BY DAPO AKINREFON
MR. Manager Seigha is chairman of the Niger Delta Nationalities Forum in Lagos State. In this interview, he spoke on the three days ultimatum issued by the Islamist sect, Boko Haram, to southerners and non-Muslims to leave the North saying that those issuing such threats were out to destabilize the country. He spoke on other national issues including removal of fuel subsidy by the federal government. Excerpts:
What is your take on the three days ultimatum issued by the Islamist sect, Boko Haram that non_Muslims should leave the North?
The threat will not pay anyone. It is not Boko Haram that is speaking. We believe that those who are planning to destabilize Jonathan’s government are the ones issuing such threats. We want the Northern Christians to stand firm and they should not be intimidate by the such threats.
Our group is of the view that they (Boko Haram) will be affected most. We also think they are trying to execute the promise they made to the President because they promised to make the country ungovernable for the president because he won the 2011 presidential elections.
They said, at first, that he should not contest the elections because it was not the turn of the south, they said if he contests, he should not be allowed to win and in the event that he wins, they will not allow him to rule. They believe that he should be removed from office by whatever means. I think that is what they are trying ti implement. The threat has become political which is aimed at over throwing his government. But the president is taking it calmly so as not to over heat the polity.
What steps do you think should be taken to tackle the growing insecurity in the country?
Security should be beefed up across the country. The federal government should also not over heat the polity by attacking the group head on because if the president is not careful, he might play into their hands. Secondly, there is a group in the north that believe that the strength of the north has remained the stabilizing factor in the country. We are not saying that this is the thinking of all northerners but a few. It is now left for the President to look at all the areas and see the best way in addressing this issue.
If they want this country to divide, at whose interest? We are not afraid of the division of Nigeria because it will help us to develop at our own pace. We are ready if they (Boko Haram) want to divide this country.
For instance, those of us who are Ijaws, believe that we are been marginalised, after all, the resources come from our land and we don’t benefit anything. So, if this country divides, as an Ijaw man, it will be good for us because we will be use our resources to grow at our own pace. What the Americans predicted to happen in 2015, may likely happen. But if others believe we should live together, then, the Northern leaders should prevail on those who are perpetrating this evil, because some of them know them.
The strength of what they are doing, still lies with those who support them and if the president does not want this to continue happening, there is a lot he can do. He has declared a state of emergency in some parts of the north, but that is not enough.
Nigerians are angry with the Federal government over the sudden removal of fuel subsidy. What is your group’s position on the removal?
First of all, my group has supported government on the basis that we believe that President Goodluck will not do any that will be against Nigerians. In supporting him, we were also of the strong believe that there is need for him to talk to Nigerians and get Nigerians to understand truly, what will be the benefit of what he is trying to do. He should let Nigerians what the benefits of the removal will be.
We think that it was a good policy. I have also taken time to find out why Dr Jonathan, who told Nigerians that he comes from a poor background and that he will not do anything that is anti_Nigeria, support fuel subsidy removal. Having taken time to find out, we discovered that the Federal government committed itself lot time ago by telling importers to bring fuel at whatever cost and they (FG) was going to pay. Most Nigerians took advantage of the weakness of the Federal government to infiltrate the oil sector. So many people who had no business with oil importation, went into the business.
In some cases, the importers will say they are bringing in, for instance, 500,000 litres of oil, but what they do is that, they will take away 200,000 litres and sell in countries like Togo, Benin and other neighboring countries and later bring in the left overs, yet, the federal government will pay for the initial 500,000 litres. When Nigerians discovered this, all sorts of people infiltrated the market.
But don’t you think the Federal government should have gone after the cabals who indulge in this kind of practice?
We have genuine fuel importers but some people, like politicians who have no business in oil importation, have infiltrated it. What the president has actually done is that, instead of firing those people found culpable of this act, what he deem felt was best for the country is that independent marketers are now allowed to import the product and sell at the market price. But the federal government had initially agreed to pay for the difference.
Some major oil marketers are happy because those who infiltrated the market, will be out of business. But our group’s anger is that Jonathan has not handled the matter well and we are very angry with those who are working with him because they have not advised him well. Removing the subsidy on the 1st of January was a wrong calculation because so many people who had travelled for the festivity, will find it difficult returning to their various destination and that is very bad.
The president’s aides have not fully informed Nigerians on the take off date for the removal of fuel subsidy. We believe it was a bad timing. We expect them to have dialogued with Nigerians. The Ministers for Labour and Information have not done their job well, they have not been able to convince Nigerians as far as the fuel subsidy is concerned.
The right explanation are not given that is why people are very angry. Now, the Labour Minister is saying that arrangements has been made to bring in transport vehicles. Why didn’t they bring these vehicles two months prior the removal of the subsidy and flood major cities in the country with them so that Nigerians would know that subsidy has been removed. People are not advising our president well.