Barrister Roland Pereotubo Oweilaemi, President, Ijaw Youth Council (IYC) Worldwide and President General of All Ethnic Nationalities in the Niger Delta, in this interview with SIMPLE IKEM, spoke on expectations of Nigerians from President Muhammadu Buhari in 2020, the ‘Operation Omotekun’ and performance of Delta State governor, Senator Ifeanyi Okowa, among others issues.
TNE: As Nigerians enter into the new year, 2020, how would you assess President Muhammadu Buhari’s performance in 2019?
Majority of Nigerians are complaining that Buhari’s government performed below expectations in his first four years. I see no difference from the views of his critics. The government has virtually failed in all sectors. There is acute hardship and extreme poverty in the country. 2019 has no different record from what we have had in the previous years.
TNE: What are your expectations from the President in 2020?
Our expectations are many, but the delivery is the issue. We are expecting Buhari to turn things around for the country, at least to cushion the effect of the sufferings. However, the bulk ends on his table. With the way the government is borrowing, I am afraid Nigeria is not getting out of our problems anytime soon.
Nigeria is becoming bankrupt in the hands of Buhari if he still pushes on borrowing more money, especially the pending $30 billion the government wants to borrow. To me, 2020 is another year Nigerians will continue to groan with the pangs of bad governance. Let us just brace up for the challenges ahead.
TNE: The administration has been under attack over its poor human rights record and disrespect for human rights. What is your take on that?
I support those who said President Buhari is a dictator or a despot. Buhari is operating like an autocratic leader who detests the rule of law. Under him, national security is superior to the rule of law and our constitution is partially in abeyance. The agents of the government, especially the DSS and the EFCC, choose which court order to obey and which one to disobey, while Buhari gleefully watches with admiration.
He has earned international records for doing the wrong things. First, there’s unmitigated human rights violations. In the government Buhari is presiding, the rights of individual Nigerians mean nothing to him. He has made the Judiciary to be an arm of the executive, which is against the tenets of separation of powers, while the legislature is bequeathed to some docile party faithful who are ready to validate every action of the executive.
TNE: How do you see the recent attack on former President Goodluck Jonathan’s house in Otuoke, Bayelsa State?
The attack was uncalled for. We condemn it in its entirety. We have alerted the security agencies to fish out the perpetrators and bring them to book. Those involved should not go unpunished. IYC has passed the message to all its organs in the various clans across Ijaw land to assist the security agencies in intelligence gathering for the purpose arresting the culprits.
TNE: What is your view on the recent suspension of the NDDC Board by the President after it has been cleared by the Senate?
President Buhari did the right thing. His action was in according with the yearnings of the Niger Delta people. The suspended management board was constituted in flagrant violation of the NDDC Act, 2000. Such should not be allowed to stay, except Buhari wants to tell the world that he does not believe in the law establishing the commission. The chairman of the board should not come from Edo State now. It is the turn of alphabet “D” which is Delta State. Pius Odubu’s appointment as the chairman of the now disbanded board, was a big error.
Having discovered that the botched board was illegally constituted in gross violation of the enabling law, the Niger Delta people, especially the IYC, complained about it. Mr. President has decided to revise himself. The Interim Management Board is, therefore, rightly constituted in the circumstance.
TNE: How do you see the speculation that former Delta State governor, Dr. Emmanuel Uduaghan, has been tipped as the new chairman of the NDDC board?
Whether it is Dr. Emmanuel Uduaghan or any other person from Delta State, such a person is qualified to be appointed as the chairman of the board. However, the Ijaws in the state are saying that the slot should be given to us for equity and fair play. All other tribes in Delta State have occupied the management board in recent time. It is fair that the position should be given to the Ijaws now, at least in compliance with the Federal Character Act and the 1999 Constitution.
TNE: How do you see the Niger Delta politics as the nation marches towards 2023 election?
There is nothing spectacular about 2023 politics. The atmosphere is still cloudy. We are still watching. There is nothing on ground to comment on now.
TNE: How do you see Governor Ifeanyi Okowa’s administration in Delta State in this his second term administration so far?
Okowa is trying his best. The man has virtually tried in all sectors. I commend him for his developmental initiatives. However, the riverine areas have not fared better. He should do more for the riverine people. The pace at which Ayakoromo bridge project is going on is not encouraging. All ongoing projects in the riverine areas should be given priority attention. Okowa should complete the Ayakoromo bridge, Ogbobagbene Torugbene road and all other projects in the riverine terrain in his second term. That will make the riverine dwellers feel sense of belonging in the affairs of governance.
TNE: What is your take on the formation of South-West security force, ‘Operation Amotekun’ by the regional governments?
Operation Amotekun launched by the governors of the South-West region is very commendable. IYC has said it before that we need regional paramilitary security outfits like Amotekun to complement the efforts of the conventional security agencies.
Our security agencies do not have the needed manpower to combat crime in the country. These are the reasons we are canvassing for the state police. IYC is appealing to the South-South governors to replicate the same in our region. Those northern youth brandishing this laudable initiatives as a threat to national security do not mean well for the corporate existence of Nigeria. We have Hizbah exercising the functions of the conventional police in Kano State, while the Civilian JTF is fighting against the Boko Haram with the military in the North-East. Are they posing any threat to national security? The answer is capital ‘NO’. If what is operating in the north did not pose as a threat to national security, then what applies in the south does not operate as a threat to national security too. Nigeria belongs to all of us. We all sacrificed to keep this country united.
The Attorney-General of the Federation, Abubakar Malami, was wrong in declaring ‘Operation Amotekun’ illegal. The same FG that has failed its constitutional responsibility in securing lives and property in the South-West region cannot condemn the steps the people have taken to secure lives and property in the region. The government should allow the security outfit to operate under the coordination of the conventional security agencies. Thank God for Vice President,Yemi Osinbajo’s intervention which enabled the Federal Government and the South-West governors to reach an understanding over the issue.