- For encouraging disunity!
By Ohia Israel
The Niger Delta militants have again threatened to take up arms if President Goodluck Jonathan failed to win in the coming February 14 presidential election. The former militants made the assertion when they met with the Bayelsa State Governor, Seriake Dickson recently. They said Jonathan’s re-election was not negotiable. While addressing the audience, a leader of the militant, Boyloaf declared:
“We are Nigerians but not one Nigeria; what brings us together is oil. The North wants to use insecurity excuse to push out our own. One thing I can assure you is that though I am retired, I am not tired. We can go back to the struggle. We own the resources and they are saying we do not have the right to rule. I will assure you that we must collect our oil back. If they take back power from us, we will take back our oil. Let us fight this last fight and I tell you the devil is a liar.”
On his part, another militant leader, Mujahid Dokubo-Asari, said: “For every Goliath, God created a David. For every Pharoah, there is a Moses. We are going to war. Every one of you should go and fortify yourself”.
Addressing the former militant leaders, who converged on the Banquet Hall, Government House, Yenagoa, Bayelsa state Governor, Dickson called on them and their estimated 30,000 foot soldiers as well as the Ijaw nation to be united in their support for the re-election of Jonathan. He said the time had come for all stakeholders and interest groups in the Niger Delta, especially, the Ijaw nation, to pool their resources and work in one accord to ensure the President’s victory on February 14.
In a related development, another radical group, Movement for the Liberation of the Niger Delta (MELINDA), in an online statement to AkanimoReports last week Monday, says it is unfortunate that President Jonathan does not appear to understand what is at stake in the game of political leadership over the Nigerian state.
Spokesman for MELINDA, Joshua Gowa, said in the statement, ”it is time for him (Jonathan) to see that peaceful rhetoric like ‘my ambition is not worth the blood of any Nigerian’ does not matter for those who have enjoyed a military background that includes coup d’etats, defence sabotage and political vandalism”.
According to them, ”we have watched with great interest, the plot by political stakeholders to wrest political power by any means possible from Jonathan. We have seen an alliance of very strange bedfellows including sons of the Niger Delta and people who have been strong beneficiaries of the agitation of the Niger Delta.
”We have seen the resources of Rivers State deployed to undermine a Presidency led by Jonathan, a son of the Niger Delta. We have also seen the corrupt earnings of a former Governor of Bayelsa State being used to oil the violent political machinery of General Muhammadu Buhari. We have seen all that”.
This is coming following the attack of the presidential convoy of President Jonathan on January 21, by alleged political soldiers of the opposition. The president however, escaped unhurt.
Warning, MELINDA said, ”any further attack on the president in any part of Northern Nigeria will lead to violence, bloodshed and destruction like never before witnessed in the history of Black Africa”.
Continuing, they said, ”it is important to note that even as we have our grudges with President Jonathan, it is sacrilegious to attack an illustrious son of the Niger Delta. We will neither forgive nor forget.
”For too long now, the peoples of the Niger Delta have been raped and overly wronged by the so-call Northern hegemony who have today found an alliance with a power hungry bloc from the South West region in their rabid quest to wrest power from a son of the Niger Delta who continues to refuse to accept the real issues at stake and still believes that humility and meekness is a virtue in 21st century Nigeria”.
According to the group, ”in the next few weeks, in line with emerging and evolving realities, we will begin to do what we think is right. Anyone who is part of the plot to undermine Jonathan will be punished in what will be tagged Operation Locust Feast.
At the moment, MELINDA is urging all combatants in the oil region to continue to exercise restraint in the face of alleged continued provocative persecution on Jonathan.
”Those who think that we have lost our capacity for nauseous nuisance value must be made to see that the chicken has come to roost and that push has indeed come to shove”, they said, adding that the Nigerian state might just never be the same again.
Meanwhile, Nigerians in their numbers have condemned the recent drums of war by the Niger Delta Militants, as the All Progressive Congress Presidential Campaign Organisation (APCPCO) has urged President Goodluck Jonathan and his party, the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), to call to order Niger Delta ex-militants who were threatening to wage war against the country in the event that their “son” loses the February 14 presidential election.
The APCPCO, in a statement by its Director of Media and Publicity, Garba Shehu, argued that the “irresponsible ultimatum by the ex-militants was not only a barbaric threat on the sovereignty of our republic, but goes against the spirit and letter of the non-violence pact to which President Jonathan is a signatory.”
The campaign team observed that the declaration of war against the state is causing panic and concern among Nigerians who are already embattled by so many challenges particularly of insecurity, which have been begging for attention.
The party reminded President Jonathan that as Commander-in-Chief, it is his primary responsibility to ensure the protection of the citizens and their property and that such open declaration of war by the ex-militants and several other acts of violence need to be denounced by him in the interest of the democracy, unity and stability of Nigeria.
According to the campaign organization, these drum beats by elements associated with President Jonathan need to change to peace beats so that the citizens, especially the youth need to be encouraged that the sustenance of the country’s democracy is better achieved through the ballot and not the bullet.
The APC called on Jonathan to make good on his declaration that his “re-election is not worth the blood of any Nigerian”, by calling these war mongers in his domain to order.
Moreover, just last week, also A former Chief of Army Staff, Lt. Gen. Theophilus Danjuma (retd.), called for the arrest of an ex-Niger Delta militants, including Mujahideen Dokubo-Asari and Government Ekpudomenowei(akaTompolo) for threatening to declare war against the nation if President Goodluck loses the February 14 election.
Danjuma, who described the threat as “unguarded and reckless,” warned that “miscreants” must not be allowed to hold the country by the jugular.
Danjuma while inaugurating the Kwankwasiyya City alongside Kano State Governor Rabiu Kwankwaso, on Wednesday wondered why Dokubo-Asari and Ebikabowei were heating up the polity. He reminded them that since Nigeria and its resources belonged to everyone, no one must hold the government to ransom.
The former defence minister urged the necessary government agencies to immediately arrest the ex-militants. “You should arrest Asari Dokubo, Tompolo, Boyloaf and other Niger Delta militants for making reckless statements, which in any way does not mean keeping Nigeria as one entity. They create a war situation.
“Those were reckless statements coming from irresponsible individuals; they should be condemned and arrested immediately. In a situation like this, the issue of entrenching peace in the country is what is needed most. We should not allow some miscreants to hold us to ransom,” Danjuma said.
The former defence minister maintained that “Nigeria belongs to everybody and we must do everything possible to safeguard her unity.” He added: “As we are approaching election time, we must strive to ensure that important issues are thoroughly discussed but not personalities. We want to have a perfect election where no one would have an axe to grind with anybody. Once politicians base their campaigns on issues not personalities and avoid anything capable of causing disaffection, I am confident that we would have foul-free elections.”
Also last week, a civil rights group, Human Rights Writers Association Of Nigeria (HURIWA) faulted the calls for the arrest and prosecution of erstwhile Niger Delta militants, Asari Dokubo; Government Ekpemupolo (alias Tompolo), among others for allegedly threatening violence should President Goodluck Jonathan not win in the February 14 polls.
HURIWA said the call for their arrest coming from a retired General from a section of the country whereby some persons threatened to make the country ungovernable should President Jonathan win in the 2011 election amounts to selective amnesia and sectional and therefore must be rejected.
But the Rights group said whilst it has consistently cautioned against the use of intemperate and/or offensive speeches by politically exposed persons especially in this dangerous season of elections, it will not support the call for the arrest and prosecution of the former militants for exercising their constitutionally protected fundamental rights to freedom of expression and freedom of assembly.
HURIWA which cautioned all political players from all sections of the country, has also reminded those advocating the selective arrest and prosecution of the Niger Delta Civil Society leaders over alleged use of emotive and/or offensive speeches that many sectional political elites in Northern Nigeria have consistently made similar threatening speeches against the corporate entity of Nigeria but there was no call for their arrest from same quarter.
Citing section 39(1) of the constitution which provides that “Every person shall be entitled to freedom of expression, including freedom to hold opinions and to receive and impart ideas and information without interference”, the Rights group advised all political players of diverse affiliations to moderate their speeches because of the sensitivity of the election season.
HURIWA in a statement endorsed jointly by the National Coordinator Comrade Emmanuel Onwubiko and the National Director of Media Miss Zainab Yusuf also called on leaders of ethnic groups across the country to play the role of a unifying force rather than continue to beat the drums of war.
HURIWA also defended the recent meeting in Yenagoa, Bayelsa State attended by the Special Adviser to the President on Niger Delta Affairs Mr. Kingsley Kuku and the state governor during which time the erstwhile militant leaders warned of severe consequences should President Jonathan be rigged out of the coming election.
The Rights group said: “The constitution of Nigeria in section 41(1) provides that “Every citizens of Nigeria is entitled to assemble freely and associate with other persons, and in particular he may form or belong to any political party trade union or any other association for the protection of his interest.”
The Rights group opined that it was wrong for some persons to peddle the insinuations that since the Presidential Adviser on Niger Delta Affairs attended the said meeting, President Jonathan sanctioned the alleged threats made by the erstwhile Niger Delta Militants. The group argued that President Jonathan has severally promised to abide by the decision of the electorate at the Presidential election.