Buhari Won’t Negotiate With Niger Delta Militants –Akele | Independent Newspapers Limited
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Buhari Won’t Negotiate With Niger Delta Militants –Akele

Posted: Jul 1, 2016 at 4:20 am   /   by   /   comments (0)


Comrade Ayodele Akele is the National Secretary of the National Conscience Party (NCP). In this interview with EJIKEME OMENAZU, he speaks on his party’s coming National Convention, the Niger Delta crisis and the plan of his party to challenge the recent appointment of local government Sole Administrators by Governor Akinwunmi Ambode.

We learnt that the National Conscience Party (NCP) will soon hold its national convention. What are the issues that may come up during the event?

The national convention is a statutory requirement of the party to be held every three years. It is now due. It is at the convention that we will render account of our activities and give our financial reports. During the convention, we will chart a new path for our party. There will be a dissolution of the executive and a new one will emerge. The convention, a three-day event, will hold in Akure, Ondo State between July 13 and July 15. We will also use the occasion to honour the NCP late founder, Chief Gani Fawehinmi (SAN). We shall have a colloquium in his honour on Thursday July 14. The colloquium, titled “The State of the Nation: If Gani Were To Be Alive”, will be chaired by the former governor of Kaduna State, Alhaji Balarabe Musa.

What are the plans for the reposition of the NCP to compete with the other parties in the 2019 general elections?

The convection will be a congregation of ideas. During the convention, there will be resolutions that will forge a way forward for the party. It is during the convention that we will draw the agenda for the party for the next three or four years. The agenda will provide the competitive outlook of the party for 2019 and beyond.

What would you say have been the challenges of the party during the tenure of your executive?

Since we came in as an executive, the toughest problem we had was the threat of deregistration. We inherited a party that was at the verge of been deregistered by the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC). We fought against it and won. We took the INEC to court. Along the line, we asked for interim injunction to restrain INEC. But we had absolute confidence. We fought the case to the Appeal and we won. The judgment was so sound that it could not be faulted and the case ended there. But we were prepared to go to the Supreme Court if INEC had appealed the judgement of the Appeal Court. That case affected our plans to build the party, as we had in mind. Now, we have ample time to reposition the party as there is no more threat to our survival from the powers-that-be, which do not want other parties to exist.

What is your take on the on-going trial of Senate President, Bukola Saraki, and his Deputy, Ike Ekweremadu, over alleged forgery of the Senate Standing Order?

It has always been my view that there must be clear separation of powers. This must be respected. If not, there will be anarchy. There must be separation of powers between the Executive and the Legislature. There must also be separation of powers between the federal, state and local governments. I must also note that there are several perjury cases here and there, even involving President Muhammadu Buhari and some other eminent APC leaders like former governor Bola Tinubu. The Saraki and Ekweremadu case is now in court. So, let the Judiciary do its duty effectively and in fairness, without fear or favour. If they are found guilty, so let it be. If they are not found guilty, we will also know. The judicial process should be seen to be in progress and transparent.

The Senate President, Bukola Saraki, has alleged that there is a cabal controlling the federal government. How do you see this allegation coming from a Number Three citizen?

Saraki is an insider in the APC government at the centre. As a Senate President, he must know what he is saying. I am not part of APC. But he is being ostracised, even though he is in government. He has sources of his information. So, I cannot fault him. Saraki is not just an ordinary politician, he therefore knows better. But if it is true that a cabal is controlling the federal government, it is bad for the nation and the people of Nigeria. It means that they are really the ones controlling the government which Nigerians elected and gave their mandate to rule them. That is not what Nigerians bargained for. Nigerians know President Buhari, the ministers and the legislature. How can an unknown cabal be in power in a government put in place by the electorate? It will be a sad development and the betrayal of the trust on the part of Buhari for the electorate.

But, do you see the allegation of the existence of a cabal as being true?

Anything can happen under the Buhari administration. He has proved to be slippery, unstable and I can see him playing double standard. These can be seen from his so many unfulfilled promises, his one-sided anti-corruption crusade, one-sided appointments. All these are indices of a cabal in existence. Buhari was unable to go to the Niger Delta to flag off the Ogoni clean-up because threats by the militants. That would have been a good opportunity for him to show that he loves the people of Niger Delta. He does not want to go to South East because of the fear of Biafra agitators. He does not want to go to Agatu. But his kinsmen, the Fulani herdsmen have been causing havoc, raping and killing people and nothing is done to them. We no longer hear of his body language. Buhari has been demystified. If her cannot go to Rivers State to flag off the Ogoni Clean-up because of threats to his life, how does he want investors to have the confidence to come to this country? They will be scared.

The Deputy Senate President, Ike Ekweremadu, has reportedly written to the UK, US and EU over an alleged attempt of the President Buhari administration to silence him. What is your take on this development?

I am a human rights activist. I do not see anything wrong in externalising his case. He does not want to die in silence. What he is doing is right. The international community will hear his case. They will look at the issues dispassionately and say their mind without fear or favour. Look at what is happening to the Biafra agitators. Many were killed, arrested and detained for doing what they have the right to do. Peaceful protests are recognised by law. The people also have the right to determine their existence. Chief Awolowo and others agitated in the past. They even went to London to protest and they were not detained or killed. There is no respect for human rights in this country. The Buhari government is guilty of this.


The government likes propaganda and does not have evidence to condemn a lot of people that are being detained. That is why they are opting for secret trial, as in the case of Nnamdi Kanu of the Indigenous Peoples of Biafra (IPOB). So, if Ekweremadu complains to the international community over how he is being treated, you cannot blame him. Look at what the Fulani herdsmen are doing. They have been killing people everywhere and they are left like that. So, Ekweremadu is right to cry out. General Oladipo Diya was saved during his trials because he cried out. Members of the international community are not fools.

How do you see the activities of the Niger Delta Avengers (NDA) and the other emerging militants in the Niger Delta and the government’s recent resolve to go into dialogue with the stakeholders in the region?

You see, President Buhari is already begging the militants. He has realised the folly of his government in the way the Niger Delta issues are being handled. The language of democracy is dialogue and not arms and ammunition. Buhari wanted the military to crush Niger Delta. But, he cannot crush his people, the herdsmen who has been wreaking havoc across the nation. The Niger Delta is devastated because of several years of oil extraction and exploitation. Buhari’s approach is militaristic and undemocratic. The government’s order on the military to destroy the Niger Delta was penny wise pound foolish. He should have known that the soldiers do not know the terrain.

The country is in turmoil. There is a lot of killings, abductions, armed robberies, the economy is bad and there are agitations here and there. There is no peace anywhere. There is general apprehension. So, it was wrong for him to have given the military order to fight the militants in the first place.

On the dialogue, I do not know how Buhari will bring this about when the Niger Deltans do not trust him. Some of the militants want him to lead the dialogue. I do not see Buhari going there for any dialogue when he is afraid. He failed to go to Rivers to flag off the Ogoni clean-up because of the threat by the militants. I do not know how he will bring them to a round table. They do not trust him because right from the beginning, he has been anti-Niger Delta.

On the recent flag off of the Ogoni clean-up, how serious do you think the government is with this project?

I cannot speak for the government. But, I know that it is desirable. It is a United Nations Environmental Programme (UNEP) recognised programme. The Ogoni Clean-up will take over 30 years. But, it is necessary. I will love to see commitment on the part of the government on this project to assuage the feelings of the Niger Delta, because they are the geese that lay the golden eggs.

What is your view on the recent appointment of Sole Administrators for the local governments in Lagos State by Governor Akinwunmi Ambode?

The governor’s action is the latest in the flagrant abuse of the constitution and an aberration. By his action, he has tampered with the decision of the lower court by dissolving illegal caretaker committees and changing their nomenclature to Sole Administrators. He has also tinkered with the local government laws that have nothing to do with conduct of local government election in reality. I see his action as a subversion of democracy at this third tier of government. This is part of the impunity of the APC government. They do not seem to be sure of themselves even though they are in power. That is why they are planning to rig the elections whenever they decide to hold it. That is why they are using this delay tactics to frustrate other political parties, especially the NCP. Yet they are using our victory in court as their excuse to delay the council election when they are the ones that went to the Appeal Court. By their delay in conducting the local government election, the Federal Allocations are being paid to people who are illegally appointed. This is also unconstitutional.

What will your party do over the take over of the councils by the Sole Administrators?

In other to save local government system in Lagos and curb the excesses and impunity of the Lagos State government and the APC, our party has resolved to further institute another legal action against the state government. We shall challenge the unconstitutional amendment of the local government administrative law by the government. We have already put machinery in motion to go to court over this. To stop the continued payment of Federal Allocations to illegal authorities, we are also going to court to file for an order of mandamus to stop further remittance to illegal caretaker or sole administrator heading local government and the money kept in suspense account and should only be released after a democratically elected councils take over governance of local governments.

Also, we are determined to follow up the appeal at the Court of Appeal in spite of the crude delay tactics aimed to frustrate our legal struggle. Our party is demanding that the Minister of Finance put on hold further remittance of Federal Allocation due to local governments in Lagos State until after a properly organised council election. We are also demanding a public probe into the allocations to councils in Lagos, since the tenure of illegal caretaker committees. We shall also ask the federal government to bring to book and prosecute the impostors, illegal occupants, usurpers and meddlesome interlopers in the name of caretaker committees or Sole Administrators over misappropriation and illegal collection of funds.