Niger Delta activist, Comrade Joseph Evah has called on President Goodluck Jonathan not to foreclose on dialogue in his options when dealing with Boko Haram.
Evah advised that President Jonathan toe the line of his former boss, Umar Yaradua and send Vice President Namadi Sambo to the Northeast to negotiate with Boko Haram leaders.
Evah recollected that Yaradua sent Jonathan to the creeks to negotiate a treaty with Niger Delta militants. The result of that effort is the peace in the Niger Delta which continues till today.
In an interview with SUN, Evah also called on President Jonathan to reconcile with “his godfather”, former President Olusegun Obasanjo and slammed those confidants in the Villa who were giving the President wrong advice.
How far is it true that some prominent Ijaw leaders have been making underground moves to reconcile President Goodluck Jonathan with former President Olusegun Obasanjo as a result of the alleged frosty relationship between the two following the letter written by Obasanjo to Jonathan sometime ago?
Some of us were not happy about what happened between the two that time. It is unfortunate that some political sycophants and jobbers have been trying to drive a wedge between Obasanjo and Jonathan. These people that have been trying to cause disaffection between the President and Obasanjo are enemies of Jonathan.
They don’t love Jonathan. If Jonathan and Obasanjo are having problems, these people should have made genuine efforts to solve the problem. Obasanjo is supposed to be Jonathan’s godfather. Without Obasanjo, Jonathan will not be where he is today. For those who may have short memory, let me go down the memory lane to remind them that it was Obasanjo that dragged Jonathan from being a state governor to become vice-president.
We know what Jonathan told us Ijaw leaders at the residence of Chief Ebitimi Banigo, how he sought our advice on the new political development and how we encouraged him to take up the challenge with a promise that we will all not only rally round him, but also mobilized support for him and the presidential candidate of Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), the late President Umaru Musa Yar’Adua.
Ijaw leaders present at that meeting gave me a taste of marching order to mobilize Niger-Deltans and all non-Niger-Deltans resident in the South-west to be present at Tafawa Balewa Square in Lagos to garner support for Yar’Adua/Jonathan ticket.
We are all human beings, and nobody is above mistakes, and again, it is normal for human beings to quarrel, and disagree, but again it is normal to reconcile. If at all there is any quarrel between Obasanjo and Jonathan, people should try to reconcile them instead of giving wrong advice to Jonathan.
Eventually, when Jonathan was sworn in as vice-president, I mobilized Niger-Delta people to storm Ota farm to express our appreciation to Obasanjo for giving our son, Jonathan, the opportunity to become elected vice-president of Nigeria for the first time in the history of this country.
Despite the fact that it was Nigerians that voted for Yar’Adua, and Jonathan, we must not forget the fact that it was somebody that God used as an instrument to ensure that Jonathan emerged as the vice-presidential candidate of PDP.
For us, that is those of us that are referred to as minorities in Nigeria, to become either a president or vice-president would be a herculean task without the support of an incumbent president, and this is why we remain grateful to Obasanjo. God used Obasanjo to make Jonathan vice-president. So, today if both of them are having problem, it is for those who love Jonathan to see that the two reconcile.
They should have visited Obasanjo for reconciliation, but if Obasanjo refused to grant them audience or snub reconciliatory moves, then you leave him to God.
If all these friends of the President truly love him, they would have looked for ways to get somebody like the former United States President, Jimmy Carter, who is close to Obasanjo to reconcile the two. I believe that if somebody like Carter mediates between the two, there will be a genuine reconciliation, between Obasanjo and Jonathan.
Have you tried to make a suggestion to the president along this line?
It is unfortunate that often it is difficult to have access to Mr President. For those of us who want to give genuine advice to Mr President, some aides surrounding him have been frustrating us.
These political jobbers and chameleons have held Jonathan hostage. They won’t allow you to have access to him. Even if president gives you appointment, when you arrive the Villa to keep the appointment, these people will tell you the president is sleeping.
When they know that you want to come and give the president genuine advice, they will tell you the president has just taken panadol and that you can’t see him for two or three days. But if you insisted that the president asked you to come, they will tell you that the president had just taken panadol and that there is nothing they can do. Many fake and selfish people are surrounding the president.
But I sincerely believe that if we can have Jimmy Carter to mediate between Jonathan and Obasanjo, there will be a head way because both Jonathan and Obasanjo will be able to tell each other the bitter truth.
The current state of insecurity has become a serious source of concern with bombings all over the place, what is the way out of the quagmire? How do we tackle the Boko Haram insurgency?
From the day one, especially after the bombing of the United Nations Office, the Police Headquarters, and the Catholic Church in Abuja, I advised President Jonathan about the way out, but unfortunately he ignored it, and look at the situation in the country today.
What kind of advice?
I told the president that he doesn’t have to pretend or be gentlemanly about this issue. I told him to ask the Vice-President, Namadi Sambo, to relocate to Borno, Adamawa or Yobe States the way the late President Yar’Adua asked Jonathan who was then the country’s Vice-President, to enter the creeks to go and talk to Niger-Delta militants who were then taking expatriates hostage as a result of the pollution of Niger-Delta through oil exploration.
Why can’t Jonathan toe a similar line by asking Sambo to go and talk to these Boko Haram people. Sambo speaks and understand their language.
But surprisingly Jonathan didn’t take this advice, and this is why you see Namadi Sambo sitting down comfortably in Abuja sitting over contract awards. You see him holding files, smiling and running all over Aso Rock dealing with contractors when he is actually supposed to be talking with Boko Haramleaders in their strongholds in Damaturu or any other part of the North.
Up till now as we are talking, Namadi Sambo is in the Villa. If Sambo had relocated to any of these northern states where Boko Haram has been terrorizing the people, we would not be in this situation.
I also told Jonathan to declare a full state of emergency in one of these states like Obasanjo did during his time, and there would be sanity as other state governors there in the North would sit up and do everything possible to checkmate the insurgents.
But some people I believe told Jonathan that that would be unconstitutional, but I want to ask those people who are saying that such a step would be unconstitutional that when Yar’Adua failed to transmit a letter to the National Assembly to confirm Jonathan as the Acting President in his absence, did Yar’Adua follow the constitution? We came up with a document that was never in our constitution, the doctrine of necessity which later enabled Jonathan to step in as Acting President in order to ensure peace and prevent a constitutional crisis.
So, whatever step that is taken to ensure peace, you take it. You use any necessary means to achieve peace. If Jonathan had declared a full state of emergency by sacking all the entire political class in one of the northern states, other governors would have sat up and stop all these political Boko Haram they are doing. But now it is too late for Jonathan to declare full state of emergency in these states. It can’t work again.
At the outset, I told Jonathan that this Boko Haram insurgency is political, but he didn’t take me seriously. I told him that those advising him not to declare full state of emergency in one of these states are his enemies, that the problem would fester if he didn’t take drastic action, but Jonathan chose to listen to these people who are his enemies.
Today, all manner of people are calling Jonathan names. They are hurling insults at him, and the criticism of him has gone further higher following the abduction of those schoolgirls in Chibok. But unfortunately all those people that Jonathan wants to please including Namadi Sambo and those governors are all enjoying and smiling. The heat is not on them but on Jonathan. But I told Jonathan that he should declare a full state of emergency in one of these states, but he refused to do so because he doesn’t want to hurt those people who are creating problems for him.
Now, the whole campaign of Bring Back Our Girls is on Jonathan’s head. They are asking him to bring back these girls, and nobody remembers that it is supposed to be a team work where other aides of Jonathan also have roles to play. When Niger-Delta was on fire during the period militants were making trouble, it was all the governors, and political leaders in the area that mobilized, intervened and resolved the crisis. But have the northern elders and political leaders done so to Boko Haram? They have done nothing. But now you see everybody saying that Jonathan should visit Chibok, that is an insult. Did Yar’Adua visit the creeks when the Niger-Delta was in crisis? No, he sent Jonathan who was then his deputy to go into the creeks.
Everywhere you go now, people are saying that Jonathan is afraid of Chibok. Some are saying that he is afraid that if he goes there, the abducted girls and the Boko Haram people will attack him, what kind of nonsense is this? Yar’Adua never smelt the creeks, so why should Jonathan now go to Chibok?