He is the coordinator of the Ijaw Monitoring Group and has been seriously involved in the Ijaw struggle from the beginning. He is a major voice in the Niger Delta. At the moment, he is worried about the state of affairs in the NDDC.
Joseph Evah spoke with some journalists on the NDDC leadership issue and called on all leaders of the APC in the region to call the Niger Delta minister, Senator Godswill Akpabio to order. TNN was there too.
As a major stakeholder in the Niger Delta, what do you make of what is going on now at the NDDC?
Well, you know that right from the time of Olusegun Obasanjo as president, whatever is given to the Niger Delta, even the oil companies, whatever they want to give to us, that is our own right, we will have a third force. We will always have an unseen hand that will want to cause confusion. So, we are always at alert, seriously, to monitor and follow-up.
The NDDC, we thank former president Obasanjo for coming up with this idea of the NDDC and over the years, we know that a lot of forces are interested in what is going on in the NDDC. We have followed them up, and sometimes raised the alarm, especially the amount of money that the federal government is owing the NDDC. Even when our son was the president, our traditional rulers took the federal government to court and the matter is still in court, that they should pay their lawful contributions to the NDDC. Even the federal government, we harassed them.
Now, with the coming of Buhari, the leadership of NDDC under acting capacity, if we have people who are acting and acting, the normal way of them going about what they are supposed to do, cannot happen. If people are always on acting capacity, their powers are reduced and they are limited, unless they are lawfully inaugurated.
As it is now, a new interim management committee has come on board and this is happening about two months after the last acting managing director came on board.
What was announced about three days ago is totally unacceptable. Everybody in the Niger Delta knows very well that this is another confusion. Everybody was shocked. The handwriting on the wall shows another confusion. I don’t know who is advising the president on this one, when the president himself has already sent names of the new board to the senate. We are all waiting for the outcome of the senate screening. The president has sent names of board members to the senate. Now, we are hearing of interim management committee. All this are just confusion left and right and it is unacceptable to the people of the Niger Delta. I even thought there was a mistake somewhere, until I saw it on the Channels news. Unfortunately, this confusion is coming from the Niger Delta politicians. It is not the president. Those people, immediately we discover their character, we will confront them.
Are you saying you are going to confront the minister of Niger Delta?
I have said it times without number, I don’t know whether it is the shock of his defeat during the last election, maybe the shock of his defeat is still disturbing him. But we are praying that the shock of his defeat in his state should not make him…maybe it is emotional problem of his defeat. We are still sympathising with him. He had said he was not defeated, so he is in court. So, why is he transferring his emotional problems on the Niger Delta? You know the president was saying that the Niger Delta minister told him that in the NDDC, people will just carry sand and put somewhere in the name of a road. Or, is he exposing himself that that is what he did in Akwa Ibom? We are telling the APC leaders in the Niger Delta to call Akpabio to order. Maybe he wants to diminish what was left of the honour he still retained. He is causing confusion. If you go back to history, those who caused confusion in the Niger Delta never ended well . We will not allow him to cause more confusion. It is becoming clear that the minister just wants to embarrass himself. He wants to tell lies and blackmail others in order to remain relevant; he is even reducing his popularity in the Niger Delta. We know people who are in the Niger Delta with integrity. We felt that the president brought him in, just to pity him because of his defeat. He should not be arrogant. Those of us who have been in this struggle right from the days of Ken Saro-Wiwa, we cannot allow him, after the president gave him this appointment just to compensate for his sweeping defeat, he is now trying to be arrogant. We will place him where he belongs. He is the one causing all this confusion. He cannot claim to be wiser than those who pitied him because he was defeated. He was defeated and disgraced. We didn’t tell Mr president not to appoint him as minister. It shows that we sympathised with him on his defeat. If he had won his election, would he have been made minister? We sympathised with him and thanked the president for giving him this appointment, he now wants to be wiser than us, he should be very careful.
Would you say you are disappointed in Akpabio’s actions?
We are totally disappointed in Akpabio. He does not want to appreciate how we sympathised with his defeat. He should not think that we don’t know what we are doing. The president will listen to us more than him, those of us who are activists, the president will listen to us. He has to be careful.
Are you people contemplating a meeting with the president?
We are sending a message to the president and Mr president needs to remind Akpabio that ‘this appointment given to you, the Niger Delta activists did not reject the appointment, therefore consult widely before taking decisions.’ We are also telling other APC leaders in the Niger Delta, that they have a role to play, not for them to say that we are confronting the president who appointed one of them as minister, by the time we start. I am calling on all the APC leaders from the Niger Delta to call Akpabio to order. When NDDC was created, Akpabio was not governor of Niger Delta state. It was Victor Attah and he was one of those that made Obasanjo to create the NDDC. He did not know how the NDDC was created. Obong Attah is one of the heroes of the NDDC creation. So, he should not come and be jumping about as if he knows the history of the NDDC. Other APC leaders should call Akpabio to order because the way he is going, the emotional problem he is having over his defeat, he is taking it too far and we will not allow him to come and act as if he knows about the creation of the NDDC.
The way things are going in the NDDC now, what are your fears?
I believe that other APC leaders will call Akpabio to order. He told the senate a few days ago, that the capital releases for the Niger Delta ministry are not in order. He should go and manage the ministry of Niger Delta. I have said it before, let me say it again, that if you add NDDC to Akpabio in the Niger Delta ministry, he will collapse. Akpabio’s health is important to us. If he has good advisers, they will tell him that ‘Joseph Evah loves you.’ He is not a young man. If Akpabio adds NDDC to the troubles of the Niger Delta ministry, he will collapse in office. Let him concentrate and manage the affairs of the Niger Delta ministry that is already dead. All the signals that the ministry of Niger Delta is not working are there. The whole world knows. Akpabio cannot be jumping from pillar to post in the name of working for Niger Delta. He should face the Niger Delta ministry and revive the ministry. He is taking his arrogance too far. He wants to use lies to become friendly with the president.