Prince Ebile Dudu is the National Coordinator, Niger Delta Youths for Jonathan. In this interview, he says President Goodluck Jonathan deserves second term, insisting that the people of the Niger Delta will not forgive Jonathan if he fails to declare his intention for the 2015 presidential election soon. Excerpts:
You have been drumming support for President Jonathan in the states, May we know how it has been?
It has been so fine. We want the President to come back even though he has not declared his interest; Niger Delta youths want him back. If he refuses to come back, we will not forgive him.
This is our time, the West took their eight years; if Yar’Adua was alive, he would have taken his eight years and the North has been ruling us for years. We believe that it is President Jonathan’s constitutional right to run for second term.
That is why we have been touring the country to convince youths from other regions on why they must support Jonathan. Jonathan is doing very well as President and we need his experience.
This insurgency did not start from Jonathan’s time; he inherited most of these problems. The first time Boko Haram struck was during the administration of the late President Yar’Adua but they now intensified their activities during Jonathan’s tenure.
We are aware that their aim is to distract government but in a couple of months their activities will be over. Again, talking about poverty and our economy, these are problems that have eaten deep into our lives for years, just like corruption.
And you don’t expect this President to end all the problems, created over 50 years ago, in four years. When Jonathan came, he increased the salaries of Youth Corps members; our railway system has started working; look at our airports; the economy is growing and investors are coming every day. So if he is given another term, poverty will be a forgotten issue.
And this insinuation people always make that Jonathan is slow in taking decision or that he is weak is not true, we forgot that we are in a democracy, and in a democracy, you don’t take decisions on your own; you have to consult. If the man decides to take decisions like the military now, people will say he is a dictator.
Now he has been given approval by the National Assembly for the extension of state of emergency in three of the troubled states in the North, after he requested for it. That is how a leader should behave but we will recall that some leaders in the past will not seek the approval of the National Assembly before taking such decision.
But the argument is that the state of emergency has not achieved anything. So why ask for extension?
That is not true, it has achieved success. Boko Haram activities have been on there for over 10 years, so they had solidified their structure. Six months of state of emergency cannot dismantle the structure of over 10, 15 years. The problem we are have is that we tend to politicise everything in this country and it is not doing us any good.
Do you think Jonathan actually deserves second term considering the fact that projects even from his area, like the East West Road, are yet to be completed?
He deserves even more than second term because this is a President that met so many problems more than any other President in the past, yet he is dealing with them. The East West Road you are talking about is 80 per cent completed and we believe that before the end of this year he will complete it.
Remember that he did not start these projects, but when you look at the progress made so far you will know that he is committed. Apart from that, you should also know that he is not the President of the Niger Delta but of Nigeria; so he should be tackling all the problems in other regions as well. I seriously believe he is doing his best in all the regions and if he is given more time Nigerians will never regret it.
What has been the response from the states you visited?
We have visited many states and the response has been quite encouraging. We have been to Delta, Akwa Ibom, Edo, Rivers, Bayelsa, Ekiti and we are continuing. But what I have observed in the Niger Delta is that there is consensus among the states that our son, President Jonathan, must come back.
That is why we are calling on him to declare his intention soonest because we want him back to complete his good works. But if he said he does not want to, we all will come to Aso Rock to force him to do it, even if they want to kill all of us, they can go ahead. It is our turn and nobody can stop us.
But the North says it is their turn
I don’t see what the North has that we don’t have. We even have what they don’t have, oil. However we respect them and expect them to reciprocate. They have been there for a long time; let them support us. When Yar’Adua was there, we supported him. So I don’t see any reason the North should not support us now.
Again no threat will break up Nigeria as people are saying. Nigeria did not break up when the North was ruling, so it will not break now that Jonathan is in-charge. And I want to urge delegates to the confab to also know that the purpose of that conference is to find solutions to our problems and not to go there to look for issues that will divide us or run down the President.
The youths of Niger Delta are not ready to take up arms again but they should not make us to take up arms because it will not be to the benefit of all of us. We are already tired of Boko Haram;so we should not look for another problem. Again people will be making a big mistake by trying to use Boko Haram to stop Jonathan’s presidency in 2015, there is no way it will work.