Eshanekpe Israel, a.k.a Akpodoro played a pivotal role in the disarmament of Niger Delta militants and the dislodgment of the Niger Delta Avengers, It was Akpodoro, who led ex-militants to mobilize Niger Delta support of President Muhammadu Buhari in 2015. In this no-holds-barred interview, the former warlord, who said in the spirit of fairness, it’s time for an Urhobo to become governor of Delta State in 2023, also spoke on what he called humongous and unbridled stealing in the oil and gas industry. Excerpts:
What’s your view about the 2023 general elections as it concerns Delta State?
The only view I have is that Urhobo governorship in 2023 remains non-negotiable. On this plank, every Urhobo stands and there’s no going back no matter what those who play God think or do, a governor of Urhobo extraction must be sworn in, May 29, 2023, going forward. That’s my stand.
How do you intend to achieve this considering agitation by other ethnic nations particularly from Delta South Senatorial district who think it’s their turn to rule?
In as much as every human being, nations alike have their franchise to aspire to any position in democratic politics, I am telling you with a mathematical exactitude that a governor of Urhobo extraction will be sworn in on May 29, 2023, notwithstanding what enemies of Urhobo nation are planning. We have the numerical capacity to win election in the state, Urhobo nation have the reach, we have our allies in Isoko, Ndokwa and Itsekiri nations, winning the election with the support of all lovers of Urhobo land will be a child’s play because it’s our turn to rule.
Talking about turn to rule, some political personalities are saying the rotational arrangement is no more feasible since power has rotated within the senatorial tripod stand of the state and that it’s time the gubernatorial context is thrown open to all, what’s your take?
That’s a minority view because we all know that power rotation is the vehicle of equity and Fairplay on which all Deltans are riding albeit happily and that has promoted peace in the state since the founding fathers of the state in their wisdom set the rotational principle in motion. Whosoever is saying power rotation agreement has outlived its usefulness is an enemy of peace and such persons will set a dangerous precedence.
Still on rotational agreement…
The rotational agreement is healthily in force and it’s on that premise an Urhobo governor will emerge by popular mandate. I’m not talking about any political platform; all the platforms will reasonably field Urhobo candidates for the gubernatorial contest because every party wants to win the election and only a candidate of Urhobo extraction can win convincingly in 2023 in Delta State.
Do you think your position is a popular one among your kinsmen, don’t you think there are Urhobo, who may be aspiring to be running mates to candidates from other tribes?
Any Urhobo man or woman aspiring to be running mate to a candidate outside Urhobo land is a saboteur and will be treated as such in the end.
This is why I advocate absolute unity among Urhobo political elites. They should close ranks, work together against our common transducers who constitute themselves as the godfathers and deciders of the political fate of our people. 2023 should be a unifying factor for all Urhobo people home and abroad and our well-wishers. Urhobo nation will put her best forward to be sworn in as governor that year.
Which is your political party?
Like I said earlier, I am not putting any political party or candidate forward but, any political party that fields Urhobo candidate is my party.
What’s your take on the politics of the Urhobo Progressives Union, UPU, especially as it concerns adoption of multiple candidates, factionalisation crisis towards election years?
UPU is the rallying point for all Urhobo people both home and in the diaspora. It has no power to adopt any candidate or align itself to any political party. The UPU is our clearinghouse that must protect the interests of all and not just one person against the other. In 2023, UPU must be seen as described and abstain from the condemnable manner of adopting candidates.
It should play its role as the custodian of the culture and tradition of the Urhobo people and also protect our national interest. UPU is one and factionalisation will never be again. Whoever will factionalise UPU is an enemy of the Urhobo nation and such a person and his family will be cursed.
As an ex-militant leader who championed the course of enthroning the APC in the Niger Delta region, how are you faring at the moment?
My group, the National Coalition of Niger Delta Ex-Agitators, NCNDE-A and I are not faring better even, our economic conditions have nosedived into the abyss because we supported a man who has no belief in rewarding supporters and his allies.
I met him in 2013 and promised him my support which I willingly gave him but he rewarded the people on the other side who fought us in our crusade for the President. Our condition is terrible now because we lost friends and the goodwill of those we enjoyed hitherto.
President Buhari to us is a bad omen but that’s not to say we aren’t supporting him further to at least succeed because our support and prayers brought him to power it’s too late in the day to deny him.
You were reportedly appointed the Chairman of the National Task-force on Petroleum products smuggling, adulteration, pipelines vandalism and oil theft by the Association of Nigeria Refineries Petroleum Marketers (ANRPM), how are you playing your trade-in this direction?
It’s simple; commitment driven by absolute patriotism and solidarity is the vehicle in which I chair the body. Having been in the saddle long before now, seeing my track record, this group decided to appoint me as the Chairman of its national task force.
We have inaugurated the Imo and Delta states chapters and we are trudging further to all the 36 states of the federation and our mandate is to end criminalities and crimes in the downstream oil sector in the country.
The corruption in both the upstream and downstream oil sector is huge but we are putting machinery in place to tame the criminals.
How do you intend to achieve it?
In as much as I won’t reveal our security strategies in the public domain, we are working with all segments of the security apparatus in the country to achieve the aim of bringing an end to sundry crimes in the distribution chain of the Nigerian petroleum sector so as to positively impact on our national economic well being.
With the huge stealing in that stratum of our petroleum industry, I call on all the critical stakeholders in the Nigerian petroleum industry to rise to the occasion by supporting the ANRPM in its onerous task. The NNPC, NPDC, NIMASA, NNDC, DPR and other agencies of the Federal Government to support us to win the fight against illegal oil bunkering and sundry crimes in that sector.
President Muhammadu Buhari should remember to empower those of us who worked for him in 2015 and 2019. My team and I suffered for him, but he skipped us to patronise members of other parties and his sworn enemies because they had the monies to buy recommendations from the President’s handlers and jobbers around the presidency.
I don’t have money to pay like those who built war chests from past administrations to be qualified for appointment through the racketeers and profiteers in the presidency but, I deserve patronage more than anyone from the Niger Delta region.
I deserve an appointment by this government; the President should do the needful. Even though the President’s men have been doing their best to correct the anomalies, their best is not good enough until I am appointed by the government I worked for.
Who among all the appointees of this government from the Niger Delta region condemned the Niger Delta Avengers, NDA when they were destabilizing this administration? Who among the neo Buharists in the Niger Delta region, apart from few who had no choice as it then came up openly to support the then General Buhari in 2015? We are waiting for last-minute appointments by this Federal Government.