By Simon Ebegbulem, Benin city
Senator Francis Spanner Okpozo, is one of the respected leaders in the South South. He is rooting for President Goodluck Jonathan in next year’s election.
In this interview with Saturday Vanguard, the Isoko born elder statesman takes a swipe at what he calls the campaigned of calumny embarked upon by Mallam Adamu Ciroma and Alhaji Tanko Yakassai, against the presidential aspiration of Dr Goodluck Jonathan.
He describes their utterances as capable of destabilising the nation and asserted that they should be charged for treason.
The 2011 elections are approaching. Are you satisfied with the way things are going ahead of the polls?
A lot of comments have been made by eminent citizens in this country to derogate the integrity of Mr President and the important ones are those coming from Mallam Ciroma, who was once a Minister in this country. His utterances have become reprehensible.
He should remember that he has served this country for a long time and being an elder statesman he should not stand in a position to cause what we call a situation of disintegration of this country.
He himself may belong to a political party and he may champion the cause of that political party, but where he is going to dabble into the affairs of other states in the North that are not members of the PDP, organizing governors and individuals in those states to run down Mr President, to create problem between the North and the South, is regarded as intolerable.
It is a situation that can disintegrate this country. Ciroma should remember that all funds arising from the oil producing states of Nigeria have been used maximally to develop the North. Today, for over 50 years oil has been the only means of our economy in this country.
And it is where President Jonathan comes from that is the major oil producing community, Delta and Bayelsa states. When they talk about oil production, all those who ruled this nation undemocratically as President came from the North, excerpt Sir Tafawa Belawa, Shagari and Yar’Adua. All of them are from the North.
Before you talk of military Presidents in this country, you talk of Abacha, Buhari, Babangida, He should not forget that the cause of militancy in the Niger Delta is as a result of marginalization and this oppression came from the North. People from the South are not animals, they are not fools that any body can cheat.
I want to remind them of what they do not know. One, power stabilization in this country. Despite all the funds invested into that sector, electricity was epileptic. But since Jonathan came in, we have seen the serious measures he has taken that is stabilizing electricity in this country.
Secondly, in the time of the previous governments, where people moving freely? There was fuel scarcity all over the country but since this man came as President, are we experiencing queues any more? No. This is an outstanding achievement.
And today petrol dealers, gas dealers beg you to come and buy their products. Because of Ciroma’s selfish position and ambition, he wants to deny Nigerians all these benefits and take us back to the evil days.
Thirdly, if you talk about fighting corruption, since Jonathan came as President, many people have been jailed and a lot have coughed out their ill gotten wealth, while some have fled so as to avoid arrest. Jonathan has made EFCC more independent than before and they are working not only in Nigeria but abroad.
What has become of the meetings between leaders of the South South and the North?
A lot of us have been holding meetings with the North but it is only a few that are not listening.
I have mention Adamu Ciroma, I have mentioned Tanko Yakasai. But when you look at these people, which political party are they? Are they fighting for the interest of the party or for the interest of the North.
The recent move by Ciroma was to call the governors of the North not to give support to Jonathan. But are all the governors of the North PDP members. You can only campaign for your political party. So why is he saying they should not support Jonathan?.
He wants to cause confusion that will divide the country so to that extent Ciroma is not sincere. He would have used the PDP governors to say alright don’t vote for Jonathan he is not our own, but when he is linking it with the entire North that is bad because he wants the North to rule forever, he does not want the South.
But they are angry because they claimed the PDP had earlier ceded the Presidency to the North?
If there is zoning it is a PDP affair. And if there was zoning, was Yar’Adua not the President then and Jonathan his Deputy. And when nature decided that Yar’Adua should go, is the eight years complete now?
Who should now stand since the President is not there, it is Jonathan who is the Vice President. And the truth is that zoning has never been observed by the North because when Obasanjo contested, Rimi, Gusau all contested with Obasanjo. None of them observed zoning then.
So the zoning died in the time of Obasanjo’s election and it is dead forever. Ciroma and Tanko Yakassai have not changed their ways of succession and even the time of Abiola, they played this kind of game. What they are doing now is the resurrection of the ambition they nursed during the time of Abiola that they are now extending to Jonathan and they should stop it.
Advice for Jonathan
I have to advise that all Nigerians because of these good deeds he has done, except those who are desperately looking for power in the North, who want to divide this country, which we will resist at all cost, all Nigerians love him.
And he should not allow the few action of a few to dampen his enthusiasm to rebuild this nation. He should stand firmly and be fair to all. But as a leader, I want to advise Jonathan that the love Nigerians have for him is not because of the Governors in the states.
Nigerians only love him because of his good work. Nigerians love him because he is humble, gentle and tolerant. So I am advising him and his wife, if possible stop the visit of states until after the elections. Governors cannot make him President but Nigerians.
Most of these governors are corrupt and he will be indicting himself by praising these Governors who have not done any thing for their people. It is wrong for him to go to these states to tell the governors that they have been adopted.
If he does not stop these visits, he will lose the support of majority of Nigerians who are with him. But if he wants to rely on the governors, then let him go for elections he will see the result. The recent action by the National Assembly to throw away the electoral bill is one point he should look at.
He should avoid touring the states now, I don’t know what he is going to gain from these governors who are going tomorrow. They cannot give him support to win any election in any of the states, he should be wary of that fact.