Dr Chris Ekiyor is the former National President of the Ijaw Youth Council (IYC) and currently the Caretaker Chairman of Patani Local Government Council of Delta State. In this interview, the Niger Delta activist faults the calls for amnesty for members of the Boko Haram sect and warns that the people of the Niger Delta will resist any move to use the resources from the area to fund the amnesty.
On the 2015 presidency, he says the people of the Niger Delta are unanimous in their decision that President Goodluck Jonathan should run for second term asserting that any attempt to stop him by the North will lead to the end of Nigeria. Excerpts:
The Federal Government has announced a committee to look into the possibilities of granting amnesty to members of the Boko Haram sect. As one of those who perfected amnesty for ex-militants in the Niger Delta, what is your view?
This is another bandwagon effect that is tearing apart our country again. Amnesty today is another word for quick money. I think it is a misplaced national priority to even think about granting amnesty to a bunch of people who, in all their activities, have shown criminality, have shown cold blood murder and have no focus or issue. And it is unfortunate to try to equate Boko Haram with the struggles of the Niger Delta.
In the Niger Delta, a people, who were living peacefully and having their own livelihood, were traumatized by the Federal Government with its activities in oil exploration. Their land captured, their environment polluted from 1957 till date. And the people decided to say, enough is enough, you cannot take our oil and impoverish us. You cannot put 60 per cent of our oil wealth in the hands of Northerners and our environment is not protected.
You have to allow us control our resources so that we can develop our place at the pace at which we found our resources. We are willing to pay tax to the center as it is done every where that oil was found’.
That was what caused the Niger Delta crisis. The Niger Delta struggle was a purposeful and ideology based struggle. That was the focus. Now, between 1996 and 2003, of course, it became an all-comers struggle.
Criminals who will go and steal on the streets will claim that they kidnapped because of oil. Between 2003 and 2007 it went out of hand because the military itself became a party to the process.