By Emma Amaize
FORMER national chairman of the Traditional Rulers of Oil Mineral Producing Communities of Nigeria (TROMPCON) and Pere of Seimbiri kingdom in Delta State , His Royal Majesty (HRM) Charles Ayemi_Botu is incensed by suggestion and warning by some Northerners that President Goodluck Jonathan should not contest the 2011 Presidential Election.
He believes it is Almighty God Himself that intervened in the affairs of Nigeria by paving way for an Ijaw man from the South_South geo_political zone to become Nigeria â€™s President, saying that itâ€™s the turn of Ijaw, being the fourth largest ethnic nationality in the country to rule Nigeria . The royal father spoke in an interview with Saturday Vanguard in Warri.
For the first time in the history of this country, an indigene of the South_South is the President of Nigeria how does this make you feel?
I feel that I am now becoming a part of the country and it is divine intervention. God in His infinite mercy has decided to that the goose that lays the golden egg should be given the opportunity to manage that egg after 50 years of keeping the country going through the black gold.
After 50 years of being the economic hub of the country and the unifying factor of Nigeria , He has decided that the passenger should drive the vehicle. You know that the North and South_West have been the people ruling the country with the North having a greater share for over 38 years and the South-Westâ€“12 years, so God decided that the area that has been greatly marginalized because of its peculiar terrain and which has provided the means of keeping the country together without being partakers, should also partake because oil is a diminishing asset.
I know deep in my heart that Godâ€™s declaration is that a son of the soil should go and manage the oil with a view to ameliorating the sufferings of the age-long and criminally marginalized people of the Niger-delta region.
So, you are fulfilled now that somebody from South_South is President?
No, it not yet Uhuru because the North and South-West have ruled for many years and our son is going in now just because of the demise of Yarâ€™Adua. Taking the numerous years of neglect, he has no magic wand to transform the Niger_delta, talk of the country within so short a period, hence it is necessary and I believe a wise counselling, that come 2011, he should be given another four years to rule this country so that the South_South should have a taste of rulership of this country?
He is supposed to complete the tenure of the late President Umaru Yarâ€™Adua and get out of the scene, not to run for 2011, donâ€™t you think so?
That is why I am saying that Jonathan becoming President is a divine intervention. Yarâ€™Aduaâ€™s death is a call of the Almighty, we cannot challenge God, since Yarâ€™Adua and Jonathan were in a joint ticket to run for the Presidency in 2007 and won;Â and if Yarâ€™Adua was to run in 2011, Jonathan would still have followed himÂ and history is abound in American and United Kingdom of PresidentsÂ after completing two terms, it is the Vice President that takes over, God has settled the case in favour of Jonathan.
Take Magrateh Tatcher, John Major, Tony Blair and now Gordon Brown in Britain and in America,Â takeÂ the case of Clinton, Al-Gore who did not make it to presidency, as Bush emerged victorious, it is very clear. And even if Yarâ€™Adua had lasted till 2015, Jonathan would have been the flag bearer in continuation o f the North_South arrangement in the PDP.
He is only continuing the Yarâ€™Adua tenure; his going for a second term is to complete the tenure. The north should in order not to rock the boat or the polity allow Jonathan to run in 2011. Obasanjo took over from Murtala, carried on the agenda of their administration from 1976 to 1979 before he handed over.
Let the young ones like Jonathan try. He is doing well so far. He is tackling the major socio_economic problems now, electoral reforms of one man, one vote. We want him to implement the Justice Uwais Electoral reform report, tackle power generation once and for all and most importantly, as a Niger_Deltan, he knows where it pinches, he should tackle the restiveness and militancy in the region because of the deprivations and denial.
He should ensure that the 10 per cent allocation approved by Yarâ€™Adua should be paid direct to the actual oil_bearing communities, and not the state governments that will definitely mismanage and siphon to their areas of interest. The Niger_Delta Ministry should be provided for adequately and areas spelt out, as well as NDDC. Over N360 billion kept in the doldrums should be released and also the N41 billion not released from the asset of the defunct OMPADEC, which NDDC ought to have inherited, they should find out where the money was kept.
Rehabilitation of the freedom fighters should be a must task because posterity will not forgive him if he does not handle it, it can disintegrate this country if not properly handled.
What are the royal fathers and leaders of the South_South doing concerning President Goodluck Jonathan contesting next yearâ€™s presidential election?
Before he was holding brief and within the short period, he has made forays, we are going to support him. He is hammering on one man, one vote; we are going to reach out to other sections of the country. If we want to remain one in this country, we should not disallow other zones from ruling the country, now that God has made him President, we want other regions to join hands to continue the mandate of the joint ticket between him and Yarâ€™Adua to Nigerians.
Former President Olusegun Obasanjo had said there is no zoning of presidency in the PDP, which means Jonathan is free to contest, do you see the South breaching an agreement with the North by such an action?
No, I donâ€™t see any breach; we are not talking about party affiliation and loyalty. PDP as a party is not bigger than a country. Whatever we are doing today, political arrangement can be overtaken by divine intervention. We propose as man but God disposes.
That agreement is even a gentleman agreement; God has waded into it and overruled it. If you say North and South, we have six geo-political zones and out of three in the South, only Southwest has ruled for 12 years, the South-South has not ruled as well as Southeast.
For the purpose of fairness, equity, justice and fair play, we should like Abacha said that June 12 is a watershed, throw away the political arrangement, whatever you have arranged, the minorities are being short-changed. Any attempt to disrupt it, they are dancing to the suggestion of Ghadaffi who is calling for disintegration of the country.
IBB is ready to contest in 2011, do you have any objection?
IBB can no longer rule this country; he should no longer waste his time and money. His antecedents and records do not give any positive rays of him ruling this country. I am wondering if he has advisers knowing all that happened during his eight years rule, he should be thankful to God for leaving a free man. In Benin when he was coming for his late wifeâ€™s immortalization, he could see the volume of reactions to his saying that he was going to contest.
It is shameful to recall what happened during his tenure and he did not leave the office in good fate. The June 12 saga _ he said he stepped aside, is he now stepping in again, if somebody stepped aside, is he stepping in again, if he is allowed to come in under the platform of PDP, will he be ready to leave after four years, will he be ready to step aside, that North has now ruled another four years.
We donâ€™t want sit_ tight president; it is good to throw in the towel. My candid advice is that he should not waste his time and money in campaigning to rule; he should play the role of an elder statesman. It is not even favourable for him to go for the hustle and bustle of leadership.
You have been silent on the recent EFCC/Ibori saga, sparked off by the Delta Elders, Leaders and Stakeholders Forum, led by Chief Edwin Clark, how do you see the entire episode and whatâ€™s your royal advice?
It is a very sad commentary for us as a people in Delta state to wash our dirty linens in the public. It is indeed shameful and we make a mockery of ourselves. Even up to traditional rulers who are either very apolitical, let us call a spade a spade, if you are a politician and in the cause of your period of governance and administration, you are found wanting, you should be able to come out and defend yourselves.
Why this entire hullabaloo, why all these wrangling, why heating up the polity, after all, 172 charges were levelled against Ibori and he came out unscathed. That is something that ran into over N9 billion talk lessÂ of 23 million shares and we want to turn the whole state upside down. And we want to enrich the newspaper houses, advertorials every day; it is a disgrace, unfortunate. How many of the ex governors declared wanted by the EFCC is working free on the streets of this country today.
Why must we go to press war, we now have to turn Delta state upside down. My appeal to the Delta elders as well as Ibori, supporters and loyalists is that they should discontinue all these rabble rousing that have shown us as total nuisance and allow the law to take its course. He should realize that every allegation and every suspect should be innocent until he is proved by a court of competent jurisprudence. The numbers of people that signed the EFCC petition are many, why should Clark be handpicked; it was signed by leaders from all the ethnic groups in the state.
Why are they tribalizing itÂ Â and dragging Jonathan into it. Are they calling a dog a bad name in order to hang it? Clark is partly Ijaw and Urhobo.