BIAFRA: Let Nnamadi Kanu Free Now, Joseph Evah Tells Buhari


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Chief Joseph Evah

PRESIDENT Muhammadu Bu­hari has been advised to listen to the advice of those calling for re­structuring of the country or risk the nation being set on fire.

While describing the calls for restructuring as patriotic, Evah said: “It is better Buhari listens to these voices of reason. He should heed the calls for restructuring. Without restructuring, there will be no peace in Nigeria. Without restructuring, Nigeria is doomed. Those urging him to snub the calls of patriots calling for re­structuring are not only Buhari’s enemies, they are enemies of Ni­geria.”

Evah who spoke with SATUR­DAY SUN’s TUNDE THOM­AS in Lagos also talked at length on other national issues including agitations for the state of Biafra, Nnamdi Kanu’s detention, recent meeting between South East and South South states Houses of Assembly lawmakers, develop­ments in the Niger-Delta, Federal Government’s negotiation with Niger Delta Avengers and a host of others.

Legislators from the South East and South-South geo-political zones recently held a meeting and one of the outcome of their deliberations was the de­mand for 65 percent derivation instead of the present 13 percent derivation for oil-producing communities. What is your re­action to that?

That is completely rubbish. Rubbish. What is 65 percent? What we are demanding for is 100 percent Resource Control as true federalism demands. In countries where true federalism is practiced including the United States, resource control is 100 percent – federating states or units control their own resources, they only pay tax to the govern­ment at the centre, that is, the central or Federal Government.

So, why should our own be different? Our practice of federal­ism is a mockery and the earlier we do the needful, the better. We are sitting on a keg of gunpow­der which can explode anytime. People are now wise, the era of deceit and oppression is over, and this is why it is better for the President to heed the voices of reason, calling for the restructur­ing of Nigeria. We can’t continue this way. To continue this way, we are toying with fire. The ear­lier we do the needful, the better for all of us.

You were saying that we need to do the needful …?

Cuts in … Yes. We need to cor­rect the wrongs of the past. It was not like this way before. When Nigeria was practicing true fed­eralism during the First Republic, before the military intervention, each region was in control of its resources, and they were using the resources to develop their regions, but they were paying taxes to the Federal Government. But when the military came, they changed everything. They turned Nigeria into a unitary state, and by doing that, they cancelled the existing arrangement, and took over the resources of the regions and concentrated everything at the centre.

This was how oil was hijacked from the oil-producing commu­nities of the Niger-Delta – Unfor­tunately at that time, the people of the Niger-Delta were about to enjoy or have control over their God-given resources.

When the military now took over, they became partisan, they abolished federalism, and ad­opted unitary system; an arrange­ment in which power was con­centrated in the centre.

The military did not only do this enormous damage, they also became partisan. They started us­ing the wealth from oil produc­tion to develop only a section of the country, the North, mostly and other parts of the country, while the oil owners were ne­glected and abandoned to wallow in poverty.

This is why I described all our former military rulers as plunder­ers –they don’t have conscience. They owed the people of Niger- Delta unreserved apology. These military rulers, all of them Ba­bangida, Murtala Muhammed, Gowon, Abacha, Buhari, all pauperised the people of Niger- Delta. They took our oil blocks, shared it among themselves. They used our wealth in Niger- Delta to develop the North. They should seek forgiveness. The only exception is General Yaku­bu who has human face, and even tried his best to develop Nigeria through various programmes he executed for the nation when he was in office.

Gowon embarked on National Development Programme in phases, and not only that, he in­troduced NYSC Scheme in 1973 as a way of promoting and forg­ing peace and unity in the country, May Almighty God bless him. He also embarked on massive in­frastructural development of the country. Gowon is the only one I respect among former northern military rulers, but other northern military rulers came to imple­ment the northern agenda. This is why people like Senator Joseph Waku, a man I will describe as an illiterate and going senile, will open his mouth and abuse the people of the Niger-Delta, calling us blackmailers. Not only that, he went as far as saying that the oil in the Niger-Delta belong to all Nigerians. The old man is go­ing senile. They should take him for a check-up. If Waku is not an illiterate, why would he open his mouth and talk rubbish. Did he not attend school? I doubt wheth­er he attended any school at all, how much more, having kmow­lege of the history of Nigeria.

Waku should go back to school. He should not try to re­write history.

For the people in the Niger- Delta, we have no interest in their groundnut pyramid in Kano, what does not belong to us, we won’t lay claim to it.

Let Waku and people like him in the North do whatever they like with their groundnut, they should not say that oil belongs to them in the North. Anybody making such stupid claim needs his head to be reexamined.

This restructuring you were talking about, opponents of the calls …?

Cuts in … Yes, I have no regret backing the calls for restructur­ing. There is no alternative to it. Let me tell President Buhari the home truth, whether we like it or not, for the next three years before his first term will expire, the calls for restructuring will get louder and louder. This is just the beginning. Buhari can’t run away from restructuring. To do other­wise is to invite more problems to himself. One of the best way out for Buhari is to implement aspects of 2014 Confab Reports organized by his predecessor, Goodluck Jonathan. It is one of the ways out of the quagmire. It is unfortunate that some hawks and selfish aides surrounding Buhari are advising the President not to have anything to do with the Jonathan’s confab reports and recommendations.

What we are talking about here is not Jonathan’s person­ality or face. You may not like Jonathan’s face, but what we are talking about here is about Nige­ria’s progress and development. If Jonathan’s confab reports and recommendations contained so­lutions to our problems, why not take those parts that will help move Nigeria forward? Buhari should be careful with some of his aides. They are giving him advice that will create problems for him. This is one of the prob­lems our national leaders have been facing, and also one of the reasons they fail.

They are surrounded mostly by evil men and women who call themselves advisers–these so-called advisers will never tell our leaders the home truth – they are always in Aso Rock. They were there during Babangida’s time. they were there during Abacha’s time, They were also there during Yar’Adua, Obasanjo and Jona­than’s tenures.

They call themselves advisers but in reality, they are enemies of the nation –that Aso Rock needs deliverance. It needs to be purged of evil men and women who always deceive our leaders and prevent them from doing good works.

At a time, I was invited to Aso Rock during Obasanjo and Jona­than’s time, and I told all their so-called advisers the truth. I lambasted them. I asked some of them why were they not willing to tell our leaders the truth?

Hear what some of them said. Some of them told me that they prefered to tell our leaders what would be sweet to their ears for them to keep their jobs, while others said that to say the truth or tell the truth to the President amounted to changing the status quo. I told them that prosperity and God would not forgive them if they failed to say the truth or tell our leaders the truth. Some of them became annoyed and told the security agents that “why do you allow this troublesome man to come to the Villa? We don’t want people like Evah in the Vil­la. He is a trouble-maker.

Before I left the Villa, I told them that I was not interested in visiting the Villa and that anytime I had access to the Villa, I would always say the truth whether in or outside the Villa.

The agitation for Biafra, does it fall under the calls for restruc­turing, or where do you place it?

The call for Biafra is a genu­ine call. It is part of agitation by people who felt oppressed by the system. If things are normal, if there is no injustice or persecu­tion or a feeling of it, there won’t be agitations for it. It is not only in Biafra that you have agitations, it is all over the country now. Many people, many sections are aggrieved and that is why I ad­vise President Buhari not to pre­tend that all is well or that there is nothing wrong with Nigeria.

Many things are wrong with Nigeria today. The earlier Buhari faces the reality, the better. I’m not a prophet of doom, Buhari or let me say, his administration will not have peace unless these issues of injustice and oppression are addressed.

But can the Biafra issue be re­solved, and what is your advice to President Buhari?

The first solution to the Biafra problem is that Buhari should free Nnamdi Kanu. The man should not have been detained at all.

Kanu has not been violent. He is fighting for the interest of his people. How can you brand somebody asking for justice for his people a criminal? Kanu is not carrying arms. He has not called for armed rebellion against the country.

The first step towards peace is to release him, and the Federal Government can then commence dialogue with him and other leaders of the South-East geo- political zone about their griev­ances.

Like what happened during Obasanjo’s tenure when Asari Dokubo was detained, and his detention led to upsurge in vio­lence in the Niger-Delta. After some time. Obasanjo called the leaders in the Niger-Delta and he was advised to release Dokubo but with a promise that he was released to elders in the region who would act as guarantors that he would not make trouble again, and that arrangement worked. Asari Dokubo was released to the elders from the Niger-Delta with a pledge that he won’t make trou­ble again while solutions were being found to the grievances of the people then.

My advise is that Buhari should release Kanu to a respect­able elder statesman like the for­mer Vice-President, Chief Alex Ekwueme with a provision that he won’t make any pronounce­ment again capable of stoking tension. While he gives that as­surance, then the federal govern­ment and leaders from the south east geo-political zone open the channel to dialogue.

It is an act of injustice to keep Kanu behind bars. Keeping him behind bars will continue to win sympathy for him among his fol­lowers especially the youths in the South-east.

I can assure you that if Kanu is released today, there will be calm in the South east. If late Chuk­wuemeka Odumegwu Ojukwu were to be alive, I would have asked Buhari to release Kanu to him, but Ekwueme is also an­other good replacement. Let Bu­hari try this suggestion, and let’s see how it will work out. Buhari should not allow himself to be taken hostage by some selfish and unpatriotic advisers that will not tell him the truth.

This meeting between the south east and south south leg­islators, how do you see it? Do you see it as beginning of a new rapport between the two geo-po­litical zones to fight the common interests of the people in their zoned or what?

It is too early to jump to con­clusions. Let’s wait and see. You see, you can’t trust politicians, you can’t trust them, neither can you predict them. But I don’t see any genuineness in their meeting yet. I’m yet to see that serious­ness, but let’s fold our hands and watch as events unfold. May be it is the beginning of a new order. Only time will tell.

Some people have accused the president of marginalising peo­ple of the South-south and east in his appointments. They have accused Buhari of lopsidedness; that he favours the North more than any other zone in his ap­pointments, what’s your take on this?

I’ve heard those accusations. One thing I know is that before people make allegations, they must have some facts. Even some Nigerians have been advis­ing Mr President to see all Nige­rians as part of his constituency, I would have say let’s still watch the President for some time, he has spent just one year in office.

My grouse is even against our state governors and their so-called members of the National Assembly from the South-east and from the South-south.

Our governors from the Niger- Delta are cowards. Our lawmak­ers from the zone are also cow­ards –they need deliverance. Are they not the ones that are sup­posed to be fighting for the in­terests of their people? Are they not the ones that are supposed to form a powerful block to con­front, challenge or take it up with Buhari?

But our governors are cow­ards – they are all cowards – they can’t face Buhari to demand for the rights of their people. They can’t look Buhari in the face and tell him that what he’s doing is wrong. Our governors from the Niger-Delta need spiritual deliv­erance.

I’m appealing to eminent men of God from the South-south, like Anthony Cardinal Olubunmi Okogie, Pastor Ayo Oritsejafor, Pastor Chris Oyakhilome to orga­nize deliverance prayers for our governors. Governors from the south-south are cowards. They are timid. They can’t fight for the interests of their people. What a shame. What a big shame.

There is injustice in Nigeria that needs to be addressed. For instance, my state, Bayelsa State which produce oil that fetches Nigeria’s wealth has only 8 local governments, whereas Kano and Katsina that have no resources that give Nigeria any revenue has 44 and 42 local governments re­spectively.

What that means is that these two states that are not producing oil are collecting more monthly allocation than oil-producing state. What an injustice?

When we talk, some of them will say that Bayelsa is more of water than land but what we are saying is that, the land mass should also be equated with water mass so that we are treated fairly.

The water in Bayelsa should be treated as land mass, is it not on water that our people eke a living as fishermen before oil explora­tion destroyed our ecosystem. We want justice and equity. Buhari must strive to be fair to all.                    The Sun


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