Alhaji Mujadid Asari – Dokubo, an Ijaw nation freedom fighter, is a staunch supporter of former President Goodluck Jonathan. But in this interview with Femi Folaranmi at his country home in Harry’s Town, Asari- Toru Local Government Area of Rivers State, he advised the former president not cave to pressure to contest the 2023 Presidential. Rather he said Jonathan should back any South- Easterner for the topmost job in the country.
Asari- Dokubo who insisted that the South- East is the most qualified region to produce the Presidency in 2023, said the South- West has no right to contest after former President Olusegun Obasanjo, who he described as a mischief maker, had done eight years.
Recently there was a face-off between former President Olusegun Obasanjo and Chief Edwin Clark on who owns the oil resources in Niger Delta. What is your take on this?
General Olusegun Obasanjo is a mischief maker. He makes mischief at all times. If Nigeria is a federation, the resources found in a place belong to the federating unit. In Zamfara, they are extracting their gold and selling, but Obasanjo is too afraid to talk. And I blame our leaders for what is happening. A situation when they brought amnesty, I told them this is wrong, that we are being criminalised but people jumped at the money. It is we that did not jump at the money; we that we did not expect it were regarded as betrayers. Those who accepted the money were celebrated. Our father, Chief Clark also celebrated these people, giving them accolades and so on. Now the chicken has come home to roost. Obasanjo is a mischief maker, the oil belongs to the people under whose land it is found and there is nothing you can do about that.
You are known to have been against a Buhari Presidency. Do you have any regrets?
I did not support Muhammadu Buhari but people were supporting him. Even those who pretended not to support him supported. People were cutting deals. I was tagged being antagonistic, bearing in mind that I have more affinity with him than any of them. I am a Muslim for crying out loud. So for now I have decided that I don’t want to be in that sort of situation where I would be on one side and other people would be enjoying and I would abuse him, and others would be cutting deals. I won’t be in that sort of condition again. For me, since everybody is enjoying him, we are all going to enjoy it together.
What is your take on rotational presidency?
In every heterogeneous society, leadership positions ought to be assigned in a way that every part of the society would feel a deep sense of patriotism and hold the state dear. But a situation where one party takes at the expense of others fraudulently, then there would be dissent and people would not recognize the authority. Like what is happening in Nigeria, if one section takes upon itself to rule at the expense of others, it would create resentment.
In your honest view, which of the Southern regions – South-East, South-South and South-West should go for the Presidency in 2023?
It should be South- East. They are the most qualified. It is the same thing we are saying. If we are accusing the North of grabbing power, why would the South-West go? Obasanjo has done this for eight years. Why would South-South go? Goodluck Jonathan has done six years. So it should be South- East.
Because if we want national integration, if we want everybody to be on the same page, then why would we leave out the South-East? Since after the Biafra Civil war, no South-Easterner has become President or Head of State or Head of Government of any kind. So why should they be excluded if they are part of Nigeria.
But there are arguments in some quarters that the South- South did not complete its mandatory eight year tenure?
It is not the fault of anybody that Jonathan did not complete his two-term tenure. Jonathan sat down there with all the AK 47 and allowed himself to be chased away with sticks. It is not the fault of the South- East. Jonathan served, but he did not protect the Presidency. It is the truth. I am a Goodluck supporter but that is the truth.
There have been insinuations that Goodluck Jonathan is being pressured to defect to the APC to run again for president. What is your take on this?
How can Goodluck ever contemplate going to APC? That is why some of us have come to see ourselves as being foolish. How can Goodluck, after all the quarrel, abuse, some of his supporters starved, lost their businesses and suffered, then all of a sudden without any consideration, we are hearing through the social media that he wants to go to APC. Go to APC to do what? So his interests override all of our interests. All the sacrifices we made, lost our businesses, became hungry would be in vain.
So what is your advice to him?
There is nothing I can say other than it is in bad taste if he contemplates joining APC.
So if he goes to APC to contest, won’t you support him?
I have only one vote.
Are you going to support him with one vote?
I have only one vote. The one I supported, I am starving. Now I am not being consulted, I am not considered as being important to be consulted. I have not been told. So why should I make that sort of sacrifice. Buhari has stayed six years, I did not die. So if Goodluck comes for another four years, I would also not die.
So you will be backing a South-Easterner for Nigerian Presidency in 2023?
Yes, if a South- Easterner comes and he is serious. They are the most qualified people to contest.
You supported former Vice-President Atiku Abubakar in 2019.
No, I did not support Atiku.
But you rooted for him. I had an interview with you where you backed to get the PDP ticket.
Yes, I said he was the best the PDP could present. But during the election I did not support him. I didn’t vote in the Presidential elections. I only voted in the governorship election. Atiku did not say anything that makes me feel if becomes President, things would change. He did not say anything to that effect.
What if PDP presents him in 2023?
I will still not vote for him, because up till now he has not said anything that would give us assurance that he meant well for Ijaw people.
South-West is seriously clamouring for the Presidency through Asiwaju Bola Tinubu.
South-West has no right to clamour. It is this nonsense that should stop. They have no right, no reason whatsoever to clamour for the Presidency. Obasanjo ruled for eight years. When you assume that you are more important, more entitled than other people, it breeds problems. What makes South-West think they are more entitled than the South-East to be President? In 2015 it was almost 50-50 votes. So what votes do they have that they are bringing to the table? The South-East voted overwhelmingly for the PDP. South-West voted 50-50 for APC and PDP. So what gives South-West this entitlement mentality that they are more entitled than the South- East?
What is your view on the spate of insecurity across the country?
That is what you get when some people feel they are stronger and can do whatever they like. That is the situation in which we found ourselves. President Buhari campaigned on the mantra that he is going to do this and that. And some of us were saying it is not possible. But they told us to shut up and were abusing us. It is this thing that makes you feel that you are more than others that triggers resentment and people pick arms to fight. This gave rise to people like Nnamdi Kanu to appear to put Igbos under bondage. This system creates monsters because there is so much lopsidedness in appointments and all the things that are going on and the people say it and you are not doing anything to correct it.
Coming to Nnamdi Kanu, don’t you think a political situation would be the best solution? You were also incarcerated by Obasanjo.
(Cuts in). I was incarcerated not as someone who was molesting his people.
So you want him to face justice?
Don’t you think that would be too harsh for him? A political solution would have been ideal to bring peace back to the South-East.
So what of the people that have suffered and died? Where is the justice for them?
What is your view on Sunday Igboho?
I don’t know anything about Sunday Igboho. He might be a more honest, humane and considerate person. But Nnnamdi, I know him and I know what he is doing in Igboland. But I don’t know anything about Sunday Igboho.
At what point did you disagree with Nnamdi Kanu?
Kanu said he is a god. He said Biafra is a Jewish State and that there would be no Islam. And I am a Muslim. If he says there would no Islam, he has said he is my enemy. That was how we parted ways. When Obiano was going for a second term, Kanu said there would be no election and I said the election would hold.
What is your take on the quality of Ijaw leadership in all ramifications?
I cannot assess the Ijaw leadership now, the reason being that I have not been participating in the activities for some time. I think the President of the Ijaw National Congress is doing well. But I cannot say the same about Ijaw Youth Council. I think that the IYC is dead. We now have a group of people who have turned our council, which we laboured, got injured and died for, into something else. It is terrible. For some of us, we are so pained with it. But what can we do? Majority believes that is what the organisation ought to be. That it should be a money making organisation. That it should be an employment bureau. So that is it.
What is your assessment of the National Assembly members who are Ijaws?
There are few National Assembly members who are Ijaws. They are like a drop in the ocean. And most of them are doing their best. They are in the forefront fighting for the people. But the present leadership of the National Assembly is a rubberstamp, a total rubberstamp.
You were part of those that agitated for the establishment of the NDDC, but are you not concerned with the current situation?
I am concerned. But as I am concerned, what is the majority view? Many prefer to go and collect peanuts. I don’t want to be involved in all those things again. At times, you come to a realisation that all this while you were working your heart out, the people don’t even acknowledge it. What do Ijaw people want? When Ijaw people make decisions on what they want, then we would all get up. I don’t know what Ijaw people want. I cannot impose my will on Ijaw people on what I want. That would be dictatorial.
What is your relationship with Former President Jonathan?
I have seen him several times. We have a very good relationship. Whenever I want to see him, I see him and he treats me well.
So don’t you think you would need to advise him on this rumoured 2023 Presidency?
I will try and see him. Or rather he should invite me too. I am also a former President of the IYC. If I have not held any other position before, that qualifies me to be an opinion leader in Ijaw land. So if he wants to consult and if he has respect for me, he should call me.
So if he consults you what are you going to tell him?
I will tell him not to contest. I will tell him that the South- East supported him and this is their turn and so we should join hands together to support a good person from the South- East.
But some Jonathan supporters believes he was pushed out because of his perceived favourable disposition to the South-East?
Jonathan was pushed out because he was too soft for Nigeria. Jonathan is a good man, a good man that did not want to harm anybody. Then people like Olusegun Obasanjo and others kept lying. Where is the list of snipers that Obasanjo talked about? Now he is not talking. Now it is not snipers but you travel on the road and you are kidnapped. Generals are being murdered, traditional rulers are being murdered, clergymen are being murdered; now Obasanjo has lost his voice. God has given Jonathan the position he is in today, let him stay where he is. If Goodluck comes, I would gain more. I might not meet Goodluck to give me something but there are some of my associates that would get into Goodluck’s government, I would walk to them and get things easier than if a South-Easterner is President. But that is not important. I survived six years of Buhari’s government. I did not die. So I can survive eight years of someone who does not know me. I should not take my personal interest above all other peoples. If we are talking about fairness in Nigeria, the people most entitled to the Presidency at this point in time are the South- East. Goodluck and all of us should join hands to support a good person that can bring everybody together and heal the wounds.
Some of you were accused of benefitting immensely from Jonathan and were part of his problem that led to his ouster from the Presidency by turning the government into an Ijaw affair.
Jonathan is an Ijaw man. Is Buhari not a Fulani man? Who has accused Buhari? These are people that did not contribute anything. If anything happens in Ijaw land, they would be in the comfort of their homes. Are they better than us? What pedigree do they have? I am Amachree. My father is Justice Melford Goodhead. Have they gone anywhere we have gone? They stay in the comfort of their homes and talk rubbish. Where have they gone to suffer for Goodluck or done anything. Did they go to prison? Did I go to prison as a criminal? Who are they? How did we turn Goodluck into an Ijaw President? When wicked men like Obasanjo were lying, satanic lies, so people should keep quiet because it is Obasanjo? How did we make him Ijaw President? What did Goodluck do for me? I am gaining more now than I gained under Jonathan. I am getting more recognition than I ever got under Jonathan if that would strike you. I am being celebrated more than I was ever celebrated under Goodluck.
What is your relationship with Tompolo and other ex-militant leaders?
I am not an ex-militant leader. But I and Tompolo have a very good relationship, because as far as I am concerned, it is just the two of us that are on the same path. The others, I don’t know what they are involved in. I don’t really know what they are involved in. I know Tompolo and he knows me. We interact and have the same ideology, we might disagree in some areas but it is core Ijaw national interest that we stand for. Others, I don’t know what they do or what they stand for. Most of them have confiscated the resources of their communities. They are the Alpha and Omega of controlling the oil resources of their communities. When it comes to standing for Ijaw interest, it is me and Tompolo. Maybe there are others, I don’t have their names.
You had a running battle with Henry Okah on ideology
Yes Henry Okah is not different from Nnamdi Kanu. They are people that want to lead and take complete charge of things. I am not interested in such things. I am not in competition with anybody. As a journalist, you have known me over years. Even when I was fighting, you were in the camp to see me. When I was in the creeks, I allowed you to come. You have always been there. I am not in competition with anybody but I stand by my ideology even if the whole world goes a different way.
Recently, Governor El Rufai said Nigerians should think about merit for the 2023 Presidency. Do you share this view?
So in Igboland there is no merit? How can El- Rufai evaluate merit? Who is he compared with the avalanche of scholars in Igboland? When Igbos are talking, the quota system too would talk. Is El Rufai competent? He has been in government living off government. It is we that have never been in government that should talk. When you talk about South- East and competent people, you are talking about people that have produced Azikiwe, Prof Dike etc. If Yorubas are talking with Igbos, we know two elephants are talking, not people that rely on quota system.
You are not known to be a politician, but which party do you have affinity for?
I have an affinity for the Young Progressive Party (YPP).
So in a way you are rooting for Prof Kingsley Mogalu?
He is not a member of our party, He left our party. He used our platform and after, he left without anything. He is good riddance to bad rubbish
So what if he comes back
We won’t take him. Our party would not take him. He looks down on other people. So who does he want to lead?
President Buhari, in his latest interview, said he has done his best for Nigeria. Do you agree?
Yes, we knew this was going to be his best. We said it that this was going to be his best. We said it.
He said he does not expect praise from Nigerians
We are praising him for doing his best. We said it.