In the last one decade, Mujahid Asari-Dokubo has become a factor in the struggle for the emancipation of the Niger Delta. His Niger Delta People’s Volunteers Force, NDPVF, became a thorn in the flesh of the federal government under then President Olusegun Obasanjo, resulting in his incarceration for 20 months. He has no apologies for his convictions, which sum up to the fact that the people of the oil producing areas want total control of their resources. For that struggle he is ready to lay down his life. He believes that if he dies, others will come up to continue the struggle started by Isaac Adaka Boro in the 1960s. Asari-Dokubo stirred the hornets’ nest again last week. And not a few Nigerians noticed his latest verbal gymnastics. The leader of the NDPVF called a press briefing in Abuja to elaborate on a statement made in the United States by Kingsley Kuku, special adviser to the President on the Niger Delta. Kuku had declared that the peace being enjoyed at the moment in the Niger Delta could not be guaranteed if Jonathan failed to get a second term in 2015. While totally backing that view, Asari-Dokubo declared further: “I want to go on to say that, there will be no peace, not only in the Niger Delta, but everywhere if Goodluck Jonathan is not president by 2015, except God takes his life, which we don’t pray for.” The plea by him for a second term for Jonathan is not new. Last December, Asari-Dokubo, while faulting the President on his quarrel with Obasanjo, declared that, “There was no need for Jonathan, whatsoever, to disagree with Obasanjo…It is alarming because the South-south must have its uninterrupted eight years’ tenure which is constitutional….”
In the latest encounter with the press, he disagreed with those who describe Jonathan’s administration as visionless, arguing that Jonathan’s performance has surpassed that of any of his predecessors in terms of provision of social infrastructure. On this issue of performance, many would wonder at Asari-Dokubo’s sudden U-turn. Barely four months ago the same Asari-Dokubo said of the President, “What has Jonathan’s government achieved to show that it is a departure from other governments that have existed since 1956? For us, nothing has changed. It is still business as usual.” That is not all. Last August, dismayed by the activities of the Boko Haram, he canvassed for the dissolution of President Jonathan’s administration and then subsequently the convocation of a Sovereign National Conference. He used that opportunity to condemn the non-performance of the government and asked rhetorically, “What is Godswill Orubebe (minister of the Niger Delta) still doing in the federal cabinet? If Orubebe has failed, Jonathan has failed. A time will come if he didn’t change, our people would say, Goodluck, you are on your own.”
However, as the saying goes, in politics, 24 hours is like an eternity. Jonathan is not alone, if Asari-Dokubo’s warning to the nation is anything to go by. And therefore, if either by an act of commission or omission Jonathan misses re-election in 2015, Nigeria is in for it. The militants in the Niger Delta, who have been on sabbatical, may come back in full force. The implication is that oil exploration activities may be grounded. Do not forget that oil is the goose laying the nation’s golden eggs. But it is not oil exploration alone that will feel the fury of disappointed Niger Deltans, the leader of the NDPVF says no part of Nigeria will know peace. And individuals who stand in the way of the President towards realising his re-election dream should better beware. Asari-Dokubo has pointedly described Governor Chibuike Rotimi Amaechi of Rivers State as a traitor. His offence? “Rotimi Amaechi has been making disparaging statements against the person of President Goodluck Jonathan. He went to Kano State and declared there that he would contest 2015 presidential election as a running mate to a northern aspirant. He is free to do so, but the South-south will not allow traitors among us.” Reacting to the stinging diatribe against her boss, Ibim Semenitari, Rivers State information commissioner, explained that because we are practising a democracy, Asari-Dokubo was entitled to his views. Thus the state government would not dignify the allegations with a response. The governor and some of his associates had on numerous occasions disabused the mind of Nigerians that he was not in the running for Aso Rock in 2015. Perhaps, there are certain things the Asari-Dokubos of Nigeria are privy to that are unknown to the ordinary Nigerian.
However, citizens who feel the pinch brought about by the drift that the Jonathan government has become must surely be amazed at the drums of war the militant is beating nearly two years away to the 2015 election. Any Nigerian, no matter his area of origin, is by right entitled to become the president of the country. And that is what Obasanjo and some other Nigerians proved by supporting Jonathan to succeed his boss late President Umaru Yar’Adua in 2010. Asari-Dokubo himself attested to this. That feat, in the militant’s words, amounted to rescuing the people of the Niger Delta from slavery. “Now that we have come out of slavery, nobody can take us back into slavery, it is not possible,” he had vowed. If a second term is what will seal that freedom however, a threat to make a whole nation ungovernable is not the best tactic. After all, if Jonathan, by any stretch of the imagination, got all the votes of the Niger Delta in 2015, that will not be enough to make him win the election. Even then, that is not possible. For even among the non-Ijaws of the South-south, there had been accusations of clannishness against President Jonathan. It is not among this group alone that he has frittered the pan-Nigerian mandate he received in 2011. If he and his lieutenants put their political ears to the ground, they will hear the loud thumps of those who think only a miracle can earn Mr. President another term. And their vehemence has nothing to do with where he hails from.
One, his party is nothing more than a conglomerate that has been in power for 14 years. That period has witnessed unprecedented boom in revenues from crude oil. In spite of that, electricity supply remains epileptic. Factories are shutting down. Unemployed youths are said to be close to 40 million in number. Health care is a mess. The education sector is not different. The nationwide road network, of which the East-West Road that Asari-Dokubo referred to last December is one, is in shambles. Is it any wonder that many prominent people have of late described Nigeria as a failed state? If Asari-Dokubo cares to know, there are many today who will want our oil fields to dry up, so that our so-called leaders can wake up from the slumber in which they are at present ensconced; for the easy money the nation is earning at the moment from Niger Delta’s crude oil has become a curse. Nigeria needs to be rescued from that curse, for it is holding her down.