By Emmanuel Aziken, Political Editor
Says Nigerian presidency is not the birthright of Kaita’s family …
Annkio Briggs is undoubtedly one of the leading female activists to have come out from the Niger Delta region. President of the Agape Birthright, spokesperson of the Ijaw Republican Assembly (IRA) and also the United Niger Delta Energy Development Security Strategy (UNDEDSS), Briggs in this interview responds to issues concerning the 2015 presidential election and assertions by some Ijaw activists on the sustenance of the Jonathan presidency. Excerpts:
MUST it be violence for violence?
We are human beings and if we continue to sit down and allow a certain group of people to say certain things and laugh it over, then what is happening today is what will happen, then I too can say it and people can laugh over it.
If President Jonathan decides not to contest, then what would you do?
The decision to contest or not to contest is Jonathan’s. If for instance, the Niger Delta people agree that Jonathan should contest and he says he is not going to contest, that is his choice. It is his choice and that is the point I am making which is that it is not the choice of Kaita or Buhari or anybody to tell Nigerians who to vote for.
As a civil right activist, are you satisfied with the performance of President Goodluck Jonathan?
I am on record of complaining about so many things about Jonathan’s presidency so far, so let people go back and look at those statements.
Retraction of statement
I stand by every one of my statements. I am not retracting anything. The only time I will retract anything is if the condition that led to that statement changes, then I will change my position. Nobody is saying that Jonathan’s government is perfect. Nobody has said that. I have criticised it and I have used the Niger Delta as a yardstick to measure his performance and I have said it very clearly.
Now, having said that, we are two years into a four year term and I am not oblivious to the fact that from the day it became clear that he was going to be the president of this country that some people constituted themselves into a sort of opposition that would make him to seem ineffective. People have now forgotten about Boko Haram, Boko Haram has now been relegated to the background and you now have bandits that are roaming around in some states in the north!
I am not deluded that everything possible has been done to make sure that Jonathan is perceived and is seen and actually seen not to be performing and until these obstacles are not there will I be able to say categorically that Jonathan has not performed.
But that does not mean that I should say that Jonathan should not exercise the right and indeed, he should exercise the right that Nigerian voters have given to him. No matter how we fight for Jonathan, the final decision is Jonathan’s and when it comes to criticising Jonathan, I will not shy away from crticising him.
But why has Jonathan with the apparatus of government in his hand not been able to identify those who are sponsoring the violence?
We would not know and that is what we are calling on him to do. I do not work with government so I would in no way know.
What is your take on the amnesty plan for members of the Boko Haram insurgents?
It is not a matter of amnesty. Even the amnesty that was offered in the Niger Delta what has it been able to achieve in terms of time line and what it was expected to achieve? We expected it to create the avenue where development will come to the Niger Delta, but that has not happened.
But it has stopped violence?
Let me tell you why Niger Delta is no longer violent is because Jonathan is the president. Let me tell you the truth and anybody that does not know that is fooling himself. The reason why the oil production has gone up is because Jonathan is the president. That is just the truth and that is the point that must be made and must be understood and if anybody else thinks that why the oil production is gone up and the Niger Delta is calm, then that person should reassess the whole scenario.
Are you saying if President Jonathan is defeated in a free and fair election that violence will spring up in the Niger Delta?
It doesn’t matter who is the president as far as Niger Delta people are concerned, our demands remain our demands. We want to control our resources, we want to develop ourselves, we own the resources that are in the Niger Delta, it is on our land. These are the things that we are talking about. The issue of the Kaiama Declaration still stands. The things that Adaka Boro fought for still stand. The things that Ken Saro Wiwa died for which is that they should stop despoiling our environment; these demands are still there, they are not going to go away whether Jonathan is there or not.
But President Jonathan has not addressed them?
If Jonathan addresses the issues he would be accused of addressing his people’s issues. When he does not address it he would be accused of not addressing it. So what is it that we want this Jonathan to do now? He is one man!
What is it that we want him to do? We say he is not addressing insecurity in the north, so we now are making sure that his issue is not insecurity in the Niger Delta and people are saying that he has not addressed this and he has not addressed that. If we also get up and put fire on Jonathan, then you will see what will happen. The output of oil will be reduced. See, there is no point pretending, there is no point in being afraid, these are things that must be said and they are being said now.
If Ciroma, Kaita and all these elderly people can come out and say these things about Nigeria and about Jonathan, then they should expect that we also must be allowed to express how we feel and the reality is, whether it is agreed or not agreed, the resources are in the Niger Delta, therefore it belongs to us.
We are the ones drinking polluted water. Is Kaita drinking polluted water? Is he breathing gas flared oil? These are the things that must be said. Is Kaita drinking polluted water? When he talks like that it is very offensive, therefore somebody like me I will talk the way he has spoken so that we will see if it is good or bad. If he thinks that he can make Nigeria ungovernable, we too can make Nigeria ungovernable and that is what we are saying.
Is the presidency of Nigeria his birthright to be handed over to him and his family? Which president has performed better than Jonathan? Answer me and who is he worse than? What nonsense!