BY JIMITOTA ONOYUME
Comrade Joseph Ambakaderemo, Convener, South-South Reawakening Group, SSRG, in this interview harps on good governance as the panacea to the myriad of challenges plaguing the nation, describing the clamour for restructuring as another distraction in the body politic.
There has been clamour for restructuring of the Nigerian state as a way out of the problems in the country. Do you agree?
For people like us, we don’t believe in the totality of the entire process. What are we restructuring? That is the question we are asking. What shape will the restructuring take? Nobody has come to say the style, the shape for the restructuring. Is it true federalism, devolution of power, ministerial system of government?
For me I want to liken it to the situation in the market place, the market place is even better because the seller and buyer hear themselves at the end of the day they consummate an action. But in Nigeria’s case, nobody has told us what should be done. For over fifty years we have been talking about the form of government we want, it is a big shame. The media is not helping matters, it should redirect this discourse, but surprisingly they have muddled the water. We don’t even know where we are and where we want to go to.
Everybody is talking; nobody is listening. We were supposed to have passed this stage!
As a group what is your position?
As Nigerians we must redirect our minds, we must refocus our minds, restructure our minds, our behaviours, our character, the lack of oneness is the bane of our problem. The issue of corruption is a major problem; it is not restructuring. Is it restructuring that will stop the endemic corruption in the country. Those holding Nigeria to ransom today are not more than two hundred persons, and you can find them in each ethnic group. They are just a few persons at any point in time. Is it restructuring that will stop the National Assembly from padding budgets? Or the teachers that have turned class rooms into market place, dumping their jobs?
It is only in Nigeria you find that we can’t organise ourselves at intersections, everybody wants to move at the same time and at the end of the day we remain in one place. In that confusion on the road, you find a doctor, a professor, a journalist, how do you explain this. And suddenly out of the blues you find a mad man who comes to control the traffic, he controls you and I who went to school.
Some have said restructuring will address the problem of minorities in the country?
Well, who are the minorities? Every section in this country cries of being marginalised. We (Ijaw of South-South) just had power; we missed it. In the South-South region where I come from, today we live in an organised chaos. When President Jonathan was in power should have been used to make positive references in the country. But what happened, we blew it. Today his government is referred as the most corrupt in the country
Don’t you think the allegations around that government could be cheap propaganda?
Well, you are saying it is not true, yet you are running away. Let’s not paint criminal matters with political coats.
Obasanjo was in power for eight years, the man in the north shouted marginalization, Yar Adua came those in the south shouted marginalization , Jonathan came it was same from other sides. Those clamoring for restructuring today why did they not do it when they were there. Former Vice President Abubakar Atiku who has become champion of restructuring, why did he not discuss it with his principal?
The Jonathan government convoked a conference; he did not implement it. Even the one that needed executive fiat, rather he told Nigerians that he would not be the one to balkanize the country. Now you are out of government and calling on the President that took over from you to implement your mess. You think the APC government will implement what you brought partisanship into?
We have not made progress since 1999, so how long are we going to blame the military? Even if we want to do regions the six states in the South-South can’t do anything. You and I can’t talk, you can’t ask your governor what they are doing with money.
What is your position on Resource control?
I don’t want to use the word resource control. I have heard fiscal federalism, federalism, restructuring. It is only in Nigeria you hear all these coinages. All we want is good governance.
There is nothing like resource control for me. What we want is good governance. This President, Muhamadu Buhari for me is the one that has released so much money to states in the country. See the bailout funds. Look at the East West road, awarded by Obasanjo, our own man (Former President Jonathan) came on board, but he could not do it. The President was from here( Niger Delta), the Minister Niger Delta was also from here. So what are we doing to our selves?
Are you satisfied with the sharing formula in Nigeria
People are beginning to shift the narrative again. They have coined it again to devolution of powers. We know them. If the states are asking for more money, let them come out clear. In all, it will still come down to good governance as solution to our problems. The little you are given how are using it, is judicious? Most of the governors who got bail out money are out of the country on vacation.
Look at the South-South governors, what is wrong for them to put money together to float a railway from Obudu in Cross River State to Ofosu in Edo State, a high-speed train. If we can pump oil from Warri to Kaduna why can’t they use the same technology to pump water across the region? The technology is just on the shelve.
Our attitude must change for us to develop. It is not about restructuring.
I led a delegation to the North to renew that bond we have with the North. We need the alliance for development. We don’t have the number as South-South in a democracy.
You don’t threaten the people, that is not democracy. Democracy is by number. Look at the rice farm in Bayelsa State, built by the Shagari government wasting away. They are two there built by the Shagari government that can feed the whole of Africa, but they are just wasting away
Any comment on the quit notices from youths in the Niger Delta and the north
The vigour and strength they put in giving these quit notices should be reversed to build Nigeria. The quit notices are becoming monotonous. So I repeat, all I say is turn around the vigor behind the quit notices to build the country.
There is so much hate in the land, so we must stop it.