Honourable Famous Daunemigha is one of the architects of the famous Kaiama Declaration in the Niger Delta. He was the former national deputy president of Ijaw youth council. He was also a former governorship candidate of the defunct Congress for Progressive Change, CPC, in 2011 and the first to bring General Buhari to Bayelsa state. In this interview, he accuses some of President Muhammadu Buhari’s cabinet members of thwarting efforts to have peace in the Niger Delta region. Excerpts:
By Johnbosco Agbakwuru
Can we know your take on this issue of the renewed attacks in the Niger Delta?
The renewed attacks in the Niger Delta right now were borne out of the old unattended issues of the Niger Delta. I would be bold enough to say that now, we don’t have new agitations. The few agitators or militant groups now are still seeking the very questions on issues concerning development in the Niger Delta. So, they have not deviated from the previous types of agitations. That is what is going on right now.
What do you think is the solution?
The solution has to come from the sincerity of government. First because I think that from where we come from, we are not demanding too much from the country that we are all part of, because we are a major stakeholders. We are not saying that we want Nigeria, we are simply saying that the resources that we generate and bring to the table, we should have something to fall back to. That is my stand. And I think the government should be sincere enough to say okay, come let us sit down together and tackle this issue. You can see how they are going about sourcing for funds in the development of the North East. They can do us the same thing. That is why government needs to do for us in the Niger Delta.
Do you think if additional funds are injected into the region, the money will be well utilised given insinuations of misuse of the derivation funds?
It’s just like saying my son is going to school but he’s not passing the examination and for this reason, I will no longer train him. Accept, the issue of the 13 percent has been mismanaged by the government but it’s a different issue to be discussed another day. If you come to the 13 percent issue, if I produce 100 percent of wealth, I should take my 100 percent of my wealth and give you the 13 percent, are you justifying that they are doing us a favour? There is no favour there.
In concrete terms, what do you need from the government to ensure an even development and peace in the Niger Delta region?
That is where there’s confusion now. That is what confuses both the Federal Government and the Niger Delta people.
In the past, we had several people involved in this peace process, all the past administrations have been buying peace, right from Obasanjo. Obasanjo bought peace, Yar’Adua also bought peace in form of amnesty. Goodluck Jonathan also bought peace in the Niger Delta by sustaining the peace initiatives laid by the late Yar’Adua.
Now, Buhari, who I had tremendous respect for having been a CPC governorship candidate in 2011 with him, came on board and instead of him to improve on what others have done, he tried to stop them.
Now, we have a very big problem and the problem is that the likes of Ibe Kachikwu, the Minister of Petroleum is very sincere in his adventure of trying to see how he can make peace in the Niger Delta but his efforts are being thwarted by the same cabinet members as well. So, the government needs to identify those who mean well for the region and work with them.
On our own part, our own is very simple. The government should be able to set up a dialogue team and call on them to visit the Niger Delta people and discus issues of the Niger Delta. Let’s come to the table and discuss.
Chief Edwin Clark led a negotiation team to Mr President, do you believe in the leadership of Edwin Clark?
Let me inform you people, Edwin Clark never led any negotiation, never.
That meeting we had with the president was a courtesy call. I think there’s a misrepresentation of facts in this whole matter. The meeting was a courtesy call and in a courtesy call normally, you table your demands and all the rest.
That was what we did. Now, if the government comes up with a negotiation team, the Niger Delta region will come out with her team and I believe that Edwin Clark is a man who by next year, will be 90 years, will never be part of the team.
We have the likes Obong Victor Attah, Chief Timi Alaibe and so many others there. Clark only provided the needed system that was needed to gather everybody.