Do you remember Captain Perebo Dakolo of the Nigerian Army? Dakolo, a politically conscious military officer from Gbarantoru in Yenagoa local government area of the then Rivers state was one of the officers that plotted the April 22, 1990 coup against then Head of State, General Ibrahim Badamasi Babaginda in what is now famously referred to as the Gideon Orkar coup.
28 years later, his brother who is now a first class traditional ruler in Bayelsa state, King Bubaraye Dakolo, Agada IV, the Ibenanaowei of Ekpetiama Kingdom gave insight into the coup that shook Nigeria. According to him, Dakolo and the other officers that plotted the coup were the pacesetters of the agitation for restructuring in Nigeria.
The monarch who insisted that it was inevitable that the April 22 1990 coup took place explained that Nigeria’s structure is deeply flawed and would continue to witness turbulence until it is restructured along the lines of true federalism.
He described former President Ibrahim Babaginda as a victim of the Nigerian state, adding that the family bears no grudge against him over the killing of Dakolo. He spoke to FEMI FOLARANMI.
How close were you to your brother, the late Capt Perebo Dakolo?
Capt Dakolo was my elder brother and a great influence in my life. In case you do not know I did eight semesters of Medical School. In spite of all of these, I admire his military carriage and exploits and I eventually gave up my prestigious medical school to the Nigeria Defence Academy. That in a nutshell would tell you how much influence he has on my life. He was not only my brother but my friend. We were very close. We shared a lot of things in common. There were not many things going on in the country that I did not know that had to do with him. He had all the confidence in me. Even though I was much younger than him, he trusted me enough to share some of key secrets and nature of this country with me. He was my close friend.
Did he share some his misgivings about Nigeria with you?
Yes he did. Aside that, it is only someone that does not want to admit that would not see the misgivings in this country. Every right thinking person would see that this country with its contraption and if there is no honest restructuring is aimed towards the rocks. Yes, he shared it with me. Even without him sharing it, I also knew. The ills of this country in the present contraption are obvious. If you are sincere to yourself and want a life of enjoyment for yourself and children then you must point towards restructuring where there must be a resource control.
We need restructuring in a way that everybody would concentrate on their advantages. Nigeria would be better for it if Nigerians are encouraged to concentrate in their areas of strength. Northerners concentrate on their strong areas, the same thing with the Izons, the Egbas etc. As a matter of fact there is no need in piping oil to Kaduna and gas to Kano. They are not necessary if we want to be honest to ourselves. If there is a single spill in Kaduna, it would last two generations because their soil does not have the resilience we have here. Even somewhere as close as Ogoni, the spills have difficulty in getting obliterated.
So you believe Capt Dakolo and co fought for restructuring?
Yes. The blind can see that and the deaf can hear. That was what they fought for. There has been a perennially sustained unfairness in this country. I am a privileged person. My mother is from Otuabagi where Nigeria’s first oil well was discovered. The Oil well, one was on my maternal ancestral land. That was where I was born. I did my secondary school at the Shell quarters. Now my paternal home, Gbarantoru where I am now King, is also the hub of SPDC most valuable and expensive onshore installation. So the oil story is my story. Peretobo Dakolo’s mother is my mother and his father is my father and he was even born before me so he saw the bustling of the Topokiri forest when Shell headquarters in Nigeria was in Ogbia . He saw the exploits of Isaac Boro and co. Having become a student of Okirika Grammar School and later worked a bit in NPA and then later a cadet of NDA, you can see that it did not take long for him to understand that the injustice in this country if allowed to remain would send the country to an early grave. What they were doing was not for the Niger Delta region alone but for the viability and survival of the country called Nigeria. It is when you are dumb that you think restructuring favours one section and does not favour the other. Restructuring is bringing out the best in everyone. There are talents everywhere in Nigeria. There are resources everywhere in Nigeria. God placed oil in the bowels of Ekpetiama land so why shouldn’t we prosper from it. It is only in this country from all over the wide world that a Yoruba would plant Kola and someone else is doing Kola business and not him; and then the Hausa man would plant groundnut and someone else is doing groundnut business; and Ijaw man would have oil and someone else is doing oil business and not him.
So you were not surprised that he was involved in the coup?
No, I was not surprised because he was a regular combatant of 25 Regular Course. He has signed to die for Nigeria, so anything that is injustice, he should stand against it. So I was not surprised. That is their calling and training.
Has your family forgiven IBB for executing your brother for fighting against injustice?
Well as an adult and knowing how the political game is, I would hold nothing against IBB as a person. I see him as a victim of ignorance. He is much of a victim as I am a victim. The Nigerian state is a victim. There is no group that is shouting uhuru. Babaginda was a victim then as he is still today, just as everyone. So I would be small-minded if I begin to hold a grudge against a drunk who mistakenly broke my glass. He told me they had a small tete a tete with Ken Saro Wiwa before the coup, as they were reaching out to prominent Niger Delta people about the future of the region. Putting what Capt Dakolo and co did in perspective they were the pace setters for the new era Niger Delta revolution which has snowballed into all kinds of disturbances all calling for the same one thing. Nigeria needs to express gratitude to Capt. Dakolo for their foresight and for paying the supreme sacrifice because to pay the supreme price for the sake of bringing about an awareness which has captured the political and social space is no mean feat and the earlier the people wake up and honour them the better for us.