*Hold northern leaders responsible for worsening insecurity
*Nigeria at war with itself
*Delta State yet to honour its founding fathers
Alhaji Mumakai-Unagha was a presidential aspirant in the 2019 general election on the plank of the ruling All Progressives Congress APC.
In this interview, the legal practitioner expressed fear that President Muhammadu Buhari’s eight years may end up a monumental waste unless he acts fast. He also spoke on how to develop Delta State.
By Clifford Ndujihe
You seem critical of this government your party controls. Why is it so?
Most politicians are bootlickers, they do not have the courage to face reality which some of us don’t have the shocks to absorb.
Take it or leave it. If you see the enthusiasm and zeal with which we embraced Buhari when he came, it was as if he was the messiah but the expectation of the masses was not only turned down, but also buried.
I couldn’t have imagined that an army general, known for fighting wars would not be able to address security challenges. As party faithful, we welcomed his economic and development policy, but the policy was like a beautiful bride, well dressed without character. To give it a better narrative, the government took off well with high expectations but the reverse has been the case now.
The integrity of Mr. President we know him for has fast gone down. In 2014, some of us almost sold our houses and cars to prosecute the election because of the love we have for him. It has been so painful considering the present state of the country.
This is a party where the president does not know the foundation members or those who stick out their neck for the party. He did not know if members are dying of hunger to the exclusion of a few, all in the name of integrity. Boards and parasatals he constituted since 2016 are still there. Worst, non performing ministers are also still there doing nothing.
Those who asked Mr. President to re-contest for second term may be regretting by now. They saw his shortcoming but compelled him to contest for their selfish interest. I can tell you, Buhari was not prepared for the second term of office. Some of us, his faithful, who can trek from Badagry to Maiduguri for the love we have for him, cannot even do so from the Eagle square to the gate of Aso Villa.
In the first tenure of Mr. President, his eye glass, Agbada even his cap was a threat to corrupt Politicians, making them to flee the country. Sooner or later, all went down the drain. The Economic and Financial Crimes Commission, EFCC, became the centre of corruption where officers were on pay list of those who stole the country blind. Power play took the centre-stage over who controls the soul of these agencies. However, Mr. President still has the opportunity to redeem his image.
On how to tackle insecurity in the country.
I have said it times without number that northern leaders, past and present, are responsible for the current security challenges and they should be held responsible. I know they will challenge this position but that is the true situation and I stand to be corrected or challenged. The borders in the North are so porous giving room to all kinds of people to move in freely. The military should conduct internal investigation on itself; they will discover that most of the personnel are either from Chad or Niger Republic.
As a matter of fact, they constitute 20 per cent of the voting strength in the North. The killing going in the North, no true Muslim will carry out such heinous crime, let alone killing his brother. The security agencies should purge themselves and genuinely carry out search light into their activities.
In all the para-military agencies in the country, there are so many people from Chad and Niger recruited unknowingly. They claim that they are from the North. Nigeria is at war with itself. The North that used to be safe haven for all has turned hell fire. I, therefore, appeal to Mr. President to bring back the dignity and hounour brought by the Sadauna of Sokoto, the Prime Minister of Nigeria, Abubakar Tafawa Balawa. Unless that is done the eight years administration of President Muhammadu Buhari will be a waste.
How do you see the development recorded in Delta since the state was created in 1991?
Not satisfied compared to the allocations coming to the state. Twenty nine years after the creation, we are still battling with the problem of socio-political and economic development. I did not expect or believe that the state will still be foot-dragging. Major cities which by now ought to have been transformed to El-dorado are still slums. Take a drive trough Warri, Sapele, Ughelli, Agbor as well as the state capital; they are still tales of woe of under development. The social lives of the people are nothing to write home about.
There is a gradual but steady erosion and corrosion of the people’s psyche. This was not what we anticipated when we were clamouring for the state to be created. It is sad to note that the state parades a high social economic profile and despite its enormous and sophisticated oil sector, the economy of the state reflects an extreme disparity and depression.
Our youths are more frustrated as there is no hope of things getting better. The number of our youths roaming the streets is so alarming that the state is pregnant. Delta State seems conquered by the ruling class. What we see every day in our national dailies are all praise singers, traceable to hunger. Political sycophancy has become the order of the day. If you doubt, go through some of the villages in the state, it is an exercise in a pathetic sightseeing of hungry looking children and old parents afflicted with malnutrition. We fought so hard to get the state created; one would have thought the state would be witnessing rapid growth.
How would you describe the performance of the urban development committees set up by the State Government sometime ago?
I don’t see the existence of any committee, as they have failed. If there is such committee, it is either the committee has gone into comatose or oblivion. For example, the various urban cities are slums, dirt everywhere. I want to particularly make reference to Warri and its environment, it is a sorrow state. There is no city we can be proud off. Keke NAPEP has taken over the cities making them look unkempt. I am of the view that the state government should wake up these committees or replace them with more vibrant members. Delta State is yearning for development.
You said successive governments in Delta State have not been fair to you and others, how do you mean?
Emphatically yes, they are unfair to some of us. During the movement for the state creation, I was a member of the committee, nominated by the Former President General of the Urhobo Progress Union, UPU, late Dr. Fredrick Esiri. We were five members that represented Urhobo in the committee- Late Benjami Okumagba who later became the Orosue of Okere Urhobo Kingdom; Chief Smith Okwarume; Chief Akpedeye; Chief Cassidy of Ughelli, and I.
On the side of the Itsekiri were late O.P Edodo, late Chief Begho and Chief Jemide. The Ijaw were represented by Chief Oki of Patani and others. There was a super permanent secretary, late Orewa from Agbor, Chief Onyeobi and others. The representatives from the Delta North opted for lower Niger state as against the overwhelmingly wishes of Deltans.
The Delta North delegates came with a formula that for them to key in, the headquarter should be cited in Ughelli or Orerokpe, the name of the state should be Lower Niger State. This did not receive the blessing of other ethnic nationalities. During consultations tour, we visited all the nooks and crannies of the state to seek the support of Deltans.
Our Delta North representatives gave us assurance that they had connection to the then head of state, General Ibrahim Babangida. We prepared a joint memorandum with headquarter at Ughelli. Unknowingly to those of us in Delta Central and South, Delta North delegates prepared their separate memorandum with Delta State and Asaba as Headquarter. We went home to rest hoping that the state would be created as generally agreed with headquarter at Ughelli.
I rushed to Abuja in anticipation of its creation with the capital at Ughelli. I was in my hotel room when the state was announced with Headquarters at Asaba. I fell sick for a whole week. I never anticipated that the state headquarters will be far away. During the consultation tour of the area, there was no loss of lives but hectic as a section does not want to be part of the proposed state. I headed the media committee which I did perfectly, and to God be the glory, it was created. Since the state was created no successive government considered it worthy to honor those who laboured for it, instead they have been busy acquiring wealth for themselves, their family and those yet unborn. If government can honour athletes that did the state proud, I see no reason those of us that laboured for the state to be created should not be honoured.
On how to address the security challenges facing Delta State
Just as Nigerians are calling for a change in the security architecture in the country, so also it is in Delta State. The state security apparatus should be overhauled immediately. Delta State has not witnessed this high rate of robbery, banditry and kidnapping in recent time. No day passes that there is no report of killing, armed robbery, kidnapping and communal crisis. If you see the character of people trooping into the state, you will be worried and weep for the state. They are penetrating very fast which the state governments should take note.
Recently, the state governor through the instrumentality of the Delta State Independent Electoral Commission created 34 additional wards in the state. Of the 34 wards, none was given to Delta Central on the excuse that he wants to balance the number of wards in the three senatorial districts.
He also upgraded three tertiary institutions into full-fledged universities, what is your position?
The Governor is unfair to the Urhobo Nation; it seems he has scores to settle with the Urhobo. The reason he gave that he wanted to balance the wards is not tenable, and not in consonance with the basic facts.
The Governor needs to be reminded that states, local governments and wards are created based on geographical size, population and economic derivation. If the reason or reasons given is anything to go bye, with due respect to him, he should work hard to balance the Northern and Southern dichotomy where the North have more states than the South.
The population demographic and size of Ughelli North, Uvwie, Sapele, Abraka, Udu are equivalent to some states in Nigeria. Delta Central deserves more wards more than any Local Government in the state because of the size and population. While the dust of the new wards is yet to settle down, he upgraded three territory institutions to university status for Delta North and South senatorial districts. This is an open challenge and declaration of dispute between the people and his government.