Chief Vincent Amadi is the Charman Board of Trustees, BoT, People’s Democratic Party, South-South Forum in Lagos State. In this interview, he gives reasons for the re-emergence of militancy in the Niger Delta region, among other national issues. Excerpts.
BY DOTUN IBIWOYE
As a leader from the South-South where President Jonathan comes from, what are you doing to nip in the bud, the re-emergence of restiveness in the Niger-Delta?
There was amnesty programme initiated by late President Umar Yar’Adua which was implemented by Jonathan and that has brought peace to the area. You know when one of the leaders of militant groups, Tompolo, was given a security surveillance contract by the federal government, some of the militants were not happy, and I want to let you know that the people who have carried arms again are those that want to be recognized. They are not known faces of militants. So in essence, those people are seeking attention and I am sure they would be easily handled.
You are an Ikwerre man from Rivers State, there is mis-understanding between Celestine Omehia and Amaechi and recently with President Jonathan, what do you think is responsible for the feud?
What we are talking here is power. They are not sharing farm land or woman friend. Any friend in power is a friend lost. You are sitting down here now, I know if you are opportuned to be in power, if I call your number, you may not answer me as you used to.
This is what power does. The two of them had met in the church when they came for a Thanks-Giving in Port Harcourt. If not for power, I don’t think there is a serious problem between two of them. On issues with President Jonathan, I don’t think there have been crisis between two of them. What perhaps is going between them is political misunderstanding.
Jonathan I must say is a Rivers man. He married from Rivers State, he is our son. Amaechi on other hand is an Ikwerre man from Rivers State who knows how to respect an elder. They are brothers. If there have been quarrel between the two of them, the chiefs in Bayelsa and Rivers State would have come to reconcile them. What exists between the two of them at the moment can best be described as political misunderstanding.
Amaechi may say I am thinking in this direction and the president may say no, think in the other direction. Moreover, in a larger party like PDP such things are common. But one thing is sure, whatever misunderstanding that exists, it would be resolved amicably.
Inspite of the negative things people are saying about Amaechi, he has done a lot for Rivers State. I must tell you as a true son of Rivers State that I have not seen any governor among those who ruled Rivers State even in the military era that has done what Amaechi has done in Rivers State. Amaechi is an achiever by all standards.
Do you think Jonathan should run for a second term in office?
What did the constitution say? The constitution permits him to run for a second term in office and I don’t see any ambiguity there. If we have the opportunity, we would even say he should be there for 12 years as president. This is the opportunity for people of South-South where the black gold is dug from. I don’t know why Nigerians are making much ado about nothing.
When Baba Gana Kingibe, former secretary to the government of the federation presented himself to contest election in Nigeria, nobody gave a thought about the origin of the man until after the whole exercise when some people started saying he’s not a Nigerian. Why should people complain about a South-South man where the wealth of the nation comes from?
But there were claims by some people from the north that he had an agreement with them to run for a single term
Let us see the agreement. Now as a journalist, if I promise you that I will buy you a car just because I want you to be projecting my image, that is just a bed room agreement. If there is such agreement, we want to see it to know if it is in line with the Nigerian constitution. The Nigerian constitution supersedes that of the PDP.
(Cuts in) but it could be a gentleman’s agreement
Then, they don’t have a case. If you look at section 1 of the constitution, it states that any law that is against the constitution is a nullity to the extent of that law. Even if it is written, anything that is contrary to the constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria is illegal.
For instance, both of us agreed to kill a man, and later I say I am no longer interested in the agreement to kill a man, and you are now forcing me because I earlier agreed to do something that is against the law,it is wrong.
The United States’ recent investigation proved that corruption under Jonathan administration is more pronounced than that of previous governments. Why is it difficult for this government to fight corruption?
To be fair to him, I think the issue of corruption has been with us before Jonathan came to power. Recently there was a report in the papers that Obasanjo and Yar’Adua’s government mismanaged some billions of naira. What do you call that? Is it not corruption? Nobody regard corruption under those former leaders as evil. It is only in Jonathan’s tenure that corruption indices have jumped up. We have heard of oil windfall money amounting to several billions of naira missing and nobody said anything about that one.
What I am saying is that if people want to criticize Jonathan’s government, let them do that objectively devoid of malice and mischief. When Obasanjo was in the saddle, he sent soldiers to destroy Odi community but since Jonathan came to power, he has been preaching peace. He has never ordered for people to be killed and that is a credit to him. Nigerians are not seeing all these.
They only regard him as a lazy or a non performing president. I think if he decides not to contest again as Nigerian president after this tenure, his God which he worships will be with him because he did not raise any squad to bring people down. The man came as God-sent. I think the statement by America on corruption in Nigeria is their own personal view.
Finally, I think Jonathan’s government has exposed corruption more than any regime in Nigeria. But the greatest impediment to the fight against corruption is the judiciary. The judiciary has helped so many people who are supposed to be languishing in jail to be walking on the streets of Nigerian towns free men and women. Jonathan has allowed for more freedom of information than any other president in the country.
Moreover, our press must be nationalistic in that they should consider the love of the country more important than anything else. A lot of crimes are committed on daily basis in US and South Africa but the press in those country does not expose it the way we do it in Nigeria.
Do you consider the formation of PDP South-South Forum in Lagos as a ploy by the party to capture Lagos in 2015?
Yes, in fact our gathering here today with the chairman of South-South Forum in our midst shows that the level has changed. We are mindful of what the party is saying that when we voted for our man as president, we all went back to sleep. That was why the party lost in the governorship.
I tell you that can not happen this time around. I am now sure that with the inauguration of BoT and the forces in us, I mean forces in all ramifications, Lagos State is a must for the party. It is a battle that we will fight and win.
That is why you see us doing what we are doing. After all, those that have been winning elections in the state are human beings. The PDP South-South Forum is an organ to let the people know that the people of South –South exist in large numbers here in Lagos. It is also an avenue to let our governors and the people at the federal level know that we are existing and waxing stronger here.
We have a lot of programmes for our people in Lagos State . Many of us became members of the BoT through a rigorous process and we have a lot of strategies to move the party forward.