Tony Osauzo, Benin
The traditional Prime Minister of Warri Kingdom and a chieftain of the All Progressives Congress (APC), Chief Ayiri Emami, has commended President Muhammadu Buhari for his effort in ensuring peace in the Niger Delta.
Speaking during an interview with newsmen shortly after Itsekiri leaders met President Buhari at Aso villa, Chief Ayiri commented on the security situation in the country, saying that enemies of the Buhari administration are the once trying to use the issue of herdsmen to rubbish his name.
He also spoke on the crisis rocking the Edo State APC and faulted Chief E.K Clarke’s comment on the crisis, just as he spoke on how the APC would win Delta and more states in the South-south and Southeast in 2023 and other national issues. Excerpts:
Itsekiri leaders visited President Muhammadu Buhari at the Villa, how was the visit?
It was a very good visit, Mr President welcomed the Itsekiri people and he appreciated the votes he got from the Itsekiris. The Olu of Warri made several demands, particularly insecurity issue along the Benin-Ore road. He made some requests that security agents should be deployed along that road to check the activities of kidnappers and armed robbers. We also discussed the issue of the Warri Port and Koko Port, we also discussed the EPZ project, the Ogidigben gas processing project. The foundation was laid by former President Goodluck Jonathan in 2014, he pleaded with the president to kick-start the project. We also made request for some appointments and also thanked the president for the appointment of Barrister Festus Keyamo, who is from Central Senatorial District of Delta State. It is a well-deserved appointment. The president assured us that he will look into our demands and he expressed joy that we came to pay the visit. We seriously appealed that the Federal Government come and work on the ports in the Niger Delta so as to decongest the Lagos ports where Nigerians are finding things extremely difficult. And we have Warri, Koko and Onne ports lying fallow. And we looked at the waterways security, we believe that the president has tried, it’s just for us to do one or two things to further boost security in the water ways. And as regards illegal bunkering, the contractor handling the job in Delta State, OMS, I think they are doing very well. So, we commended Mr President for that too, the contractor is doing very well.
How do you see that APC victory in the presidential election?
For me, the party under the leadership of Comrade Adams Oshiomhole has recorded a lot of success particularly after the emergence of Mr President, that victory is overwhelming. As if that was not enough, Oshiomhole led NWC ensured the emergence of a leadership of the National Assembly anointed by the party. He worked doggedly for that and he succeeded and today the entire nation is enjoying it. So far, the party leadership has done very well and we are very happy that for the first time in the South-south, we are having the deputy senate president coming from Delta State. So, I want to commend the Oshiomhole-led NWC because they have made us proud.
Do you think the current NWC will provide victory for the party in 2023?
Definitely, I don’t see any opposition to APC come 2023, in fact, before then PDP will disintegrate and many will move to APC. People will always complain and you will think heaven will fall. You recall that before 2019, some said this will be the last election in Nigeria, some said APC will be defeated due to the propaganda machine of the PDP. But what happened at the end of the day, we went into the election and emerged victorious.
What is the problem with Delta APC, many thought the APC will pick the state in the last governorship election, but it seems so much bickering thwarted that victory?
Yes, I am aware we had serious issues in the party, but even with that we did very well than in 2015. We won some seats in the Central district, both senate and some seats in the House of Assembly. I believe that by the next election the majority of Deltans will know that they have to work with APC. With the kind of votes we got in the last election in Delta State, I am very optimistic that by 2023, we are going to take Delta State. Now that we have the Deputy Senate President, and a vibrant minister, we are going to work harder and the sky will be our limit.
Recently, Ijaw leader, Chief EK Clark urged the National Assembly not to attempt to take over the running of the Edo State House of Assembly, what is your take on that as a chieftain of the APC?
When I read that I felt very disappointed because he is an elder statesman and he should know the laws more than many of us. In 2015, I recall that Chief Clark never supported Governor Obaseki so if Obaseki is trying to be very ungrateful to people that brought him to power, I think as a father, Chief Clark should have advised him better, not to cause chaos in Edo State because Edo and Delta are still the same. I expected him to call Obaseki and advise him as a father, but he did not do that rather he took side immediately. Let me tell you, there is nothing about Edo State that we don’t know, the National Assembly has it as a duty to intervene in any state Assembly that has crisis. So, for anybody to fault that move is unfortunate and that is why I am shocked with the comment made by Chief EK Clark. All of us knew how Obaseki became governor of Edo State, he was never a politician. It was Oshiomhole who made him governor against all odds. Oshiomhole offended many people loyal to him just because he wanted to make Obaseki governor. There is an adage in Itsekiri which says you must remember the good of yesterday. Whatever Obaseki is doing he must sleep and reflect the good time he had with Comrade. A couple of times I had an opportunity to sit with Comrade and he kept telling me that Ayiri, you know how I laboured to bring Obaseki so I cannot support pulling that house down. So, I don’t see Comrade fighting Obaseki, but Obaseki is just fighting himself. So, Chief EK Clark should concentrate on Delta State where he caused so much problem for people and leave Edo alone because he does not know how Obaseki became governor.
Nigerians are lamenting over insecurity, don’t you think the APC government has failed in that direction?
Not at all, rather they are doing their best. Sometimes I don’t want to join issues with people, where were these people before 2015 when Boko Haram took over some local governments in the Northeast? In fact, the Itsekiri people were almost going into extinction because of the killings going on then in our communities. People talk about Fulani herdsmen and it is very unfortunate because when people go out now to commit evil they attribute it to Fulani herdsmen. We have been living with Fulani herdsmen over the years we never experienced issues like this. I believe the enemies of this administration are the ones trying to use the issue of herdsmen to rubbish the name of the president and it is wrong. The normal herdsmen are peaceful people, but those using it to commit havoc on our people are criminals and they should be dealt with. So, the issue of insecurity has been there over the years and President Buhari inherited the problems from the PDP. But we are glad that he is doing a lot to solve the problems.