damned them to go to hell. “It is my land; get out of my land,” he effervesced in spontaneous fury.
He was expectedly explosive and at the end of the day, he affirmed that the struggle must continue until there is total liberation for his people.
From the presidential villa in Abuja to the Rivers State Truth and Reconciliation Commission in Port Harcourt, it is hard tackle all the way. Some northerners, who recently made vexatious comments on the Niger Delta situation and its oil,b also got a good dose of Asari's vitriol. He called them primitive, lazy parasites.
Now that Professor Gambari has opted out of the chairmanship of the steering committee of the proposed Niger Delta Summit, which is the way forward on the Niger Delta situation?
For me, the issue was not Gambari. If you have read my interviews, you will find out that I never talked about Gambari. Gambari was not an issue in opposition to the conference. The issues we are talking about are very fundamental. They are issues that concern our political sovereignty and self determination and we have stated clearly that it is only a sovereign national conference that can adequately address the issues.
Even as Gambari has opted out, who would you prefer to chair the summit?
I don't believe in the summit, so I cannot suggest anybody. We have stated that our minimum demand as I stated earlier is a sovereign national conference. Anything that does not have sovereign power, I think it is useless and a waste.
You were quoted as saying that deployment of troops by the Federal Government to the region will not change the situation in the Niger Delta. What exactly do you mean by this statement?
It will not solve anything. The era when they intimidate people with troops is over. In this world, nobody has exclusive preserve of terror. If they think that they will terrorize us and fight us, that time is over. It is gone and it is gone forever, so as long as they come into our land to attack us, we have every right; inalienable right to defend ourselves.
You have accused the Federal Government of insincerity in the handling of the Niger Delta situation. How did you arrive at that conclusion?
Insincerity has always been there. It is not new. Any reasonable, discerning mind will know that the government is not sincere even in the relationship between the president and his vice president, Goodluck Jonathan. If the president is sincere, we will see it from his relationship with Goodluck Jonathan who is vice president; who unfortunately, is from the Niger Delta. The constitution of the Nigerian state assigns certain functions to him which Yar'Adua has refused to give to him. The ministers from the Niger Delta, their relationship with Yar'Adua in the executive arm, that is where it will start. Let us see it from them. It is when we see it from them that there is sincerity. This is the most powerless vice president in the history of the Nigerian state. He has no power. He is stripped of all powers. He is treated as if he is not part of the government and we see it even if the man does not see it. He pretends to cover it up. Everybody sees it. It is an open secret. Everybody knows that Yar'Adua has not been fair to Goodluck Jonathan and the ministers from the South-South and the South-Eastern states.
How do you react to some statements from some northerners that the Niger Delta is responsible for its problems and that oil belongs to all?
Why don't they go and say that oil in Chad or Cameroun or in Saudi Arabia or Lybia belongs to them? They are talking because our elders allow them to talk. It is their arrogance. First, they are parasites. They contribute nothing; absolutely nothing intellectually or resource wise to this entity they call Nigeria. They are only parasites. We all saw what happened to them in the last four years of Obasanjo when they lost virtually everything; how they were hunger-stricken and became beggarly, so their boast does not affect anyone of us.
They are men and we are men. If they send their men, we will defend ourselves. We will not only defend ourselves, we will carry the battle to them wherever they are. They cannot come to our land, destroy our land and kill our people and cause mayhem. We will take the battle to wherever they are. You take somebody else's resources and you have the temerity, instead of you to be begging, to pour invectives. Did they conquer us? What power do they have? The Biafran war they are talking, we fought it. Did they fight it? Did Murtala Mohammed not run away? Which of them fought the war? We fought the war to keep this dubious entity one. It was our blood and sweat and resources. They didn't fight the war. Who never knew about how Murtala Mohammed cowardly ran away at Asaba?
Would you say the attack on Bonga oil fields and other flow stations were justified?
I don't think that anybody will attack his own property. We are only re-possessing our property on our land. We have not gone to attack anybody. We have not attacked Kano. We have not attacked Ibadan. We didn't attack Enugu. We didn't attack Lagos, so how would we have attacked our own territory?
Professor Wole Soyinka has said that the region should engage in intellectual militancy instead of violence. How do you react to that statement?
So, what was Ken Saro-Wiwa engaged in when he was judicially murdered? Was he engaged in any other form of militancy or what is militancy? I'm not a militant. I don't know what Professor Soyinka meant when he said intellectual militancy. I don't believe in that. What I say is, this is my land. Get out of my land. It is as simple as that. You are in my land, I'm not in your land. Get out! If you don't get out, I will use everything-all that God has given me to send you out of my land. That's just it!
Some people believe that militancy in the region is politicized and that there are powerful individuals behind the militants. Do you agree with that?
I don't know who are the powerful individuals. The person I know is the people in government aided by Obasanjo which I know very well. Obasanjo was very instrumental with his security, with the SSS and military intelligence that worked with people like Henry Okah to discredit the struggle that I know. If there are other individuals who fund the movement; if they are Ijaw people, they have the right to fund the movement for their own liberation and the betterment of their people. So, I don't know about militancy. The patriotic struggle of our people is supported by the whole Niger Delta people even if they pretend; even those who are wining and dining with the opposition force.
Some youths in the region also accused the region's leaders of being sell-outs, is this true?
We know that for sometime now, our people - the governors and so on - are they elected by our people? Take for example the governor of Rivers State, who elected him? Seven Supreme Court judges elected him; a man who never contested election. Have you ever heard of such a thing anywhere in the world that seven Supreme Court judges imposed somebody who never contested election to become the governor of a state? Or is it in Delta State, Adamawa and Kogi where somebody was exempted from contesting election -was prevented by INEC but the issue of Delta State, uptil today, the case has not been decided? Or is it in Bayelsa State where the president is meddling in the affairs of Bayelsa State and did not allow the people of Bayelsa to decide who will be their governor? Or in Edo State where the Appeal Court has delayed pronouncement on the judgment between Oshiomhole and Professor Osunbor? It is all apparent that they put them there as the task masters of Pharaoh. Pharoah is in Abuja then he sent his task masters to force us to work without straw.
In a nutshell, what is the real problem of the Niger Delta and what does the region want?
(Cuts in) The problem of the Niger Delta is political. Our sovereignty was stolen from us by the British and that's what we are talking about. Until that issue is addressed at a sovereign national conference, all these half measures will come to nought. They will fail and the people doing it are not sincere at all. I met with them. I was in the committee set up by Ijaw people to go and meet with the government of the Nigerian state. I withdrew for about four months. I was persuaded by Ijaw people to return and I did. What are these meetings? “Look, my friend, go back to your people. Let them know that there are masters.
They are the slaves. If you accept that, we will leave you in peace. We will not come to turn your land into Odi, Odoma, Unekem, et cetera. We will not kill you as we killed Isaac Boro and Saro-Wiwa and others. Just go and tell them to accept that there are slaves. Period and we are their masters and overlords.” These are the meetings they held and nothing else. I was part of the meeting and I know the mindset of the people. I know the mindset of the present government. “Go and accept to be slaves” and we are not ready to be slaves. We either die than accept to be slaves.
If you are asked, what does the Niger Delta region want, how would you answer it in a nutshell?
I have told you. I said convocate a sovereign national conference. The decision of this sovereign national conference will be subjected to a referendum like it was done in Ethiopia when Eritrea left or as it has been attempted three times by Cubec in Canada. Convocate a sovereign national conference.
You talked about a Pharoah in Abuja. What kind of leader would you say Yar'Adua is?
As far as I'm concerned, Yar'Adua will be worse than Obasanjo.
What gives you that impression?
It is very obvious seven-point agenda. Niger Delta is one of the seven points according to him. He made a budget. Four hundred and something million for security in the Niger Delta, sixty something million for NDDC. NDDC’s money that is two hundred and something billion has expired but the Lagos State money that Obasanjo held did not expire. He paid Lagos. So, I know the mindset of the man. The man is not even pretending about it. It is very clear. He cannot give NDDC’s money to them. They are constructing one road in Abuja for N50 billion but nine NDDC states will share a budget of N70 billion. One single road in Abuja for N50 billion. It is only people who are friends and brothers of Satan that can do that.
You have not been as vocal as you used to be and some people feel you have been compromised. What's responsible for your new stance?
(cuts in) What is being vocal? So, what I am saying, what do you expect me to say? You want me to say what? That they should kill somebody or they should do what? What is being vocal? I've stated my position clearly everywhere at every forum, everywhere that I address people from the grassroots to the town hall meetings and everywhere and people say I am not as vocal as I used to be. So, how would I be vocal?
Have you ever entered into any deal with the Federal Government past or present to back down?
I've never as a person entered into any deal with anybody to jettison the struggle of my people. That was why I was sent to prison because I made it clear to Obasanjo that this is the position of our people, that except for a sovereign national conference, there will be no solution. He thought it was a joke. He put me in prison and he saw it that it was not possible except they convocate a sovereign national conference; except there is sincerity on the part of the people like what happened in South Africa. Except there is that level of sincerity, all these things will come to nought and if Zionist Israel could not suppress Hammas and Islamic Jihad, it could not suppress Hezbollah. If America with all her power could not suppress the resistance in Iraq and Afghanistan, how do they think that these primitive, lazy, parasitic people will be able to suppress and subdue the resistance in the Niger Delta. It is not possible.
How would you assess the Truth and Reconciliation Commission set up by the Rivers State government?
It is part of the diversionary tactics. Amaechi received N89 billion last month from what they call federation account.
So, he wants to divert the attention of people. Let Amaechi show anything he has done with all the money he has collected since he came. He wants to divert people's attention and malign those who were there before him, a government in which he was No. 3 man. He wants to extricate himself from that government. There was no differing opinion. Everybody was saying Odilli, Sekibo, Odilli, Sekibo until I came and brought an alternative view and from then, have you been seeing them airing it live again? They cut the programme. They brought people to come and malign people. That is what they do. They pay people to come and malign. It's one of the grand designs. He was not elected by Rivers people. He was imposed. It was a coup against the people of Rivers State. He was imposed on us. So, all that he was doing, he only provided me a platform to state my case under legal cover. I took oath, I stated the demand of our people. I thank him for that. Apart from that, this thing (the commission) was set up to witch hunt people.
So, what do you make of the revelations from the commission?
There is no revelation. What revelations are there? Did you hear any revelation? People come and lie. You see people lying; saying all sorts of lies. When they are asked questions, they circumvent them and they leave. Go and get my tape and listen to it and even where it will affect me, I stated the facts as they were. I was not taking sides with anybody. They don't want that. Everybody ought to support Amaechi. The billions are there.
You had an altercation with Marshall Harry's son at the commission and the situation nearly went out of hand. Why?
Yes! That young man is paid. He is a junkie. You can make your investigation. He is paid to come and malign people and we all know. He made several attempts to kill his father. His father is a member of my house. After his father's death, he fraternized with Odilli and even said that if his father was alive, his father would have supported Odilli to become president. So, when did he suddenly realize that Odilli was the killer of his father? I was the first person to openly come out to accuse Odilli and Obasanjo of having a hand in the killing of Marshall Harry.
That was in May 2004 in my second letter to Rivers people. The letter is there. Even your paper published extracts from it; Kaima confession. Where was he then? If I was not afraid to accuse the powers that be when they were in power, is it now that they have left office that I will be afraid of them? He agreed that he held a meeting with Odilli where he demanded that Odilli should pardon him for his criminal activities when he stole and was duly convicted and he went to prison. Amaechi has an agenda. He wants to remove Tonye Harry. Sekibo took him to court, so he is fighting Sekibo. So, why is he accusing only those who are anti-Amaechi as the killers of his father?
You have made some strong statements at the commission, even now, can you justify them?
I was in Kuje Prison with the people who were arrested and accused of killing Marshall Harry. The young man has never met then. They said they never killed; police only gathered them and gave them a cheque and told them to go and pay it after that they will leave. These people are not dead. They are still in Kuje prison. I met the investigation officer. He was the one who was in charge of my case, DSP Bello. Even though he said they were the killers, I met with him. The so-called Marshall Harry's son has never met him. So, I'm better positioned to say what happened to Marshall Harry than that fellow who is looking for money. Everybody knows him that he is looking for money.
So, on a final note, concerning the Niger Delta crisis, for you, would it be right to say that the struggle continues?
The struggle will continue until the political issues are adequately and totally addressed. Until that issue is resolved, whatever half measure taken or proffered will fail.
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