SENATOR Bariagha Amange in this interview calls on President Muhammadu Buhari not to approach the current crisis in the Niger Delta region with military might, noting that dialogue is key to resolving the hostility. He also spoke on other issues.
By Ben Agande
Your party is experiencing another of leadership crisis. Are you not concerned that the current conflict might be more injurious to the PDP?
I don’t think so. PDP is a very big family and even within the nucleus you can have misunderstanding, so I am not surprised that we are having these challenges. My worry is that we are not in power, we shouldn’t have allowed this to happen to the party; we should have curtailed them and move together to see what God has for us in 2019.
This distraction definitely will not help us. Now that the APC government is not doing fine, we would have cashed in on this and put a shadow government to work towards getting back power. I am worried, yes, but I don’t think it will lead to disintegration.
Do you think the party has learnt enough from its past?
From what I am seeing we have not learnt enough. We have not been practicing our slogan that is the problem. It started when a group of people decided to pick an acting chairman.
Why would you pick an acting chairman? Why didn’t they allow the deputy chairman who was acting to complete that tenure and then go into the convention so that all those who are clamouring to take the position will contest for it?
Now, power was given on a platter of gold to one man and he was called acting chairman and now they are telling him to quit. That is what we are facing now. The mistake made was to get a new acting chairman in place of Uche Secondus.
The way forward is continue dialoguing and I pray that both sides will shift ground. If the present chairman wants the party to remain united and move forward, he should not stick to his gun.
What is your assessment of the APC led Federal Government one year after?
APC has not done very well. Unfortunately our party which is supposed to be the opposition party is not faring any better, thereby giving them the leeway. So many of their promises have not been met, we don’t have a strong voice to let the people know that these promises were made and they are not being kept.
Unfortunately for the party they came in after which the economy crashed. I cannot say whether APC was the cause or not.
But it is unfortunate because the team they have today cannot manage the economy. This is the truth because we have had worst period than this and the problem is who are the people managing the economy? Are they qualified to do it?
Were you surprised to hear about the misappropriation of funds by your party during its time in office?
Well, I am not surprised but I am also surprised the way the present government is going. Let them tell us if they are after corrupt individuals or they are after the PDP as a party.
If the government wants to probe election funding, fine, then we should probe election funding generally. What they are doing is that they are probing the source of PDP’s funds that were used to fund election.
What of APC? The party was funded by individuals. Labour Party and others were also funded. So government should come out and say we are probing election funding and it should cover all the political parties.
There is resurgence of militancy in the Niger Delta, what does this portend?
I always believe that these boys in the Niger Delta are agitators. When you say militancy like the President said he was going to treat them the way he is treating Boko Haram, it is wrong. They are two different things. They are agitating. It is like the IPOB in the Southeast, they are agitating. It is lack of equity that is causing all these pockets of agitations. And if a group is agitating, it is left for the government to listen to them.
They have released a list of those who own oil blocks in the Niger Delta. If you look at the list, all the names on it are from one part of the country, why? So if people are agitating can’t you call them or call their leaders and say if that one was a mistake made by the military, the civilian government should be able to correct it.
On bombing of pipelines
How do you agitate? You must make noise. We are not supporting the destruction of the ecosystem because the more they blow up oil pipelines the more they destroy the ecosystem.
There are better ways to agitate I agree with you but what I am saying is that the President said he will treat them the way he is treating Boko Haram. Now if you look at Boko Haram and say they are agitating, what are they agitating for? One school of thought said they want to Islamize Nigeria. If they want to Islamize Nigeria, why are they bombing mosques? The Southeast people are feeling that they are not enjoying key political appointments. Why not see how their fears can be addressed?
Where do you see the PDP in 2019?
2019 is for the PDP. We should forget about our selfish interests because all the people struggling are struggling for themselves, not for the party. If you have the party at heart, you can say let go so many things.
But I am not seeing that. The struggle is selfish in nature and if we continue this way, it may not be good for us. It is the party that will eventually suffer.
And if we don’t win 2019, it will be difficult for us to come back even in 2023 because the present party will consolidate. They know our lapses so they will try to consolidate.