Mr. Ojie Mark Ojie is a peace campaigner from Edo State with a strong message to political leaders and their followers to follow peace with all men in every endeavour. In this interview he gives reasons why Nigerian youths must reject the message of violence. Excerpts:
By Emma Ujah, Abuja Bureau Chief
Who do you represent?
I represent myself and the voiceless.
Who are the voiceless?
People who are from the very low background like me. People who did not see electricity when they were growing up. People who do not have transport money to come to Abuja and even if they have transport money to come to Abuja, they donft have anybody to stay with when they come to Abuja.
What is the interest of this group?
The interest of this group is to prepare Nigerians for 2015, to build a culture of peace undertake a value re-orientation among our people.
How do you want to prepare the people for 2015?
We are campaigning for peace. We are telling them don’t accept a gun or a machete from anybody. Don’t even accept money from anybody. This is critical. Our youths cannot continue to mortgage their future because one politician or the other wants them to do their bidding.
There was this incident at a meeting of Edo Forum. They were to appoint a secretary and one small boy stood up to be appointed, and Mike Akhigbe, may his soul rest in peace, said no, no, they needed somebody with pedigree. A young man was at the meeting and he was not afraid to ask the question,who was Akhigbe before Mike joined the Navy? That was how that matter was settled. You can go on and on like that. You don’t know who anybody was until one person in that family decided to do something.
How can we stop money for votes in the midst of abject poverty?
We can educate our people and tell them why they should vote for people based on integrity. They should vote for people based on performance, based on what those in government have delivered and what they have promised to deliver.
What is the objective in doing this?
I want to see a country, where people live like civilized people; where nobody wants to kill the other person; where everybody can work for the progress of the society; where nobody thinks of violence; where nobody abuse our leaders, calling them derogatory names and all that.
You have told us what you expect of the people- that they should respect their leaders , that they should not run down our leaders. Respect is earned. What therefore do you expect of our leaders?
I tell one thing. Here, a man gets to an office and in less than 11 hours later, he was being criticized and some people were saying that he was expected to fail. I said why don’t you even congratulate the man first. I am talking about the new PDP Chairman whom I have never met. We were at the AIT and one us was already running down this man, completely, then I said why not pray for this man and give him a little time to succeed first and then if he is not doing well, you would have something to talk about. You can tell him that he is not doing well.
What do you consider to be the way out of the political crisis in Rivers State?
If we do not start early now and begin to talk to them and educate them it will be worse. In my state, it would be worse. Right in the front of those who are ruling us you can see what the cultists are doing. I ask them, in a situation where people recruit cultists to help them win elections, what do you expect if not entrenchment of violence? I ask questions from those in government, if you arm young people and ask them to help you win election by intimidating your opponents, what becomes of the society, thereafter.