Peter Igbefa, president of the IYC spoke to TNN on last week’s occupation and shut down of NDDC offices in protest against the refusal of the federal government to inaugurate a board for the commission. He also disclosed how he was offered bribe money to cancel the protest.
A meeting with the minister of Niger Delta Affairs was fixed and later cancelled. You were to be part of that meeting. What happened?
It was a wrong thing for him to start looking for how to drag people from the region to Abuja, instead of considering giving people that sense of, especially that kind of show of respect to bring them for meeting, when you can actually bring the meeting here. It would have even been better having the meeting here instead of doing Abuja, Abuja. It costs less for him to fly down here than flying everybody that is a stakeholder down there.
IYC was invited?
By virtue of the announcement it covered IYC, but of course I wouldn’t go. IYC was specifically mentioned there, but I wouldn’t honour such meeting. Our society is just funny, but between my conscience and God, I’m satisfied. That’s the basic thing. While we owe men some commitment, I think the highest commitment is the one we owe to God and our conscience. So, once our conscience is at rest; men do little to protect you, but God is the one who is more concerned about your life. As far as I’m concerned, I’ve not compromised in any form but I’m still being blackmailed. In fact, the people who sponsor my blackmail, they are very committed to the blackmail, but we don’t get discouraged. I have a personal decision on all of these; instead of me to compromise, I will resign because none of these positions would have been given to me by men in their willingness if it were not God. It’s God that made me IYC president and He chose to use the men He decided to use. But there are people who do not believe in good leadership, they were against me from day one and they were looking for my downfall and I’m very committed to keeping faith with good works and I trust God. My earnest prayer is for this board to be inaugurated.
From Akpabio’s body language…(cuts in)
He’s not ready, from his body language, he’s not ready and only he can tell the truth about what exactly is about. From his body language, he’s not ready and it’s only him that knows the deep secret about this unwillingness to constitute the board. Maybe they’re compromised because of their previous activity or whatever that makes him to continue to play on their sensitivity, but I know that there are still a whole lot of people from the region who desire this board, whose earnest desire is this board; if not for anything, we could just consider the larger section of youths in this region and give in for the board. I don’t know what makes this board quite complex to come. You see, that some of them who watch some of the things that people at the top also know, they will tell you, it’s just one man who decides not to allow the board come. I’ve put it in the place of God, I’ve handed it over to God, I’ve committed these thing seriously to God, I have.
What do you make of Tompolo’s Ultimatum?
I just know that as it were, Tompolo is also somebody who is committed to his decisions. I wouldn’t know the kind of pressure they will bring on him; I trust that he will stand by his words. I trust that very strongly, he will stand by his words. We’re hoping too that God will give him the grace.
Has there been pressure on you to surrender?
Yes, there was.
To what extent?
My brother it’s just the grace of God oo. It’s the grace of God if not, there’s no man. By the grace of God, it is sufficient.
Were you promised money, were you promised other material things (cuts in)
Definitely, it’s not everything that I will talk about. Definitely, definitely!
Who offered the money?
My brother, let me save it. Sincerely I won’t do….. If I follow the level of blackmail against me, a lot of people will not have face. But I won’t do that.
A lot of people including Akpabio?
Let me just leave them to their fate, I pray that God takes over everything. God will take over and help us have this board, but I can tell you the truth, if it is right, if it is through compromise, I will rather resign as IYC president.
Let’s talk about your reported kidnap…
Yes, it was nothing much to consider, it was just the protest. So all of these conspiracy plans against me was to ensure that I did not commence that action, I’m not dragging money with anybody, I’m not dragging land with anybody, I’m not dragging contract with anybody so those were not the premise for those guys to do what they did. You can see that they still have conscience knowing that what I was calling for was also their own desire. But such commitment, just as I told you the way I committed myself to God, they have also committed themselves too. There was no way they could not take any step at all. God is in control, just like the day of my accident, God is in control the same way he was in control in this process.
So who kidnapped you?
Of course they were young men. If I had the privilege of seeing their faces, of course that would have been a different thing because I would have mentioned, but they were young men.
So where did they take you to? And how were you released?
They took me round and round I never knew where they headed until they abandoned me in the bush and every effort to convince me to do a video for them, calling off the protest, I didn’t do it. That’s what I told you, it’s a matter of conscience. I didn’t heed to it, they threatened this, threatened that, it’s my conscience. You want to take me against my conscience. I have a commitment of life, my mother because things were difficult in life, they took me to the altar, and they sacrificed me to God. So I know I have a hand over my head. One, primarily I’m not carried away by material things, I can desire it like any other person can desire, but they can’t have control over me because those who were around me when I was coming up, when God started blessing me small small, will tell you that every vehicle I had, no matter the brand is special to me, no amount of money is special to me. They couldn’t just lure me into it, they couldn’t do it.
How much were you offered?
At least specifically, there was one of N50 million, that was cash. But like I told you, it’s not good to talk about these things because one, I would not be instrumental to somebody going down; I will just want to allow people to their fate. Today look at me being blackmailed that I have taken money here and there and I say whoever that has given me, go to the open and say it. For me, I could be the sacrificial lamb, it’s not a problem, once anybody can justify it, either for protest or not for protest, nobody can beat his chest and say he gave me such money. Some of the people too, some of my excos who are accountants also sacrificed from their pockets to support the protest. But unfortunately, the more you try, sometimes the harder it gets. Even the people we were fighting for were not expecting anything like thank you and those were some of the advice I gave. Don’t expect thank you, if you do, you will never get but just make your heart pure and that’s a strong one for me. The biggest encouragement has been a few pastor friends who have been at the altar praying for me. There have been lots of conspiracies even from within. Sometimes you get discouraged but you still hear that still small voice saying, I am with you, go on. I’m human but, I had to allow God do it for me. This is the first time IYC president is issuing and ultimatum and protests had compliance across all the regions. It shows that if you are sincere to lead, there are followers that are sincere to follow, it means that the people actually wanted the board and I didn’t do it because of any personal attachment; that’s why till this minute, I’ve got several calls, who’s your interest in the board? I don’t have. Instead, I’m joining people to search for strong persons that can man the board as an MD, very strong character that can man the board as MD beyond party line. Because honestly, these fight, our efforts, God will not allow it to be useless because if a wrong person becomes MD, we will continue to fight. So that’s why when we fight for the physical, we’re actually calling God on the spiritual. We’re calling God very seriously, none of these things we can achieve without God. Seriously, the mind of the people is wicked, the Bible confirms that the heart of men is wicked, desperately wicked, who can know it. Without the commitment from our own end personally towards this developmental pursuit, this region may not have a change; it has to get to that point. I pray that God will increase the heart of those who want progress and reduce the number of the heart of the people who do not want progress because even the internal fight will stop the progress, you ask yourself, is the house actually clean to receive visitors. In the course of pursing this cause, I’ve made many enemies in the region.