There Is Need To Renegotiate Nigeria’s Existence – Ozobo | Independent Newspapers Limited
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There Is Need To Renegotiate Nigeria’s Existence – Ozobo

Austin Ozobo 3
Posted: Apr 18, 2016 at 3:40 am   /   by   /   comments (1)

Comrade Austin Ozobo, a Niger Delta activist is the National President, Ijaw People’s Development Initiative (IPDI). In this exclusive interview with EJIKEME OMENAZU, he speaks on issues concerning the region as well as the current travails of High Chief Government, alias Tompolo in the hands of security agents.
What is your view on the Nigeria project?
As far as I am concerned, Nigeria does not have any project any more. Nigeria is dead as a country. Nigeria was falsely and forcefully amalgamated, the Northern region, Lagos and the Southern protectorates were bound by a so-called agreement concocted by the British. Do you know that the law says that no agreement should remain valid after 100 years? Nigeria was amalgamated in 1914 and from 1914 to 2014 is already 100 years. So, except we come in agreement and renew our amalgamation agreement, Nigeria is a dead and buried project.
How can I believe on a dead project, a country where some people are second class citizens, a country where some persons are entreated as slaves, a country where some persons are born to rule, others born to serve? In Nigeria today, some people need Biafra, while others need Niger Delta Republic. These agitations cannot be wished away. So there is need to renegotiate Nigeria’s existence.

Do you agree that the National Conference recommendations would address the challenges facing the nation?
I disagree with them because those recommendations do not mention implementation of Niger Delta Republic or Biafra. Of what impact will such implementations make to our collective aspirations for those of us who believe in Biafra and Niger Delta Republics?

So far, do you see a reflection of true change in this Buhari administration as regards to the Niger Delta development?
What reflection are you talking about? There is no reflection of development of the region so far. Buhari is bent on incapacitating and silencing the voice of Niger Deltans. Haven’t you heard about the cancellation of Niger Delta Maritime University in Okerenkoko, Delta State? Haven’t you been told about the suspension of operation in the only Niger Delta NIMASA School of Technology at Okoloba, Bomadi Local Government Area of Delta State? So, what reflection are you talking about? We don’t anticipate any meaningful transformation of the Niger Delta under Buhari’s administration. This is because he has turned himself to a sectional president. So, we do not expect much from him.

How do you see President Buhari’s leadership style?

Buhari does not have regard for the rule of law. His government flouts court orders. His administration infringes on the independence of the judiciary. Buhari has not really changed much from his days as a military dictator. His anti-corruption crusade is targeted at the opposition and his political enemies.
In view of the cancellation of these schools I mentioned earlier, he has already declared himself as an enemy of Niger Delta region.

Would you agree to the notion that the President Buhari’s anti-graft crusade is targeted at people from Niger Delta or the Ijaw?
Well, I will not agree that it is targeted at the Ijaws. But, I can say that his anti-corruption crusade is targeted at the former President Goodluck Jonathan administration and the Niger Delta region at large. This is based on the attempt to silence and incapacitate all political bigwigs in the region who will contend with APC come 2019 general elections with the aim of ensuring that the North continues to rule. This is of course an invitation to anarchy as it will pose a big threat to the fragile peace in Niger Delta. They want to eliminate Ijaw in Niger Delta as the government is no longer comfortable with their continuous resistance against the oppressive tendencies in the region.

The current government came into power on the mantra of Change. Almost a year into the administration, what type of Change would you say Nigerians need most?
The greatest change Nigerians need is the respect for the rule of law by the Buhari government. There should be constant electricity, massive job creation, urbanisation of the Niger Delta region and equal opportunity for all Nigerians. But for those of us who did not believe in the Nigeria project, the greatest change will be when Biafra, and Niger Delta are granted sovereignties.

As an activist, what is your view on the current travails of High Chief Government Ekpemupolo alias Tompolo in hands of EFCC?
The travails of High Chief Tompolo in the hands of EFCC is unfortunate and it shows the desperation of President Buhari administration to turn Niger Delta to a conquered territory. I see it as a witch-hunt which has something to do with the 2019 political ambition of the North and the fear that the Niger Delta region will join the Biafra agitators in their quest for an independent state.
The plan of the EFCC to try him in absentia is a strange judicial practice, alien to Nigerian constitution and laws. The eagerness of EFCC to try Tompolo is indeed suspicious. The law never said that people should be tried in absentia. The first process to try someone is by arresting a suspect. This is followed by arraignment and reading of charges. Another thing is service, service is sacrosanct and fundamental. How can you try somebody you have not served with court processes? How many heinous criminals have the judicial system tried in absentia. How many notorious bandits are on the run, that Nigeria judiciary has tried in absentia?
Under this situation, what would you advice Tompolo to do?
My advice is that he should remain in hiding pending when President Buhari is ready to respect the rule of law. He is in court with them, but they refused to enter appearance only for the government to go on to initiate another ambitions suit. The EFCC failed to honour the first court invitation. How do you expect him to honour theirs? If at all there is equal right, what offence did Tompolo commit by not attending EFCC’s invitation and its kangaroo court. How do you expect Tompolo to be lawful in a lawless society like Nigeria? Look at the experience s of Sambo Dasuki, Olisa Metuh, Daniel Kanu and others as result of the lawlessness of the present administration. That is why Tompolo has refused to honour their invitations and court summons.

What is your take on the reported cancellation of the Maritime University, Okenrenkoko, in Warri South-West Local Government Area, Delta State?
This is a political script of former Governor Rotimi Amaechi, Michael Jonny, Ayiri Emami, and Timipre Silva, It is sad; we are worried. What do these people take us for? Do they mean that we are not qualified to have a university in our place; after all, we have the economic power of this nation. Is our oil for sale? Why should the government be treating us like slaves? The government’s action is not acceptable. Buhari is now turned to a barber chair by some clueless APC leaders. These are the reasons I don’t believe in Nigeria project. They should reverse the purported cancellation of the university before it makes the people to react negatively about it as the announcement is creating tension in the Niger Delta.