By Dapo Akinrefon
MAJOR-GENERAL Philip Onyekweli (rtd), an Ndokwa leader, in this interview, argues that the agitation for power shift to Delta North in 2015 is justifiable. He also speaks on the ultimatum given by the Northern Elders Forum to President Goodluck Jonathan to ensure the release of the abducted Chibok girls or forget 2015 among other issues. Excerpts:
With the National Conference over, what is your take on the resolutions taken at the conference? Would you say it ended on a good note?
Certainly. I personally believe it ended on a good note given the hard combative positions of various groups and individuals that tended to polarise the conference into North /South boxing match. Luckily the conferees put the nation above little interest groups to the admiration of Nigerians. From events it would appear Jonathan transformation agenda is on course on this and I will say well done.
But do you think the president has the political will to implement to resolutions taken at the conference because we have had previous conference where implementation becomes a problem?
Mr President has exhibited good enough political will in the first instance by creating enabling platform for Nigerians of diverse interest to dialogue on contentious issues. His position now is to one pass the recommendations to legislate by amending the 1999 Constitution to provide for referendum , which most Nigerians will prefer (We the people) or include the recommendations in the on going amendments .Whichever way Nigerians want a change to issues that are making governance purposeful. We all want Nigeria to move on to greater height in unison.
The level of insecurity in the country is getting worrisome especially with the failure of the Federal government to ensure the release of the abducted Chibok girls. What is your take on this?
Yes the Chibok Girls return which has lingered for long is of great concern to all. They are Nigerians and our children. Approach to this serious issue most be carefully considered for the lives of the girls. While I agree that people should not forget the girls, it is pertinent that various security considerations ate weighed. They will be released but not at the danger of their lives.
Still on the Chibok girls, the Northern Elders Forum has given President Goodluck Jonathan till end of October to secure the release of the girls or forget about 2015? How do you see this threat?
The so called Northern Elders Forum have some people I respect. I doubt if they are speaking for the people of the North. They do not have anyone’s mandate. They contributed to the woes of their region and are still doing so. They must find solution to contentious issues in their area and join effort with the rest of Nigerians to find lasting solutions for the uplift meet of their teaming young ones. Majority of our people in the North do not support their stand. They support the government and will support the constitutional position for presidential election. Jonathan is eminently qualified to seek for second term .If wants to contest he will coast home on the vote of all including the North.
How do you see the controversy over power shift heating up Delta state?
No political heat is being generated .What is going on is expected for the struggle and gain attention. Power shift is for equity, justice, fair play and unity. All sections of the polity know this and support it.
But many are of the view that the governor is not disposed to the idea of power shift. Do you think so?
Our amiable governor is a beneficiary of power shift and is the No 1 leader in the shift agenda because it is the actualisation of Delta Agenda which includes Delta without oil .We support his efforts.
Some people are of the view that the Ndokwa agitation for power shift is against the interest of Delta North. Is this true?
How can Ndokwa Agenda be against the interest of Delta North? We belong in the Senatorial District and indeed most positioned, advantageously to get the nod to seek for the post of the Delta State Governor. We have capable sons and daughters to contest for the plum position. Comparatively, we are peaceful people and endowed enough to provide leadership that is most acceptable for con census and move Delta forward in support of what governor Uduaghan is doing.
Having said this, is the Ndokwa nation backing any particular individual for governorship race?
Because various aspirants, from other senatorial zones, have thrown their hats into the ring, it will be in appropriate to start early backing one can did ate. All sections in Delta North are doing same .We are wildly consulting. Anything short will be construed as imposition. We are confident that Delta North will produce the candidate and Ndokwa is best qualified and acceptable to do so.