Founder of the Niger Delta People’s Volunteer Force (NDPV), Alhaji Mujahid Asari-Dokubo, was in his elements, spitting fire in an explosive interview with The Nation on Sunday. He spoke of his people’s alleged desire for Nigeria’s separation, as well as on burning political issues – everything from ongoing infighting within the People’s Democratic Party, President Goodluck Jonathan’s 2015 ambitions to the insurgency in the North East. Excerpts:
What is your assessment of the Amnesty Programme?
For me the way the amnesty programme is being managed, it has brought a lot of positive result. A lot of people have been trained; there has never been any adult scholarship programme in Nigeria that has trained as many people as the amnesty programme has done. A lot of people have been given a new lease of life; a lot of people have changed for the better.
Are you satisfied with the programme so far?
I think the name amnesty should be changed. It should be a collective programme for the people of the oil-bearing communities in Niger Delta. It is wrong for you to single out a group of people. These people when they started their agitation, according to them, they were not agitating for themselves, they were agitating on behalf of the people, so you cannot go on and give them a bribe (amnesty programme) in total exclusion of the people they claimed they were fighting for. And it is also wrong for them to accept the amnesty because they were delegates and they considered themselves as delegates, so they were on errand for the people. So, morally it is wrong. So, the programme should be given to the oil-bearing communities and not the whole of Niger Delta. It should be given to communities who have suffered deprivation, degradation of their environment and social dislocation.
Are you suggesting expanding the scope of the amnesty?
Yes, the amnesty programme, as presently constituted, is criminalised because first, you have to demoralise the people, criminalise the people to grant them a pardon, which is wrong. Then the people who accept amnesty have betrayed the people because when they started they said they were fighting on behalf of the people, so if you go and accept benefit and that benefit does not translate to the improvement of lives of those people, then you have betrayed the people.
Is it in terms of benefit they have betrayed the people?
Yes, it is in terms of benefit because if they take the amnesty, they go for training and they are paid N65,000 while the generality of the people who they claimed they were fighting for did not have such benefit.
In spite of the programme, we still have prevalence of oil theft and people are now saying the amnesty is not succeeding. What is your take on this?
That is why the amnesty is wrong, the amnesty is immoral. It is for 30,000 people as against the millions of people from the oil-bearing communities. Why were they singled out? Other people said, “Oh, so una dey give them bribe, oya now, make we see whether that bribe go work.” So the people own the oil, they own the land in which the oil comes from and if they single out other people and give them and leave others, then they will take from the pipeline because everything you are saying is in the pipeline.
Are ex-militants behind oil theft?
I don’t know who a militant is; I have never known them. I don’t know the meaning of militant and I have never known that word. I have never even checked it in the dictionary.
What will you call those who have been agitating in the Niger Delta, including those in your group?
Was Mandela called a militant? Was Kwame Nkrumah called a militant? If they did not call Mandela, Kwame Nkrumah and even Saro Wiwa a militant, why should I be called a militant? I am not a militant and I don’t know the meaning of militant.
Are you a revolutionary?
Yes, I am. Revolution means violent action towards change.
Now, the amnesty programme has a time frame…
I don’t know. The question is not for me because I took the government of the late President Umaru Yar’Adua to court challenging him under the constitution of Nigeria whether he had the power to grant amnesty…he did not have the power to. I took him to the Federal High Court in 2009.
In spite of that they are still running the programme. Why are you still making an issue out of it?
That is because Nigeria is a lawless country. The whims and caprices of individuals cannot now become law. Yar’Adua cannot be moving on the street of Abuja and then see me and say: ‘I have granted you amnesty because you are from the Niger Delta and you look like a militant.’
I thought you were part of the deal
I am shocked and it shows that you didn’t read my write up because if you did, you would have known that I took them to court. You would have known that I refused to be given pardon and I have not accepted pardon from anybody because I have not committed any crime and I am not a militant.
Due to oil theft, multinational companies are trying to disinvest in the Niger Delta. Are you not concerned about this?
Very good! They should leave, that is what we have been praying for. They should not just disinvest onshore, they should also disinvest offshore.
Who will manage our oil considering that they have the technical knowledge?
Who said we want them to manage any oil? Nobody said so. We don’t want our oil to be used, our environment to be degraded, our people to suffer from all sorts of diseases occasioned by oil production and exploitation. If they stop, good for us.
How will Nigeria manage its oil sector or take over?
What is my business? Why would Nigeria come and take over what is in Buguma, did I go to take over what is in Kano? Why should Buguma matter be different from Kano or Sokoto? Why would the governor of Adamawa talk about Buguma when I don’t have anything to do in Yola?
These are natural resources that belong to the people of Buguma, how would you exploit them?
Buguma people are not ready to exploit it now. When they are ready, we will, but for now we don’t want anything. If they are going, we will applaud them. There is no reason whatsoever for you to exploit my resources to come and develop Abuja. I support convocation of Sovereign National Conference which is the simple minimum demand we are making.
What about true federalism?
I don’t know anything about that because in dictionary, I have never seen any word like true federalism as illiterate as I am, but there is federalism. Nigerians cannot be creating words to the exclusion of the whole world. We know what federal system of government and unitary system of government are, there is nothing like true federalism. You are a federation and even if you are, the people must agree to be Nigerians and we have never sat down to agree. Nations are not built by one Lugard or when someone says from today, you people are Nigerians. That is what is wrong with Nigeria.
But the argument of the government is that there can’t be two sovereignties?
We have gone past that. The president said he is not averse to the convocation of a Sovereign National Conference. The president of the Senate, David Mark, has come out and said national conference is necessary. So, we are getting nearer. Those of us who have been shouting on top of our voice are coming nearer and closer. Sovereign National Conference, I pray, will be convened in my lifetime. That is my ultimate dream. By that time, I will campaign among my people for what we want and what we want is independence. After the independence we will go our separate ways peacefully so that we will not be hearing about Boko Haram or MEND which will be a Niger Delta problem and from there, it will become an Ijaw problem. I cannot be carrying other people’s burden.
Does that mean you don’t mind if the nation is dismembered?
I am the first person who advocated it to the Supreme Court and that was why I was put on treason trial. My belief, aspiration or prayer is that Nigeria should be dismembered. This Nigeria, I don’t want it.
What is really wrong with Nigeria having come such a long way?
We didn’t come anywhere. Somebody cannot just say from today you are Nigerians. Why? What power does he have? Is he God? And he says he’s an English man. Do you know that anybody who calls himself a Nigerian is an inferior person? How can someone just look at you and call you a Nigerian and so you are?
I thought there is now equity in Nigeria since power has shifted to the South-South?
If power has shifted to the South-South and one man or some people say if Jonathan wins the PDP primaries by default or by any other means, he will fail at the general election… and if he wins, they will make the country ungovernable and now they have fulfilled their words of making the country ungovernable. Kano and Jigawa states’ governors have clearly said if Goodluck gets PDP ticket, they are going to disgrace him at the general election – which they cannot. So they have continued in their drumming of crisis and war. They failed in 2011 and they are going to fail in 2015. So, why would you want to be part of a country where some people think they are born to rule?
But I thought at a stage, you granted an interview and you had some grouses against the president and his re-election bid?
You did not read my interview, if you had read my interview, you won’t say so. I can quote my words as printed by PUNCH Newspaper. If some people decide to say what they like, that is their business. This is what I said and thank God, book no dey lie. It was published in PUNCH on the 22nd of December 2012.
I said: “First, there was no need for Jonathan, whatsoever, to disagree with Obasanjo. I don’t like Obasanjo, I don’t like his face, I hate him, but he was instrumental to bringing Jonathan to power. And the greedy people around Jonathan have not managed him well enough to prevent an open clash between him and Obasanjo. And if you check, all the people who supported Jonathan and fought to bring him to power have openly disagreed with him, what were the causes of these disagreements? These are the questions we want to put to the president. It is alarming because the South-South must have its uninterrupted eight years’ tenure which is constitutional, but with how things are going under Jonathan, we are afraid that we may not be able to have our eight years, because there will be no magic about it, if it is going to be one-man-one-vote.
“Some people say Obasanjo is manipulating Jonathan, that is why Jonathan is disagreeing with him, and we ask: ‘what has Jonathan’s government achieved to show that it is a departure from other governments that have existed since 1956?’ For us, nothing has changed. It is still business as usual. So, what is the advice that Obasanjo gave to Jonathan that is so difficult for him to fulfill, that made him to decide to fall out with the former president? Obasanjo was instrumental to and manipulated the process that illegally removed Diepreye Alamieyeseigha as the governor of Bayelsa State and installed Jonathan as governor, then made him vice-president, fought for him to become acting president and also fought for him to become President of Nigeria. Apart from Obasanjo, there are so many people who supported Jonathan; some have been pushed out by those who were not there to give him any support, while some others are trapped and they cannot talk.
“The problem is that the president is surrounded by very greedy people who do not want him to make any progress. I have known the president for more than 20 years, and I know he is very simple and humane, but he has allowed himself to be imprisoned by the people around him, and this is what we are saying that the situation must stop. After the election and before his swearing-in, I granted an interview where I said that if Jonathan failed to perform in six months, he would lose all the goodwill, and today as we can see, the president is losing all the goodwill.
The social media was one of the avenues the president used to come to power, but today, anywhere you go on the social media, he is being called all sorts of names: clueless and other derogatory names. We cannot continue to take punches for the president when he has refused to wear his gloves. The president is removed from his own people, his people do not have access to him; so, people like us who have access to him become targets. When Joseph was sold into captivity in Egypt, from slavery to prison and from prison he became a prime minister, the first thing he did was to invite his family from Israel to Egypt to come and partake in his new-found glory.
“There is something wrong somewhere, the people around the president have fenced him and put him in ‘Kirikiri Prison’ so that he cannot even see his direct family. I have complained to Ijaw elders, that I cannot keep quiet over things that I have seen, and they say I should wait. I am asking here, how long will we keep quiet? Our people now feel that we are at the riverside and yet use spittle to wash our face. People are dying on the East-West Road, Jonathan and (Godsday) Orubebe are doing nothing. Both of them will account for the deaths on the road. I continue to be an advocate of an eight-year presidency in the South-South and eight years in the South-East because the old Eastern Region was the most deprived region in this country if you consider the people that have ruled this country.” So, how was I against the president? People continue to quote me wrongly and say I am against Jonathan.
Are you still standing by some of these observations?
Yes! Go to the East-West road now, something massive is going on and it is almost completed. You can drive from Port Harcourt to Elele, from Warri to Ughelli, work is also ongoing. So, if I said something in December last year and after I said it, the Catholic Bishop said it also at the funeral of Azazi, Amaechi said it and different socio-cultural organisations including the Council of Warlords said it. They reechoed what I have said.
Does it mean the president is responding?
Yes, he is responding not only to the road but on a lot of vital issues.
On what basis does Jonathan deserve a second term?
He deserves a second term first. No apologies. He is an Ijaw man like me; he deserves it and no apologies whatsoever. Second, which is most important to any other person is: when the colonialist left, they left functional railways, but before Goodluck came to power the railways were dead. When the colonialists were leaving, they left functional agriculture but all of them died before Goodluck came to power. Today, agriculture is being revived. During Obasanjo’s eight years, you could not travel the Ore-Benin road; it was a death trap but today the road is open and people are travelling. Go to Oyo-Ilorin road, it has been expanded and people are travelling.
Obasanjo awarded Abuja-Lokoja road at an unbelievable amount but construction did not go beyond two to three kilometres. Yar’ Adua came and he did not do anything. But now the road is near completion. Direct foreign investment has increased. So, if, from 1956 to 2010, they were not able to achieve anything and somebody in a space of three years has changed these things and has achieved so much, then if you add all of them together, they have not achieved as much as what Jonathan has achieved in three years.
That means you are not disturbed by the activities of the G-7 PDP governors and the Baraje faction?
They are political miscreants because there is no faction in the PDP. PDP is the PDP and there is only one PDP recognised by the law. What they are doing is illegal and against the law.
But the same president is holding peace talks with them
That is why we are angry with Jonathan. Why should the president hold meeting with them? The president should put them where they belong.
Where do they belong?
Where they belong is to be chased from the PDP and those of them that do not have immunity, the full weight of the law should be brought against them and they should be dealt with decisively.
But the fear is that they can stop the president
How? Did the president win in Kano, Sokoto, Niger, and Jigawa in 2011?
But he won in Kwara?
Yes, and he is going to win in Kwara, he will win in Niger now clearly and he will win more votes in Kano. He will win. Did Kwankwaso people not print his poster with Buhari in 2011? Did Kwankwaso support Goodluck? If it is Lamido, yes, we agree, but did the support translate into victory? So all this bragging is nothing. Did Amaechi bring any vote? I was the chieftain of ACN, all other parties scored zero. Goodluck scored 100% vote in my ward. There were agents for all the parties but in my ward, every party scored zero, they didn’t score one vote. Did Amaechi bring it or did he come near my ward? Amaechi cannot even win in his unit; he does not have the capacity to win election even in his unit.
We are waiting and we pray to God to keep us alive till 2015, then you will come and see if Amaechi can win in his unit in 2015 and not to talk of his ward. In the last election, didn’t you hear what they did to a policeman in Amaechi’s town? How police officers were stripped naked by the people of his community. He is not able to control his community and he wants to rule Rivers State. Look at people they are training in Kano for martial art, if I do it in my school they will say I am training militia.
You seem to have no fear about 2015, what is the secret?
I don’t have any fear, except for what God will do and Goodluck will not be alive which we pray that God will not at this time that he has brought us to a reasonable level of development. Goodluck will not leave us mid-stream, he will take us to the shore because 2015 is a foregone conclusion. There is going to be political cemetery for many political heavy weights where we are going to inter them because Goodluck is going to demystify everybody. People should not be afraid. And for the men of God that said God sent them, people will know that God did not send them.
How about this coalition of opposition coming together to form All Progressives Congress, you were once in their midst, what happened?
I was, because we shared the same political belief, ideology and aspiration but if somebody leaves that platform to join people who are conservative and you want me to join them I cannot. I saw NPN as a young man before I joined UPN, and I became the youth leader of UPN in Degema community. I saw PDP before I joined AD, I saw PDP before I joined ACN. So, if you now merge the PDP elements with yourself and you want me to join, why would I join? That is not the political ideology I saw and joined.
Would there really be war if Goodluck does not win in 2015?
Goodluck’s winning is a foregone conclusion. He will never lose, Insha Allah. It is they who said if he wins, they will make the polity ungovernable. So it is they who will bring the war and we will reply them. For every action, there is an opposite and equal reaction. They said the baboons and the dogs will be soaked in the street. We will help them to soak the street with more blood. I have no apology for that as I said on Channels TV. As you prepare for war, you think say me I go sleep? No, me too dey prepare. Allah said in the Quran, ‘they plotted and we too are plotting, we are the best of plotters.’ So, if you plot to soak the blood of the dogs and baboons, should we fold our hands and expect them to come and kill us? No, it is not possible.
Ex-President Olusegun Obasanjo has been trying to assist the president by convening peace talks to meet with feuding members of the PDP, but some people are saying…
Don’t say some people; I was the first person who came out to say that Obasanjo is the agent provocateur. I was the first person who said Obasanjo is the instigator. Atiku has also come out to say Obasanjo is the one; Atiku who is a co-conspirator. Obasanjo is an insatiable man.
Let me tell you a secret, when Yar’Adua was there, I met with his then Chief Economic Adviser, Tanimu Yakubu. Please, write it the way I said it. He (Tanimu) came to meet me in my hotel room and said, the place Obasanjo put you, you will go back there. Tanimu is alive, if he fears God, he will not deny it. If Yar’Adua had continued, Obasanjo would have been in jail and he knows that. So whatever thing Obasanjo and Goodluck are doing together (like the friction), I don’t know. But I know that Obasanjo has not been fair to Goodluck. I have known Goodluck for over twenty years; I don’t know what Obasanjo tells Goodluck because Goodluck has not told me. When I said Goodluck had no business quarrelling with Obasanjo, one Yoruba retired military officer called me on phone and spoke with me for more than one hour. He said Obasanjo is a fox. He said he has known Obasanjo for as long as his adult life and he knows that Goodluck has not done anything against Obasanjo. He said Obasanjo’s life is about constant plotting and betrayal; that is what the general told me.
When you came from the creek and met Obasanjo at the Villa, what was your impression of him?
Was it not after I met with him and gave out about 3200 firearms and over 300 ammunition and bombs that he invited me to the police station and arrested me and threw me into prison? Is that a man to be trusted? He did not honour his own part of the agreement, he cannot honour because he believes in brute force and anyone who is dealing with him should also deal with him that way. Obasanjo has no business being free and moving freely for all that he stole. For the destruction of Odioma, Zaki Biam, he has no business walking free. I have been in court over Zaki Biam and Odioma. Our court system or judiciary is so bad and corrupt that any case they don’t want, they don’t listen to it.
How should the president manage Obasanjo?
I don’t know how he should manage Obasanjo but I believe that the president ought to take Obasanjo for what he is and subject him to the scrutiny of the law.
But will that be fair to President Jonathan’s predecessor and mentor?
If a mentor has turned an enemy, what would you do? You will allow him to continue to breed crisis that occasions loss of lives and properties?
What is your opinion about the spate of violence in the north and even the recent incident in Kenya? How can we curtail terrorism in this country?
It is a global problem. It is a clash of civilisation; Islamic civilisation and the Jewish-Western civilisation controlled by the Jewish Masonic order. Islam is the only other ideology that has refused to succumb to the Jewish Masonic order and for that, Muslims are being oppressed all over the world. America invades Muslim countries, they kill Muslims at will, promoting Jewish Masonic order, promoting Zionism. Strangers were brought from Europe and put on Arab land, they confiscated a cage and put Arab in an open prison and concentration camp.
Arabs were not Hitler. If Hitler put Jews in concentration camp, is that why Arabs have to be put in concentration camp in Gaza where they cannot go out? Today in Libya, there is no peace and development, they destroyed Libya. In Egypt now, election was won by the Muslim Brotherhood’s Justice and Freedom Party, but they overthrew the government and killed thousands of people. America is talking about killing of people with gas but somebody came out openly to shoot people in the full glare of international television and nothing is done about it. They unleashed on Syria their dogs and thugs to perpetually keep the Muslim land unstable. Let America mind their business and the world will have peace.
Is terrorism the solution considering the fact that Islam is a religion of peace?
If they attack you, will you not attack back? Islam does not support a person to go to a shopping mall to go and kill people. That is cowardice. You cannot kill unarmed people but we should also know that when somebody is frustrated, he can do anything.
Back home, how do we resolve the issue?
Nigerian matters or crises? The people that should be arrested and brought in for questioning are the Kaitas and the Ciromas. They should be arrested because they are the people who promised mayhem in 2011 and the mayhem is taking place in their home. “He who rides on the back of a tiger, e go easy to end up for tiger belle.”
Does that mean there is political undertone in all these crises in the north?
Yes, they thought that they could control these elements; they didn’t know that there are some people you cannot control. They want to use them to exact confusion…that is what these political miscreants led by the so-called seven governors are doing. They want the president to say he will not contest for second term. It is the same Boko Haram demand which Dr. Ahmed Gumi said, once the president says he is not contesting, Boko Haram insurgency will end. So there is a connection with what the seven governors are demanding and Boko Haram. There is a connection because they encourage them.
But the president is trying to reach out to them but they are not embracing it?
That is what we are saying, the president is wrong. He should leave them alone, let them do their worst. Where they go pass impeach Jonathan now? There are certain things they cannot imagine not to talk of doing. The president should not bother himself about them. How many times did they try to impeach Obasanjo? Mark my word, Goodluck Jonathan will win. If he won with 6 million votes before, he will win now with 10 million.
What do you make of the political tension in the country?
Don’t allow a man who you think is a weak man to wake up; don’t force him to wake up. When a man is sleeping, don’t force him to wake up. When someone is sleeping and you keep tapping him, when he wakes up, he will become wild. Don’t wake a sleeping man because the claws of government, when he digs it inside their flesh, it will rip off their flesh. When you force a man to do what he does not want to do… In Nigeria, you can only compare Goodluck with ex-President Shehu Shagari. These people are easy going people and when you continue to criticise him, you are giving chance to those of us who are extra-extremist to be telling the president to behave like a president and then his name will change from ‘clueless’ which they have started and they have changed to ‘bully’ and from ‘bully’, he will be called ‘dictator.’
That is what will happen. As for governors Adams Oshiomole and Rotimi Amaechi they have calculated well; they are thinking of post-2015 politics. If Goodluck is president till 2019, Amaechi will be out of power from 2015 to 2019. Even if he goes to the Senate, he will not be anything but an ordinary floor member. But if Goodluck goes, he will either become the Vice President or the Senate President. All he (Amaechi) is thinking about is manipulation. For Oshiomole, he is from the South-South and he is in the political cooler because there will be no election in the next three years and maybe by then, he will lose political relevance and he does not want that to happen. It is not like the United States of America where if you are a democrat, you are a democrat. So they have calculated and it is their personal greed they are pursuing.
Where did you get this inspiration to be a revolutionary?
I grew up under my grandmother and my grandmother was the transition between the glorious past of our people. That was when our people were free. My grandmother was born on the 22nd of November 1900. Her grandfather was King Amakiri. He died and was buried on the 15th of November 1900. My grandmother lived in a world where she saw and owned slaves, she had people serving her but all that came to an end with the coming of Nigeria. When my mother had me unlike my other siblings, I was taken to my grandmother and she taught me the lessons that I still carry with me. She said, “Do everything to restore the glory of the past.”
Was she the one who sent you to school?
I attended primary one to four before my father came back from law school, but as at that time I had been given enough education by my grandmother and then I became close to radical political ideology from Iran and Libya. I visited the late Muammar Ghadaffi in Libya several times because he was my political mentor and he was one of the greatest men God has created on earth. He was the greatest lover of Africa. I have never met anybody who loves Africa as much as Ghadaffi.
I got to know about this through my interaction with him. When you speak with someone, you will know his passion. I used to talk to him into the wee hours of the night and he hardly spoke English with anybody but I forced him to speak English with me. He understood English very well but he brought someone to translate and I persuaded him to speak with me in English. Ghadaffi used to see me as one of the hopes of Africa and he had connection and interaction with Nelson Mandela and all the genuine freedom fighters in Africa. My interaction with these people who love freedom has really influenced my life.
Were you born into Islam?
I became a Muslim on the 17th of September 1988 at Calabar. I was influenced by the Iranian Revolution and it was the greatest influence because I have always detested America. I have always detested the bullying and the double standard of America. So when the Iranian Revolution started, I started reading about Islam and I later became a Muslim.
Is your being a revolutionary for personal gain because people say ex-militants are now moneybags?
I don’t know what ex-militants are, so when you are talking with me, you should know the word to use. I am 50 years old and I come from a background of kings who ruled their country until 1899 when Britain cajoled them to sign their protectorates to become Nigeria. So if I had come from United Arab Emirate, Great Britain, Saudi Arabia, and I am a prince, what will I be called? Are you saying that I should not fight to restore that sovereignty? I am an Amakri, I don’t know where I get money from. So the Otedolas, the Adenugas, the Dangotes are entitled to have wealth from the resources from my place but I don’t have the right to make money.
The very purpose of my struggle is to free my people and restore the totality of what belongs to us. We want our sovereignty and wealth, so those who are from poverty stricken places, those who ordinarily would have been slaves should keep on wallowing in their poverty and slavery. There is no reason for Mike Adenuga to have money while the son of Saro-Wiwa does not have. It is immoral and unjust.
They sign pieces of paper and give them oil blocks just like that to go and take resources from another man’s backyard because it is Nigeria. Some of them have never been to the places where they have these oil blocks and their accounts are fatter daily to the shock and sweat of other people.
Are you saying there is nothing wrong with ex-militants getting pipeline or maritime protection contracts?
Who should be given the contract? If Tompolo is not given contract, who should be given? If they are giving any Niger Delta contract, who is more qualified to have it?
Is it not the job of the NNPC?
Is it not the job of NNPC to explore oil, why should Dangote and Otedola be given oil blocks? Is it not the job of NNPC to explore oil? Tompolo is a citizen of Nigeria and is expected to have equal access to wealth that is exploited from his back yard. The pipeline contract that I was given has been terminated since July 2012. Am I dead now? I am alive and I am still going to be alive. They don’t understand me, if they do, they won’t say what they are saying. Obasanjo gave me endless opportunities to become so many things and I rejected them.
People have become rich overnight because of this amnesty and if I was after money, I would have embraced it. Is the north not demanding for amnesty to collect free money? How many can do what I did? When you accept pardon, it shows that you committed a crime. Who was more popular than myself in the Niger Delta? If they are claiming amnesty, I should be the first to claim it. The day Tompolo came to handover, Yar’Adua said one person is still remaining, but I refused because I am not a militant. So, money is not the issue because I was born to be rich.