BY LEKE ADESERI
The victory of President Goodluck Jonathan in the recent Presidential poll has continued to elicit commendations across the country and abroad, including creeks of the Niger Delta. The leadership of Izon Ibeh Oil Producing Communities Forum also joined in the songs of joy. Chief Favour Izuokumor, president of the forum in this interview speaks on Jonathan’s victory, issues bordering the Niger Delta people and game plan of some oil companies operating in the oil rich region. Excerpts:
On Jonathan’s election
The victory is not a personal, regional, Niger Delta or Ijaw one but a victory for all Nigerians, who are positioning the country for a more equitable and transparent position. The whole geopolitical zones in Nigeria accept the victory as the international communities are not left out. The victory shows clearly that there is hope for this country.
On why Jonathan won
The acceptability of Jonathan is a testimony that Nigerians are tired of being led by the nose and would pull their forces and resources together to achieve progress and development for Nigeria. And Jonathan also has a good antecedent that is worth emulating, so when Nigerians across the ethnic nationalities found out his good qualities, they did not hesitate to give him their mandate. Jonathan is not an ethnic bigot, he is humble, has the fear of God and these are the qualities that he use effortlessly to uplift Nigeria.
On post election violence that almost dampened the victory
It is totally condemned by all well meaning Nigerians. Democracy is not about violence, self imposition, it is a free will that majority has to accept you through the ballot boxes and Nigerians have made their choice is the Jonathan’s presidency. It is therefore uncivilized for some people to take the laws into their hands and go on rampage.
Concern over the youths used as tools
I think the youths especially in the North need a lot of enlightenment. Yes, the elite in the North have the awareness which they expressed in the recent presidential election. The elite has expressed that a new dawn has come to Nigeria and that the time of using ethnicity, religion to determine who to be who has passed. They need to encouraged and commended.
Another angle to the crisis is that probably, those who are contesting the governorship and the states legislatures are trying to manipulate the process by inducing violence so that other parties apart from their own parties would carry the day. Their agenda is to intimidate the formidable parties in that region to give the CPC an edge over other parties. So, that in the day of election, people will not come out and vote.
On Asari Dokubo, a Niger Deltan’s position on constitutional conference.
I think Jonathan’s presidency should not be regionalized. Given the show of love by the whole country, he would have to demonstrate his capacity as a true Nigerian who would act in contradiction with the hope and aspiration of other Nigerians. With due respect to Asari Dokubo and other emerging leaders who have sacrificed a lot for the country, I have great respect and honour to them.
They have canvassed a level playing ground for all. But in my own theoretical and pragmatic political experience, the agitation for Sovereign National Conference is due to the failures of the past leaders who were made to practice true federalism. And Jonathan has continued good leadership through highly successful election. Even to think that he was about to vote in his town when the first Presidential election was postponed by the INEC. All these combined to show that he would do well.
People therefore talk about national conference because past leaders did not respect the tenets of democracy. And when Jonathan operates the constitution faithfully and respect the much abused federal constituency whole heartedly, the clamour for the national conference would wane.
Jonathan’s presidency and the Amnesty programme
As a number two citizen then, he was part and parcel of the amnesty draft. It is easier for you as the implementor of a dream than for others who did not dream the dream. His emergence would fast track the amnesty package.
As re-elected President of Izon Ibeh Oil Producing Forum, what endeared you to the communities
I think it’s a token of appreciation by my people that I have done well and more than the past leaders of the forum. The forum supported the state and federal governments to engage in a pragmatic peace process to enable peace to return to Niger Delta especially the oil producing communities.
We have also initiated laudable programmes for the youths like the award of scholarship, skill acquisition and other developmental programmes.