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IJAW elders behind Jonathan’s presidential ambition

IJAW elders behind Jonathan’s presidential ambition

His Highness Anabs Sara Igbe is a foremost Niger Delta activist. He was special adviser to former governor Peter Odili on security matters. In this interview he makes it clear that Ijaw elders have decided that President Goodluck Jonathan should contest the 2011 presidential election. He also calls on INEC to conduct coming elections with its staff instead of adhoc staff that would have nothing to lose if they assist in rigging elections. (Photo: President Goodluck Jonathan)

He  urged President Goodluck Jonathan to hold governors of Niger Delta region accountable, arguing that at the moment they are not addressing challenges in the riverine part of the region. High Chief Anabs who is a fiery talker said the crisis in the region would continue if the governors refuse to develop the riverine part where much of the oil and gas that sustain the nation’s economy come from. EXCERPT:

Let’s look at the new Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC).  Any advice on how it should achieve one man one vote in coming elections?

President, Dr Good luck Jonathan surprised Nigerians with his choice of INEC Chairman. There were several speculations, but for him to be able to keep the name to his chest was great. The appointment of Jega is laudable.   For Jega to achieve one man one vote, and a successful electoral reform, he must look at the practical aspect of voting. All the parties were involved in rigging. A Jega led INEC should first clear the aparthy in the country. A lot of people don’t want to vote because they believe that elections, no matter what will be rigged and dubious leadership will still emerge.

hey also believe that the voting is done in Government Houses, so whether you vote or not the election will not work.  INEC in the past has spent so much money on elections without employing the key players in election. These key people are: the presiding officers, the returning officers and the polling clerks.

INEC must ensure that these people are made permanent staff of INEC and in times of election they don’t participate in their states. They are posted to different states. They should arrive the states a day to the election. And leave after the election. This will prevent bribery and corruption. This way will also guarantee Nigerians credible election. If you don’t do this, elections are bound to fail again.

Will INEC have the capacity to employ all the adhoc staff needed for elections?

Nigeria spends billions on INEC for elections. What then will it cost us to keep these staff? Alternatively INEC can deploy its entire staff to the field. If they are not enough then employ for the shortfall. Let the presiding officers be INEC staff, returning officers, polling officers, all should be INEC staff. They should go a day to election like I said earlier.

Why should they go a day to the time?

If they are there a day to election they cannot be influenced by politicians to subvert the election, when they arrive early they will not be known to any of the parties.

So much has been said about President Jonathan running in the 2011 Presidential election, there are also those against the idea. What do you say?

The constitution of the country empowers you and I to contest the presidential election, I think so. Dr Good luck has been involved in political office from deputy governor, to Vice President and by the grace of God he is now president. He is qualified to run for presidency in the coming election, I think the constitution grants him that right. So in my mind he can contest. He has the right to contest. And as an Ijaw leader it is our desire that he contests.

Before I continue let me tell Nigerians one truth. There is this perception that Obasanjo is behind, President Good luck etc. These are wrong notions. Obasanjo is the greatest enemy of the Niger Delta. I know him too well and he knows me too well. I have said it times without number  that the 2007 election was supposed to be the turn of the  South south  to produce a president for the country.

But Obasanjo truncated it because he hates the South south. If a free and fair election had been conducted in 2007 Nigerians know that the south south would have won the presidency.

Obasanjo did not stop at not conducting a free and fair election and also denying the Niger Delta opportunity to run for the highest political office, he looked for somebody he thought was the weakest South South man at that time to be Vice President. So that the man cannot raise his voice not to think of becoming president; that was how Good luck Jonathan emerged. I mentioned this to contenders like Dr Peter Odili then that Obasanjo would never support them. We lost it in 2007.

This is the only region that has not ruled this country. Obasanjo played God then by depriving the region of presidency. God however intervened in 2010. Between 2009 and 2010 we could not read the hand writing from God so there were several interpretations. But God has restored that which was stolen from the region. The region by this has also been given opportunity to contest and win the coming presidential election. The Ijaw leaders met over the weekend to decide that Goodluck Jonathan must contest.

The nation stands to benefit more if he continues as president.

The nation knows that the crisis in the region affected the economy of the country. The crisis stopped the flow of gas which affected power generation in the country. Petroleum products were affected because of the crises.  These things affected both the rich and poor. Good luck presidency pacified the region. You can see that since Good luck came on board as President there has been peace in the region. The amnesty is not working yet there has been no revolt.

Do you see Good luck conducting a free and fair election if he is running in the election?

Let me say this, some people don’t understand Jega. He is an activist, and activists have a common trait, you cannot bribe them. No amount of intimidation can cow them. So long as you cannot influence Jega he would do the right thing. They will be even be afraid to collect because they would think the SSS will bribe them so they won’t take.

By Jimitota Onoyume, Nigeria

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