OBJ, IBB need deliverance says Evah

THE SUN Newspaer- Omoniyi Salaudeen

Comrade Joseph Evah, National Coordinator of Ijaw Monitoring Group, needs no introduction. Apart from his activities concerning agitations of the Ijaw nation, he has also carved a niche for himself for his caustic and unrestrained comments on government policies. Still in his usual element, he dismissed the impeachment threat against President Goodluck Jonathan by the National Assembly as mere rabble-rousing in this interview. Excerpts…

How do you see the impeachment threat against President Goodluck Jonathan by the National Assembly? Impeachment threat is not new to any Nigerian. Everybody is already used to the drama. But let me quickly add that impeachment is one of the constitutional responsibilities of the National Assembly if the executive misbehaves. It is there in the constitution. But the present National Assembly is not the type of institution that can threaten the executive over any misconduct or misbehaviour. Since 1998 to date, the National Assembly has remained the problem of this country.

And this is because 99.9 per cent of them were never elected by the Nigerian people, but rather imposed. Most of the members are gamblers and they have been gambling with the lives of Nigerians since 1999. So, it is a hopeless and irresponsible institution. Every Nigerian knows they are just looking for settlement with the impeachment threat.

They have no moral right to threaten the executive because most of them are contractors. So, none of them has the guts to point any accusing finger to the executive. Then, what is wrong in asking the president to give account of how the budget has been implemented, if you truly believe it is their constitutional responsibility? Of course, it is their constitutional responsibility to do so. But the point I am making is that they themselves are the problem we are facing in this country. For example, when the executive sends budget to the National Assembly, they will always review it in their own interest.

It is no hidden secret how the members used to call ministers and heads of parastatals for night meeting to negotiate certain terms in the budget. If we have a responsible anti-graft body like the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC), 99.5 per cent of the National Assembly members are supposed to be in jail. Why? Because they are the ones that always negotiate with ministries and parastatals how some items that are not in the original budget proposal are included. In the process, they cause delay in passage and implementation of the budget. That is why the Niger Delta Development Commission (NDDC) is not making any progress in the Niger Delta region.

There is no progress in the Niger Delta because those members of the state and National Assembly are all contractors. They always terrorize board members and parastatals to ensure their interests are included in the budget. Even when they get the contract, they will not execute it because they know that nobody will query them. If we are in a sane society like Ghana, 99.9 per cent of the National Assembly members are supposed to be in jail.

Then, you should also blame the executive for compromising its responsibility… (Cuts in). Why not? As we are talking now, settlement is going on between the executive and the legislators. Both the executive and legislature are the burden Nigerians are carrying in this 21st Century. If not for the Yoruba nation that mobilized Nigerians against the fuel subsidy, all the trial that is going on now would not have happened. It is the Yoruba nation that is saving this country. If not for the Yoruba that closed down the economy of Nigeria in the Southwest, by now, the National Assembly and the executive would have conspired against the people and transferred the suffering of the cabal, who never supplied fuel to the masses, to the masses. And the ongoing trial would not have come out. You would not have seen the son of Chairman of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) facing trial.

Over the years, Awolowo had built structures that helped the people from this part of the country to mobilise against bad governance. Because of the leadership training they have been exposed to over the years, they don’t care whether it is their father or mother that is power. The Yoruba nation is the most advanced among the ethnic groups that formed this country called Nigeria. If we are in a sane society, we are supposed to lay down all these legislators and flog all of them in the same way Jerry Rawlings flogged corrupt people in Ghana. It was because of what Rawlings did in Ghana that Ghanaians whom we sent away in 1982 are today driving away our people. This is the only country in the world that never learns from past mistakes.

So, what the National Assembly is doing is the normal madness in the Nigerian political system since 1999. They cannot do anything; they only need money from the executive. It is unfortunate. What do you make of the recent statement credited to Obasanjo and Babangida, saying there would be no more coups in Nigeria? They are indirectly telling you that military can take over. These guys were not born yesterday. Likewise the people of this country were also not born yesterday. So, we know them.

They cannot tell us their true colour. For the two of them to combine to issue such a statement, they are telling Nigerians that military can take over. That is what they are prophesying. Whatever they say in this world, they mean the opposite. Only those who don’t know them will take their matter seriously. Why would they ordinarily contemplate military take-over? Because they are confusionists; they are the ones giving bad advice and making things to stand still. They are always hungry for power. And it is in their blood. They inherited this lust for power from the military and using guns to harass people. Do you know the type of crimes these people committed during the civil war?

They should thank their God that they are in Nigeria. If they had been in Ghana, we would have forgotten about them because they are part of the problems of this country. Yet, they don’t want to repent. Every Friday, they are in the mosque; on Sundays, they are in the church. We need to call their pastors and Imams for their deliverance. They should be very careful about the kind of advice they give. Go to Zambia, you will see past leaders giving sincere advice to their upcoming leaders. But here, the moment they want something and they didn’t get it, they will make sure the whole system crumbles. And do you think any ambitious military officer would want to overthrow the present civilian government?

Let me tell you, it was the Southwest that saved the collapse of the present democratic dispensation during the late President Umar Musa Yar’Adua sickness and death. Every responsible person in this country knows. If not because of the Southwest led by the Wole Soyinkas of this world, the Bakares, the Femi Falanas and the Odumakins, who mobilized against the Yar’Adua cabal in the military, soldiers would have taken over this country. If they had succeeded, they would have told the international community that there was chaos in this country for them to intervene.

All the drama arising from overseas travel of Yar’Adua for medical treatment and the controversies as to whether or not he wrote a letter to the National Assembly was already pointing to that area. In fact, some interest groups within the cabal were already moving towards military take-over. It was the Southwest that mobilized against the military take-over and exposed how military officers were changed in the Villa and how Generals were being moved and all that.

If not, by now, we would have been under military rule. It was the fear of the reaction of the Southwest that checkmated the military intervention. In particular, it was the mobilization in the name of Save Nigeria Group (SGN), which some of us joined later, that saved the country from military take-over. So, nobody can insult us by telling us that military cannot take-over. We know their roots, we know their background. This has been their character over the years.

So, they are up to something again. But I will advise them to do what will bring peace and progress in this country. It is a shame that they are coming to public functions to issue such a statement. Are they not the ones that caused all these problems we are facing today? Don’t you see the present security situation in the country as impetus for military adventurists to attempt a take-over? I have advised the president on what to do, but he refused to take my advice.

I told him he should tell the Vice President to relocate to Borno to meet with Boko Haram people in the same way Yar’Adua asked him to relocate to the creeks to hold talks with the militant youths in the Niger Delta. If he goes and they see his humility, they will pipe down. Jonathan paddled canoe to Camp 5 to hold talks with the militants. Let Namadi Sambo too climb on camel or donkey to Bauchi or Borno to meet with the Boko Haram people. Alternatively, let Jonathan declare a full state of emergency in at least two or one state in the North. But he cannot direct his vice to relocate because of political reason.

They are fooling us by telling us they don’t know Boko Haram members. How can you say you don’t know your people who voted for you? I also told the president to relocate to Port Harcourt. Gen Ibrahim Babangida relocated from Lagos to Minna when the Okar coup plotters stormed Dodan Barrack. He felt his life was no longer safe in Lagos because 99.9 per cent of those who participated in the coup were from the South. President Goodluck Jonathan too, should relocate his office and working structures to either Port Harcourt or Yenagoa. If a military President could relocate his office to Minna because he saw danger, why is Jonathan wasting his time sitting in Abuja? He should relocate immediately.

He should order Vice President Namadi Sambo and the governors of the northern region to go and talk with Boko Haram. They are only paying lip service to this matter. Let the vice president go and sit down with the Boko Haram people in the same way Jonathan sat down with the Niger Delta people to resolve the agitation of militant youths in the area. Jonathan went to the creek to discuss with MEND. What is Sambo doing in the Villa? Let him relocate to Maiduguri or Kano. We are also challenging the President to declare a state of emergency in one of these northern states the way Obasanjo declared a state of emergency when there was tension in Jos. By the time he does that and all their political leaders have no money to share again, they will meet the Boko Haram people and resolve the issue.

That is the simple solution to the problem. America knows the government of this country is playing politics with Boko Haram members. Are you aware that the North has formed a reconciliation group to find a way of resolving the crisis? The Vice President is the political leader of the North. If he humbles himself and moves to Bauchi or Borno along with other prominent leaders of thought like Shehu Shagari, you will see a bit of compromise with the Boko Haram people. Jonathan came down to the level of militants by going to the Camp 5. It was Yar’Adua that directed him and he obeyed.

Let Sambo too try that humility angle and see if bombing will still go on. Why he is hiding in the Villa is my problem. How do you cope with the crowd waiting to see you? You cannot criticize people without proffering alternative. I don’t just talk on television to say I am a human rights activist. You can see the crowd of people waiting for me. Among them are pregnant women, disabled people and unemployed youths, who believe that the moment they see Joseph Evah their problems would be solved. These are the challenges we face here daily, but our political leaders don’t understand. Since Makoko problem came up, some of the affected people have been calling me, lamenting that they are homeless and needed help.

And on our part, we have been calling on Lagos State government to provide them relief. I don’t believe in just making noise on television; we must mix with the people and get their feelings. That is why sometimes when we talk, we talk like drunkards. But some people will think you have taken some drugs. It is because we have seen the pains of the people directly.

Some of the people you see here are from Ogbeha, the president’s home town. They cannot go to Aso Rock to see the president because he is always surrounded by armoured tanks; so, they come to me.


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