Twenty two years after the Kaiama Declaration of December 11, 1998, Ijaw people of the Niger Delta have continued to clamour for a better life.
Speaking with EDITH CHUKU in this interview, Kennedy Tonjo-West, National President of the Movement For The Survival of the Izon Ethnic Nationality, MOSIEND, bemoaned the state of underdevelopment in the Niger Delta, accusing leaders of milking the region of their oil and abandoning them to the mercy of degradation. He also spoke on the recent appointment of a sole administrator for the NDDC.
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It’s exactly 22 years today, of the Kaiama Declaration of December 11, 1998, where the Ijaw people demanded an end to 40 years of environmental damage and underdevelopment in the region…
(Cuts in) Yes, 2020, today, 11th of December is 22 years of Kaiama declaration, interestingly, that day happens to be a Friday too. 22 years ago, Ijaw youths met on a Friday, which was 11th of December, that is the exact day today.
How has the struggle for the supposed liberation of the Ijaw people fared?
If there is anything that is lacking in our country, that is lacking in our state, and lacking in our region, it’s leadership deficit, absence of leadership. People have used mundane approach, naïve and lopsided approach to administer leadership and so we will not get the dividends of leadership.
I want to urge them as leaders they are, take fundamental characteristics of leadership, every good leader, you must think 70 per cent of your followers, and 30 per cent of yourself. I want to charge that potential that God has deposited in you, that has been dormant, that you have not been using, I want to charge it to wake up and alive to its responsibilities, wake up and begin to take the vision, it’s right there in the Bible, I will pour out my spirit upon all flesh, that your daughters shall prophesy, and then your old men shall dream dreams, but your young men shall see vision.
Today, we have a country that we find ourselves, not because we wanted it, but because of the manipulative tendencies of the Europeans and all of that and where we see ourselves, and the Nigeria state have come to realize that with the way we are seeing it, with the controversy and the cheating, like they say, you cannot teach a man and cheat him for too long, as you are teaching him, he is learning, as you are cheating him too, he is learning, one day he will tell you I know this thing wey you dey do, because that fowl wey you dey pursue the mother na our hand eh dey. So therefore, there is a total buy in into Ijaw nation, into Niger Delta, they want to have a grab it all mentality, take everything immediately and get out of this place.
When you say they, who…?
(Cuts in) It was when we were fighting that some of our brothers called the multi-national firms and said, are you not seeing these people, I think they are fighting, you said it’s okay but they are kidnapping you people, I want you people to write on your pages, to your embassies that Niger Delta is a red alert zone, don’t go there, look at Lagos, everybody come to Lagos, Lagos is no man’s island, so nobody can claim, bring your business there, and they took their time and collected all the businesses, irrespective of the fact that the cause we were fighting was genuine, but that’s not what they want to see because na dog dey chop dog. We are all here, we saw ourselves as Nigerians and everybody needs to do something to get away and to get his freedom, and that is how they took all. I want you to know this, we have also accused the Nigerian government when the companies went to Abuja, to Lagos and then to Abuja, they did not use legislative backing to go there, but now they ask them to come back they want to use legislative backing to bring them, that is not possible, telling us that you need the national assembly to impress on the multi-nationals to come here, it is a lie from the pit of hell.
But let’s also ask ourselves, these people na play them dey play, abi them know know? Them know everything, the oligarchies want to milk the Niger Delta dry, I want to tell you today and I’m saying it emphatically that in as much as we want them to privatize whatever that they said they want to privatize NNPC, the Niger Delta governors must have the first bite of that privatization,.
We are totally against giving NPA to Dangote. I want you to say it and say it clear, if Dangote dares take NPA that has been a hotbed for our survival, and they took it on concession, send many people to their early graves, when you want to build the best African refinery you took it to Lagos, and the same refinery that you took to Lagos you are going to milk us dry by taking the crude so that tomorrow we will have problems of flood, we will have problems of degradation here but you took it to Lagos, MOSIEND will close down NPA.
I am saying it clear that MOSIEND will close down NPA, MOSIEND will sack Dangote from NPA, take it, quote it anywhere, MOSIEND will mobilize and will make sure we shut down NPA.
In Bonny for instance, Bonny has JTF, Bonny has Navy Base, Bonny has police headquarter, Bonny has Airforce Base but how come that the Bonny people are dying every day in sea piracy? That means that the military can no longer do their work, of course we are accusing them of abdication of responsibility. They have allowed the Bonny people to die, allowing the continual molestation of the Bonny people so that LNG, so that Mobil, so that Shell will take them serious, let me ask, who is the military guiding, the people or the facility, which is more important? Tell me, which is more important? Why is the JTF, why is the Navy, why is the Police and the Airforce in Bonny not doing anything to salvage Bonny?
I am using this medium to call on the minister of petroleum, to call on the minister of state for petroleum, to call on the GMD NNPC, to make open, we want to see the list of companies that have the oil wells around our community, we want to know them because most of them have flouted corporate social responsibility and memorandum of understanding and they’ve been milking us dry.
We want to say this is December and we want to call on President Muhammadu Buhari, that the interim management committee of NDDC ends now. NDDC itself has a democratic outlook, the people must interface with the state rep, it is the people that will tell the state rep this is what we want in our community for them to transmit same to the headquarters and then it forms a budget.