By Ayeotan Shola
Ebis Orubebe, who is the Leader of the Niger Delta groups and the President/Founder of Concerned Niger-Delta Youths Initiative (CNDYI), has adviced President Muhammadu Buhari to work on ensuring peace in the Niger Delta.
In an exclusive interview with Vanguard he spoke on why the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) lost the 2015 presidential polls and how to maintain peace in the Niger-Delta region.
Read exceprts from the interview below.
There was serious internal crisis within the PDP, which led to the defection of some important members including governors, legislators and other leaders. Secondly, this insecurity challenge, especially Boko Haram, was a key factor the opposition took advantage of.
Thirdly, you know Nigeria politics; politics of North and South. Some northern leaders accused Dr Goodluck Jonathan of refusing to honour the zoning agreement. I do not know when that agreement was reached, where it was discussed. That was a key factor, the entire North felt power should return to the region. Also, some persons within the party did not do well. We see it as a betrayal, the way they lost scandalously in their areas.
In regards to increased insecurity in the country he said:
When the Boko Haram insurgency started many Nigerians felt it was just Jonathan’s problem. So people rather than joining him to fight they were busy blaming him. Even the people from places where this crisis is going on were seeing it as just Jonathan’s problem. So that is how it basically got to this point. As we can see, this problem has gone beyond just Nigeria.
These people have connections with ISIS, Al-Qaeda and other international terrorist organizations. I will call on all Nigerians to support the current President and the government, to see how we would put hands together and fight it.
In regards to the resurrection of the crisis in the Niger-Delta region under President Buhari, he said:
Even before the election there were some set of youths, let me call them ex-agitators who threatened that if Jonathan was not re-elected they were going to take up arms again.
We reached out to these agitators and some youth leaders to take the result of the elections. I still see some forms of threat, especially on the part of the ex-agitators; arising from what is going on in the current government, which I may call witch-hunt. As of last count, we have three aides to the former president from the Niger Delta, who are being detained and no one has come up to tell us the reasons for their detention. I have my fears, because I know the role we played to make sure that there is peace in the region; and if this witch-hunt is not halted with immediate effect, I doubt that we will continue to enjoy peace in the Niger-Delta.
As a group, we are still planning some programmes to bring the youths together. First and foremost, looking at the crisis in the North-Eastern part of the country, we want to work with the youths over there because they are our brothers, and anything happening there affects every one of us. We are also planning programmes and activities that will continue to foster peaceful co-existence among Niger-Delta youths.
We have been trying to bring various warring factions and youth groups in the region together to maintain peace. We are planning a meeting with the newly elected leaders in the region, especially the governors and legislators, to see how we can pursue a common goal, which is the development of the Niger-Delta, peacefully.
In President Muhammadu Bahari’s inaugural speech, he promised to improve on programmes that were already in place and that Niger-Delta in particular will have a special place in his government. So, we are hoping that he will keep to his promise. You are the President/Founder of Concerned Niger-Delta Youths Initiative (CNDYI), what is the group about?
The aim of this group is to promote peace and unity among Niger-Delta youths in particular and Nigerian youths in general. It was formed as a result of the polarization of youths’ groups over the years which has become a tool in the hands of selfish politicians with their divisive tendencies and other Niger-Delta forces.
We set up this group to bring these youths together in order to foster unity among them as leaders of tomorrow.