Displeased by the slow space at which conventional courts are handling the trial of corruption suspects, a former Niger Delta militant, Israel Akpodoro, in this interview, calls on President Muhammadu Buhari to consider establishing special courts to try alleged looters and proxies.
Akpodoro, who is the President of National Coalition of Niger Delta Ex-Agitators, NCNDE-A, argues that trial in such courts shouldn’t last beyond six months including the period of review of cases.
The ex-agitator, who led a group that endorsed the President, leading it to campaign for him in the Niger Delta, however, said Buhari owes it a duty to appoint nominees of the All Progressives Congress, APC, into strategic positions.
You were instrumental to the victory of the ruling All Progressive Congress, APC, having led a group that campaigned for President Muhammadu Buhari in the Niger Delta. What is your take in this journey into the era of change?
Yes, the change is here and it has come to stay permanently. Nigerians voted exactly for the services being rendered by the President and we are pleased that Nigerians now have value for their votes.
We in the APC are behind the President’s efforts on the on-going economic recovery. The economy was grounded by the 16 years misrule of the Peoples Democratic Party, PDP, and revamping an economy that was a victim of reckless looting is not easy to fix.
So, the President had not made some good appointments but there is room to make amendments because apologists of the failed PDP have infiltrated the ranks of the broom party.
Are you saying the President made wrong appointments?
Not entirely wrong, but most of the appointees aren’t loyal members of the party. For instance, an appointee of the APC, who appoints a PDP die-hard as his aide, is not loyal and hasn’t the interest of the party at heart. In view of this, the President would have to work with the party to ensure that only loyal party men and women are given appointment.
You are based in Delta State. What do you say is the strength of the APC in the state?
The party is doing well and trying to build a strong structure preparatory to the 2019 elections. The strength of a party is to build a formidable structure capable of winning election at all levels.
This is what the Prophet Jones Erue – led APC is doing in the state with Olorogun Otega Emerhor, financially supporting the party structure. Unlike the PDP, APC wins victory at the polls but not capture victory.
Still on political patronage, would you say appointments into position by the APC-led Federal Government have been satisfactory so far especially in the Niger Delta?
No, appointments by the Buhari-led FG haven’t met the desires of many. It is lopsided because appointments made so far are concentrated in one ethnic group to the detriment of others.
In Delta State, for instance, it’s obvious that the Ikas are the major beneficiaries of the appointments here, ditto Rivers State and others.
Does it mean other nationalities in Delta State are being marginalised?
No, the Urhobo, Itsekiri, Isoko and Ndokwa people are not marginalised but are in the waiting to be appointed. We all worked for the emergence of this government and we must be appointed. Urhobo people are APC faithful and must be patronized by this administration.
Can you be more explicit on this?
I, for instance, defied all odds to work for Buhari when the heat was high. For the purpose of Buhari’s election, I founded the Urhobo Youth Forum for Change, UYFC, which, like wild fire, spread through Urhobo land and we won a large followership for the broom party.
In addition, I founded and funded the National Coalition for Niger Delta Ex-Agitators, NCNDE-A, a platform used by notable ex-militants to support and campaign the APC and its presidential candidate into power. These actions opened me up for attacks before the presidential election and the success of the party’s outing attracted envy and subsequent blackmail against those of us who stuck out our necks to work for the APC in criminal grandstanding.
In conspiracy with some greedy members of the ruling party, members of the opposition engage in lies, blackmail and outright campaign of calumny against most of us to gain vantage positions in a government they fought tooth and nail to stop it’s emergence. You reap where you sow but in this dispensation that adage holds no meaning because the opposition now stand better chances than those of who brought APC to power.
Amidst this, are you still hopeful the administration will reward hard-working party members?
The President is only taking his time and I am sure that, very soon, everyone who worked for Buhari will be appointed. We are all aware that there are many position that are yet to be filled and loyalists of the party are waiting for the President to appoint those recommended by the party.
When the time of God comes, I wont be left out but the President should listen to the leadership of our party and appoint only those recommended by the party.
What’s your take on the fight against corruption by this administration?
Nigerians gave the President the mandate to uproot corruption from our system as a nation and he’s doing just that. As against the magic expected by the PDP and its apologists, the President has done a lot to win the support of the Nigerian people. PDP doesn’t believe in change and it becomes amoral for the forces of retrogressive transformation to question in a nation the same party brought to its knees.
Therefore, the President, through the EFCC, should go all out and recover every illicit proceed of loot from the enemies of the Nigerian people.
Don’t you think the fight against corruption is one-sided?
It’s not one-sided because a thief remains a thief no matter how many of them were involved. Does it mean if an armed robber is caught, we have to let him go because he has pointed at other thieves?
Incidentally, none of these people who are alleged to have stolen money has come up to deny it other than shouting witch-hunt. But, come to think of it, the PDP-led government told the whole world in a weird definition of corruption that there was no corruption in Nigeria but mere stealing. It goes to show that the leaders of other parties have no skeleton in their cupboard and, apart from that, the umbrella party was in power for 16 years under which corruption became Nigeria’s middle name. This government should consider establishing special courts to try alleged looters and proxies. Trial in such courts shouldn’t last beyond six months including the period of review of cases.