There are corruption allegations leveled against some administrators of NDDC, involving the present acting MD, immediate past acting MD, the Minister of Niger Delta Affairs and even members of the National Assembly, what’s your take?
The NDDC was created to fail from its inception. I was in the fore-front for the demand for a fair share of the resources of the Niger Delta by their own people. We held series of meetings before the NDDC came to light, we held series of meetings with Gen. Olusegun Obasanjo, the first meeting was on the 12th of June 1999 where all the Service Chiefs and ministers from the Niger Delta were there and we discussed about setting up a special commission for the development of the Niger Delta to replace OMPADEC. Obasanjo went to Abuja and changed the idea of NDDC back to what OMPADEC was, so they would have just left the name as OMPADEC – Oil Producing Area Development Commission – instead of changing it to NDDC, Niger Delta Development Commission.
They included states which ordinarily were not Niger Delta states, these states are as follows: Cross Rivers, Akwa Ibom, Imo, Abia , Edo and Ondo by the definition of Niger Delta, those are not Delta states. The Niger Delta states are just Delta, Bayelsa and Rivers. Now, because the issue of neglect of the Niger Delta has been a re-occurring decimal in the political history of Nigeria, before Nigerian independence, the people of the Niger Delta led by the chiefs and people of the region, went to London in 1923, to present the case of the people of the area. After that, the Niger Delta congress was set up to fight for the right of the Niger Delta people, at that time oil was not an issue, it was not in the picture, so oil was something that came later, it was supposed to be a blessing, it was supposed to ease our burden, but it did not, oil now contributed to our burden and our suffering.
So, the Niger Delta congress came into being and insisted that before Nigeria should be considered for independence, first the issue of the Niger Delta should be addressed, the authorities in London decided to set up the Willink Commission to look into the fears of the minorities of the Niger Delta area. They now set up the Niger Delta Development Authority. After the military coup and Nigeria moved from a federation to unitary state, when the Northerners took power, they totally destroyed the Niger Delta Development Authority and changed it to River Basin and created River Basin for gutter, for drainages in the North; this one River Basin, that one River Basin and destroyed the essence for which the Niger Delta Development Authority was set up. The agitation continued with the Ogonis and the Ijaws always. They set-up OMPADEC. First, with 1.5 derivation under Shagari. Okilo, Ambrose Ali and Clement Isong were in the forefront for the demand that a special fund accruing from oil be moved to OMPADEC for the people of oil producing areas. So, in 1998, after the Ogoni struggle and the killing of Ken Saro Wiwa, the Ijaw struggle started, through the formation of the Ijaw Youth Council (IYC) which led to the Kiama Declaration and the Ijaw Youth Council agitation started leading to a mild arms struggle.
Mild, do you call that mild, people got shot and people died and you called that mild?
Yes, we called it mild, in Ijaw territories, there were clashes between the military and the people, the military were shooting, but the people had no guns, metaphysical means were used, the use of Egbesu was employed by the Ijaw people who believe in the efficacy and the protection of its spiritual essence. A lot of people believe that with Egbesu, when they were shot upon that they will not die and they didn’t die. So, groups began to emerge, like the Egbesu Boys of Africa, Niger Delta Freedom Fighters, Enough is Enough and many other organizations came up under the IYC as people were calling for arms struggle. This agitation, after the election of General Olusengun Obasanjo led to the setting up of NDDC. So, since the NDDC came into being from the beginning they programmed the NDDC to fail. The NDDC became a mini-Nigeria, there were representatives from all the zones of Nigeria, from Northeast, North-central, Northwest, they are not producing oil, but they are all in NDDC. That was how they set up NDDC with representatives from everywhere to come and partake in the jollification in NDDC so that they will eat. So, from the beginning NDDC was programmed to fail, it was not programmed to succeed. However, Obasanjo was better in managing NDDC, under his regime, the NDDC made some significant surface scratching in the Niger Delta, under Yar’Adua, he tried to do something, he too tried, so the significant surface scratching continued till under Goodluck. But immediately Buhari came, he started his programme to destroy NDDC, Buhari has a hatred, a deep seated hatred, the most evil hatred for Niger Delta, no president of Nigeria ever hated Niger Delta like Buhari. Buhari hates Niger Delta with a passion and that was why when he became president, he went to Addis Ababa. When he went to Addis Ababa he said he was going to give us Niger Delta people the Boko Haram treatment, he said it openly in Addis Ababa, that he will give us the Niger Delta people the Boko Haram treatment and when he came back the Niger Delta Avenger started and he could not give us that treatment because we were stronger than that.
What does he mean by the Boko Haram treatment?
The way Boko Haram are shooting, fighting and killing that was what he said he will give to us, to declare war on our people and he said it openly. When he came back, Niger Delta Avenger started and he could not give us that treatment because we are stronger than that. Since he came, he has only set up a proper board once headed by Abia Bassey. What did he do, he put in Seminitari as sole administrator, they chop, chop, chop and they left. After Seminitari, they brought the full board, the full board left, he brought Joi, people from oil-producing states in his APC, they were appointed and screened by the Senate and confirmed even when they did not meet the legal requirement because Bayelsa was supposed to produce the MD, but there was a connivance in the Senate and they took the MD to Delta and they gave it to an Urhobo man. People protested because it was Bayelsa that was supposed to produce the MD, they still went on to appoint Joi. When Joi was appointed although I know Joi personally, but l protested and gave an interview that it was wrong. The law that established NDDC does not have anything in it that recognized Ministry of Niger Delta, so why will the Niger Delta Ministry preside over NDDC. NDDC was in the presidency, but what Buhari wanted because of his hatred for Niger Delta is to make sure that nothing happens in the NDDC. He has gone to set up North East Development Commission. Why should there be North East Development Commission? Are they producing anything, he takes our money to go and fund North East Development Commission. What he wants is to kill the NDDC, to kill the Amnesty programme, all these show the deep-seated hatred he has for the Niger Delta people.
You once said that the amnesty was a bribe, so that the oil will flow. Do you still think so?
Yes, it was a bribe so that oil will flow, that was why big names, big militant names began to emerge, they were given money, many of them became multi-billionaires, every month some people were getting N600 million. So, those of us who did not take amnesty are looking for money to survive. Because of the large sum of money involved in the so-called amnesty, everybody now wants to be a militant even some people that were abusing Ijaw people for being militants now want to be part of the amnesty like I have been telling you, some people make N600 million a month.
Up there in the North, we have the Boko Haram, we hear about the Fulani herdsmen, they are also killing people, now we are hearing about the bandits, what are the difference amongst them?
There is no difference, they are the same set of people, there is a grand plan to overwhelm our people, to overrun our people, to submerge us, to take from us everything, our land, our resources and everything. So, these people are everywhere, they are just waiting for the signal to strike, they are just waiting for signals to kill our people. This is not a religious war, it is the war of dominance of the Futa Jallons and their Hausa and Nupe collaborators in the North that they have recruited to overrun our land. I mean everywhere, the Middle Belt, Northern Christian areas, Southern Muslims areas, Southern Christian areas. That is what they are going to do, nobody is safe, if you like your name can be Mujahid, your name can be Mohammed, your name can be Ogushade, your name can be Shande, your name can be Chukwu, it is none of their business, they are coming to overrun and they are everywhere. The one they are doing in the North is just rehearsal, the main battle ground is here – the South. The one in the North is just rehearsal, they are testing their weapons and their powers. The main battle ground is here and our governors are spending money thinking that nothing will happen. Like your Christian book says: “He is led to the slaughter, he openeth not his mouth,” that is how we are going, our leaders are there, we are being led to the slaughter and we openeth not our mouth.
What do you think will be the solution to all of these?
The solution to all of these things is for all of us to go our separate ways, for us, it’s Biafra.
For everyone to go their separate ways?
Yes, for me, my family, my people and the people of the former Eastern region, it is Biafra.
That’s the answer?