Comrade Joseph Evah is Coordinator, Ijaw Monitoring Group (IMG). The former Publicity Secretary of Ijaw National Congress (INC) in this interview pushes for the relocation of the seat of Power to the Niger Delta, among other issues.
You once asked the seat of power to be relocated to Port-Harcourt or Yenagoa because of the safety of Mr. President. Are you still on the matter?
Oh yes, I want the President to relocate the seat of power from Abuja to Port-Harcourt or Yenagoa for safety reasons. What I’m demanding for is not new in Nigeria. General Babangida did it after the Orkar April 22, 1990 coup. The family of Babangida was exposed to danger and so Babangida decided to move the administration of Nigeria to Abuja closer to his home of Niger State. Right now, the Jonathan family is under threat like 1990 Orkar coup.
So, I want another round of movement for the seat of power. So, if anybody wins election in 2015, the new president will also move the seat of power again to his own state or his own village for safety reasons. That is part of democracy. The type of bomb blasts taking place there is strange in Nigeria. It is clear danger signal to the first family. The type of bomb blasts is even worse than Okar Coup. Moving the seat of power anytime there is threat to the first family is necessary because Nigeria is operating federalism.
Did you have enough commodation in Port Harcourt or Yenagoa to accommodate the presidential villa in Abuja for such movement?
We have to manage the situation. In Port Harcourt, Rotimi Amaechi has to move to either the Rivers State Secretariat Building or the old GRA and adjust himself so that Jonathan can move to the present government house with his wife and aides and ministers. Amaechi has to make that sacrifice for the sake of our region and if we are using Yenagoa, we have to direct Governor Timipre Sylva to relocate his office to NDDC office along Mbiama-Yenagoa road or Sylva will move his office to the state secretariat building or use the Melfold Okilo Memorial Hospital building as temporary office.
Part of that unused hospital building can help us have emergency office for Sylva,. My brother, the situation in the country now is tense and like the Ijaw Youth Council slogan “any means necessary”we have, use any means necessary to save the first family the way Babangida relocated in 1990.
The mammoth crowd for your programme “Niger Delta marks Goodluck Jonathan 100 days in office with Aso Rock Deliverance Service”. How did you mobilize such a crowd?
I have the structures in every Niger delta state, including Lagos and it cuts across all ethnic groups, including elderly men and women as well as the physically challenged persons and widows. Apart from that, our people are eager to see the president succeed so that our children will be proud of this generation that produced the first Niger delta president. I also have the structure in every higher institution in the country.
How do you manage these structures?
To manage these structures is very difficult because many of our people in positions see their positions as personal empowerment. You can see the crowd of people visiting this office everyday seeking for assistance, especially financial assistance. It is very difficult to meet up and we have sent money to our students in various higher institutions that want to mark either Ijaw cultural day or Niger delta students’ week.
It is the price we have to pay to catch-up with the Yorubas where leadership training starts from the school. As we speak, I have received request from over 100 communities across our region to extend my yearly deworming programme for children where I mobilize over 2,000 students every December to carryout the exercise in the creeks.
As we approach December, all our students are warming up for this special community service for mankind in our region. It is to save children from untimely death as a result of cholera, chicken pox, river blindness, fever, polio and other deadly diseases caused by pollution.
What is the relationship between the Aso Rock Deliverance Service and the thousands of empowerment tools you presented to the people?
Our people want to work with their hands to feed themselves. We are not lazy people. It was the federal government and the oil companies that make us look like lazy people by making us idle after they used oil exploration activities to destroy our natural resources like fishing, farming, palm wine tapping, rubber farms just to make money to feed Nigeria, while we remain hungry. So when Almighty God blessed me, I use the opportunity to bless others. It is my way of life and I can use any occasion to put smile on the face of our people and God has been using people to bless me.
Some people are saying that you are supposed to be appointed into Jonathan’s government because of your struggles.
It is not proper for all activists to be holding political positions. Today almost all our activists are holding political positions and that is wrong but many them were forced by survival of the fittest because those who got into office by the activities of our activists deliberately treat them as fools. But Yorubas don’t threat their activists like that because the Yorubas are exposed and advanced. The Yorubas know the value of activists in making them the most advanced tribe in the whole of Africa. If you look back to our struggle from the time of Late Isaac Boro to the struggle for the creation of three states for the Ijaw- but Abacha gave us one state- and the formation of Ijaw National Congress and those leaders who also mobilized funds and mobilized our people to form the Ijaw Youth Council and other activities, it is only those who managed to hold political office that are surviving. Even the politicians treat those who are not holding political office as beggars. Our politicians behave in such a way because of the background they are coming from which is poverty behind their mentality. They see themselves as gods and that want to survive alone. So every activist runs into political office because of the attitude of the people in power. Apart from Asari Dokubo, I don’t think there is still anybody who took part in the Kiama declaration that is outside government today.
It is very sad. The funny aspect is that even activists who enter government start behaving like politicians because of the background of poverty. Displaying empty arroganc and other funny mentality. We have over 50 activists in government now, both federal and state levels, but not more than five persons still relate with their fellow activists. Other see their appointments as winners of lottery. The truth is that I enjoy what am doing: visiting campuses, addressing students, women, disable persons, visiting the sick, prisoners, touring communities in the creeks and helping people to help themselves as an activist.
Why does Ijaw Monitoring Group go beyond Ijaw matters?
My struggle is Niger Delta struggle but my root is Ijaw. Isaac Boro struggle and that of Ken Saro-Wiwa all for the Niger Delta region. I was the first to establish the Niger Delta hall of fame with over five hundred photographs of world class citizens from Niger Delta. Journalist and researchers all over the world are coming to my complex to study Niger delta personalities in different field human endeavors.
My focus is Ijaw nation and Niger Delta the two are Interwoven. I have the faith that God will continue to give me the resources to invest in our people. To empower them and make them happy. That is why I can mobilise over 10000 people within 75 hours.
What is the motive behind the service?
We want God to arrest every power and principalities that manipulate every Nigerian president or head of state since 1960 to leave Jonathan alone so that he can make history as the best thing that has happened to Nigeria and Niger Delta. We want to wipe away the demons that are in the seat of power making the leaders before Jonathan derail.
We have to fight them. Did you know that before we got this presidency from God and Nigerians we wasted a lot blood during the struggle? So we must not fail because after Jonathan’s presidency, the people of Niger delta has no moral right to complain that Nigeria is marginalizing us.
Many people are asking the president to remove the Security Adviser General Azazi for incompetence. What is your opinion?
Let me tell you the truth, those calling for Azazi’s removal are sponsored by people who want the situation to get worse. I also know that people who want that office (NSA) are sponsoring some of the violent attacks so that they will get the appointment from the back door. We should commend Azazi and his team for their effort so far; because when a particular Mafia group uses religion and the highest level of terror attack against a nation where such crime is strange, you need men of extra courage to accept such appointment like the situation Azazi is handling now. The president must not fall into the trap of blackmails to replace Azazi. They will turn to the National Assembly and sponsor legislators to move a motion to impeach the president.
Some people are saying that one particular General who resigned to contest against the president is only person that can handle the situation. That is rubbish; if the general is not alive, does it mean Nigeria will burn to ashes? Was the general not alive when the previous terror attacks took place in Jos and other areas? Was the General not in service when Major Orkar boys nearly smoked Babangida out?
How does the president want to tackle Niger delta development
We are all waiting for Mr. President to give us the green light. Let me tell you, everything about Niger Delta Development Commission (NDDC), Ministry of Niger delta and Bayelsa State is in the hand of Goodluck Jonathan. We are all watching and we have made our prayer points during our deliverance service.
Even Nigerians know that it is only Goodluck that can decide to whatever he want to do with these three issues, NDDC, ministry of Niger delta. Whatever happens to these three things Nigerians and the world should hold Jonathan responsible.
If good comes out of them, Jonathan is responsible. If bad or disgrace comes out of them, Jonathan is responsible because he has the power to make these three things become blessing to our people. These thing are in the pocket of Jonathan. Let him do whatever he likes, history will judge him, in Jesus Name Amen.