*Myopic ranting- Brig Gen Ikponmwen (retd,); He lacks common sense- Chief Omolubi; Blustering for notorious fame- Comrade Oyibode
By Emma Amaize, Regional Editor, South-South
LEADER of the Niger Delta People Peoples Volunteer Force/Niger Delta People Salvation Front, NDPVF/NDPSF, Alhaji Mujahid Dokubo-Asari, has come under fire over his most recent eruption that the Vice President, Prof Yemi Osinbajo, who is the leader of the Federal Government delegation on the Niger Delta peace process, should stop visiting the region.
The fiery Niger Delta militant leader in an interview published in our last edition had lashed out at the Itsekiri, Urhobo and other ethnic nationalities in the region, accusing them of unjustly reaping from struggles embarked upon by Ijaw people which they did not participate in.
His words: “I do not believe that there is conflict between the Niger Delta as a whole and the Nigeria state, but rather, it is between the Ijaws and the Nigerian state. Let us not put it with the Niger Delta because when Ijaws fight and die, a lot of these individuals come and claim benefits. When benefits come, they come out. When Ijaws are fighting and dying, they sit in their houses and call us all sorts of names. We have never gone to their territory to look for their problem, we are in our land and doing what we think is right for ourselves.”
He posited among other things that Prof Osinbajo’s widely praised confidence-building visits to the region in the past few months were unwarranted, stating categorically: “This issue of jamboree by the vice president is funny. Are they our overlords or are we being colonized that they are coming to visit here and there? Don’t they know what is right?
Former Provost Marshal of the Nigeria Army and South-South leader, Brigadier-General Don Idada Ikponmwen (retd.), Itsekiri ethnic nationality leader and former Commissioner in Delta State, Chief Omolubi Newuwumi, National Secretary of Urhobo Youth Leaders Association, UYLF, Comrade Vincent Oyibode and others, who spoke to Saturday Vanguard, during the week, sharply rebuked the militant leader for his supposed imprudent explosion.
Ikponmwen, who said he laughed at the rabble-rousing remarks of Dokubo-Asari when he read his interview in Saturday Vanguard, last week, said much as the ex-militant leader misfired, he spoke the minds of many Ijaw people, who had derided other ethnic groups in the course of the agitation.
He, however, said that Dokubo-Asari and his ilk were wrong, adding: “I, therefore, see as purposeless and meaningless his comments in the Saturday Vanguard publication. We must urge him and others of his like to have a serious rethink and come to terms with the need for reality and mutual cooperation among the entire people of the Niger Delta if the region’s predicaments are to get the desired attention and cooperation of other Nigerians, and the central government in particular.”
He said: “I have for long known and observed that the predominant view of the average Ijaw person in Nigeria is that the problem of the Niger Delta area begins and ends with the Ijaw nationality. They regard all non-Ijaw as ‘peripheral’ or “upland Niger Delta” far away and removed from the hardship of those of the creek areas of the region that are essentially of Ijaw habitats.”
“This is the mind-set that has been so obvious from the attitude and utterances of the likes of Dokubo- Asari and substantially also explains why other nationalities of the Niger Delta (South- South in particular) were alienated and sidelined during the tenure of President Jonathan.
“This selfish, myopic and unpatriotic attitude remains a canker-worm in the collective efforts of the entire Niger Delta to speak with one voice and to properly articulate their joint problem. It is selfish and irrational for people to seek cooperation of those they generally disregard only when they need wider support for their agitation.
“There can be no success in the struggle for socioeconomic emancipation of the Niger Delta area unless and until there is a concerted and unified effort by all constituents of the region,” the retired army officer asserted.
Omolubi, who also spoke to Saturday Vanguard in a comparable element, said: “There was evidence of a misplaced outburst against Prof Osibanjo over his visits to the Niger-Delta region, which Asari claimed were mere jamborees. This outburst is not only regrettable and shocking, but also terrifying and disappointing.”
He declared: “Dokubo-Asari- cannot be guaranteed a place in sanity if he calls such visitations by the vice president jamborees when the visits were aimed to make the entire region better than it is at present. If he claims the federal government is insensitive to the plight of the people of the region, common sense should have dictated to him that there is nothing wrong if the federal government decides to right the wrongs of past governments.”
“These visitations embarked by the vice president are needed to build confidence to enable it to carry its laudable programmes for the region. In the vice president’s recent visitations, he was able to meet, face-to-face with stakeholders; from elected leaders to the ordinary people, and very important inputs were made on how best to address the myriad and lingering problems facing the region. If Dokubo-played himself out of these meetings for selfish reasons, why is he complaining?
Visit already producing result
In this short while, some benefits have already been made following the vice president’s visits. These include the presidential order directing the international oil companies operating in the region to relocate their headquarters in Nigeria to the region. And the promise of the support and establishment of modular refineries in the region as against illegal ones that cause spillages and pollution. These practical orders and other policies by the government would definitely bring about development to the region.
“It is laughable for Asari-Dokubo to claim in his unwarranted outburst, that the vice president embarked on these visits because of what he called the ‘Ijaw oils.’ He should be aware there are nine oil producing states in the region. And constitutionally, the oil belongs to us all.
“It is also disturbing when he referred to his arms conflict as ‘struggle’. He and other ex-militant leaders, who engaged in all sorts of illegalities, did so for their selfish benefits. As wealthy as he is reported to be, he does not have any viable investment in the region. The only institution which he owns was built in Benin Republic.
“Suffice to say that Dokubo-Asari is seeking some form of relevance with his disconnected outburst, he should not be seen or even heard granting these interviews, except he is paying for them as personal announcement, it makes no meaning at all,” Omolubi added.
Who is Dokubo-Asari?
In his retort, Oyibode, an Urhobo youth leader, said: “The recent outburst by Dokubo-Asari that the Urhobo and other ethnic nationalities are benefiting from Ijaw struggle is misleading and insulting. Niger Delta is comprised of various ethnic nationalities; Urhobo is the fifth largest ethnic nationality in Nigeria rich with abundance oil and gas.”
“Urhobo youths and groups, including Urhobo Scholars, are in the forefront of the struggle, Dokubo-Asari Asari promoted by Urhobo youth leaders, one of whom is Comrade Rex Anighoro, presently a Special Assistant to the Governor of Delta State. There is no group that has struggled hard in the Niger Delta than Urhobo youths.
“Dokubo-Asari was known to be committing a lot of nefarious activities such as illegal oil bunkering, taking oil workers hostage along the creek of Okirika in River State. He was arrested and put in underground cell before President Jonathan pleaded for his release,” he said.
Parading for discounted recognition
His words: “The result of Dokubo-Asari on the struggle for the emancipation of the Niger Delta people is selfish and self-centred. If I must ask What was Dokubo-Asari business that earned him money to build a university in foreign land? Is the university he built in Ijaw land? Why did he choose to build it in Benin Republic, develop another man’s land other than the Niger Delta he claims he struggled for? Did the hotel he built in Calabar bring any development to Ijaw land?
“Chief E. K. Clark built a private University in his hometown; this is development that must be appreciated. Ex-militant leader, Government Ekpemupolo, alias Tompolo is a youth that Dokubo-Asari should emulate; he influenced the Nigeria Maritime University, NMU, Okerenkoko and the Deep Seaport of the EPZ to Gbaramatu. He struggled to make a council chairman and a Deputy Governor, what has Dokubo-Asari done for the people of Okirika? He said.
Oyibode asserted: “Dokubo-Asari is only looking for cheap popularity from the government of President Muhamudu Buhari, but his time has passed. He is only trying to confess how they hoodwinked former President Goodluck Jonathan to abandon the Urhobo in his administration.”
“His usual and unguarded statement was the reason Jonathan lost the election in 2015, Dokubo-Asari should note that the votes given to Jonathan by the Urhobo people were more than the votes from Okirika and the whole votes from Bayelsa state.
He spoke for himself, not Ijaw
“The stage we are in the Niger Delta now has gone beyond the antics of people like Dokubo-Asari. All ethnic groups in the region now work together as brother under the Pan Niger Delta Forum, PANDEF, led by Chief Edwin Clark.
“You can recall that the group made a-16 point dialogue demand to the Federal Government and asked the government to come down and see things for itself and the President commissioned the Vice President, Prof Yemi Osibanjo, to go round the states of the region. Today, the Niger Delta people commend President Buhari for the concern he has shown and after the visit, you can see that peace has returned,” he asserted.
He stated: “I wish to call on Dokubo-Asari to be part of the prevailing peace and let all ethnic groups in the region work together as one instead of fighting and attacking each other in the media. But I know Dokubo- Asari did not speak for the Ijaw nation, he only ventilated his selfish and barbaric opinion. Dokubo-Asari cannot get any attention by fighting against other ethnic groups. At his level, if he has nothing to say or contribute for the region to move forward, he is advised to sit at home and keep quiet.
Urhobo remains committed to struggle
The youth leader declared: “The Urhobo nation remains committed to the struggle, we join in calling on the Federal Government to implement the promises made so far such as immediate take -off of the Nigeria Maritime University, Okerenkoko, quick establishment of the modular refineries, award of pipeline surveillance contract to ethnic communities, the EPZ Gas project, Ogidigben.