Dr Chris Ekiyor is the former National President of the Ijaw Youth Council (IYC) and currently the Caretaker Chairman of Patani Local Government Council of Delta State. In this interview, the Niger Delta activist faults the calls for amnesty for members of the Boko Haram sect and warns that the people of the Niger Delta will resist any move to use the resources from the area to fund the amnesty.
the 2015 presidency, he says the people of the Niger Delta are
unanimous in their decision that President Goodluck Jonathan should run
for second term asserting that any attempt to stop him by the North will
lead to the end of Nigeria. Excerpts:
Federal Government has announced a committee to look into the
possibilities of granting amnesty to members of the Boko Haram sect. As
one of those who perfected amnesty for ex-militants in the Niger Delta,
what is your view?
is another bandwagon effect that is tearing apart our country again.
Amnesty today is another word for quick money. I think it is a misplaced
national priority to even think about granting amnesty to a bunch of
people who, in all their activities, have shown criminality, have shown
cold blood murder and have no focus or issue. And it is unfortunate to
try to equate Boko Haram with the struggles of the Niger Delta.
the Niger Delta, a people, who were living peacefully and having their
own livelihood, were traumatized by the Federal Government with its
activities in oil exploration. Their land captured, their environment
polluted from 1957 till date. And the people decided to say, enough is
enough, you cannot take our oil and impoverish us. You cannot put 60 per
cent of our oil wealth in the hands of northerners and our environment
is not protected. You have to allow us control our resources so that we
can develop our place at the pace at which we found our resources. We
are willing to pay tax to the center as it is done every where that oil
was found’. That was what caused the Niger Delta crisis.
Niger Delta struggle was a purposeful and ideology based struggle. That
was the focus. Now, between 1996 and 2003, of course, it became an
all-comers struggle. Criminals who will go and steal on the streets will
claim that they kidnapped because of oil. Between 2003 and 2007 it went
out of hand because the military itself became a party to the process.
the time the Federal Government was offering amnesty, oil had been cut
down to 700 barrels per day by the activities of the people in the
creeks. Insecurity in the region made oil companies to foldup. Before,
the youths accepted amnesty, they sent representatives including myself
to dialogue with the government and they were series of meetings under
the late President Yar’Adua’s administration.
in accepting amnesty, the country recovered economically to the tune of
about 2.1million barrels per day and you know what that means to the
nation’s coffers. So, if from that pool, money is taken to rehabilitate
people, who so to say admitted that it is our mother land, we will now
allow government develop the region. Taking amnesty brought more value
to the government and it is now trying to reciprocate the gesture by
training people in the region.
’Militancy in the Niger Delta different from Boko Haram mayhem’
beyond the technicalities of talking about amnesty for a group of
people who are murderers, I think that government has misplaced its
priority in terms of what it is saying.
with the people, yes, amnesty, no. Amnesty is not an exit window for
criminals. These are people who have murdered over five thousand people
in cold blood. People are in churches, they bomb the churches, killing
people who are equally victims of bad governance like them. Again, 80
percent of these people are not Nigerians. So, if you are granting them
amnesty, where will you take the resources for which you are going to
reintegrate them? Is it the Niger Delta resources, our oil money to
integrate criminals and murderers in the North? That money should be put
on infrastructures across the country if the money is too much in the
’Jonathan taking bullshit’
am particularly worried that our president, in line with his broad
nationalism, is taking too many bullshit from too many people. He is the
most insulted president not because he has not worked, there is no
president that has done better than Goodluck in the history of Nigeria,
but people don’t seem to know because he is not a loud speaker, he does
not embarrass people.
’Posterity will not forgive Jonathan if he fails to develop the Niger Delta’
Jonathan is a broad-minded Nigerian, he is trying to balance projects
in all the regions and, in doing that, he has undermined his own region.
So the Niger Delta people have started clamouring why should we not
have more. But again he is the President of Nigeria not for Niger Delta.
It is now left for the Niger Delta members in the National Assembly to
ensure that there are resources in the appropriate ministries such as
the Ministry of the Niger Delta to develop the region. As it is today
the Ministry of Niger Delta is not being funded and that is why the
Minister is frustrated. If you check the money they appropriated for the
Niger Delta Ministry and that of Water Resources, you will see the
difference. I want to also say that Mr President must not feel that if
he develops the Niger Delta he will be blamed for it. Infact if he does
not develop the Niger Delta posterity will not forgive him.
committed themselves in developing Abuja because they have an agenda to
develop the North. Jonathan is not weak as people are saying, no weak
person can lead Nigeria. The problem is that this country is held by
cabals and those people don’t want the development of the Niger Delta.
So it is not Jonathan but a lot of people around him have their own
’Jonathan must run in 2015′
were in this country when youths were mobilized to Abuja, ‘Youth
Earnestly Ask for Abacha’, during the military rule, when all the five
political parties endorsed one man. We were in this country when
Obasanjo wanted to go for third term.
and others were arrested. Yes, they may have been involved in corrupt
practices but they became victims due to their opposition to the third
term bid. People are talking now because Jonathan is seen as a toothless
bull dog. He is seen as being weak, but they don’t know that it is in
that his weakness that he has his strength. How can you see a president
and say he should not contest again? The choice to contest is his but if
he decides to contest, nobody can stop him except the ballot. And if
they feel he cannot contest, then we should all be ready to pack our
may be the last President of Nigeria because a lot of predictions are
in line. There is the provision in the amalgamation law which says
that, if after hundred years we cannot co-exist, everybody can go his
way. These are signs of the end and we are happy about it those of us
from the Niger Delta.
earlier Nigeria breaks so that we can go and rebuild our economy and
our environment the better since Nigerians don’t know that Goodluck is a
blessing and a builder. Nobody can stop Jonathan, we have said that he
must contest and anybody who does not want to support us, no problem. We
will campaign throughout the nook and cranny of the country.