A Nigerian youth leader has come under criticism after declaring that the Niger Delta region cannot guarantee the country’s peace if President Goodluck Jonathan is prevented from running for a second term in 2015.
“That’s what I said and I stand by it,” said Alhaji Mujahid Dokubo-Asari, leader of the Niger Delta People’s Volunteer Force (NDPVF).
“The president must be retained [because] he has two terms of four years each, making eight years, and this is constitutional, for the people of the south-south,” he continued. “So nobody can take the remainder of our four years. So as long as that is constitutional, they must allow him to remain for the eight years.”
Dokubo-Asari also stirred controversy when he said the Niger delta region, which produces most of Nigeria’s oil, will resume claims to the region’s resources after Jonathan’s second four year term ends.
“The same thing will happen if somebody from the south-east does not emerge [after Jonathan] as president for another eight years. We will take back our resources and we have the power to do so, and we are not going to be apologetic about it,” he said.
Dokubo-Asari’s comments came at a recent news conference in the capital, Abuja, where he questioned reports that some elders from the north are opposed to Jonathan’s second term bid.
He said there have been more presidents from the north than the country’s south since Nigeria gained independence from Britain in 1960.
Dokubo-Asari said it is about time for people from the south to lead the country.
“Where in the world is [it that] one section of a country will have monopoly of power? Those days are gone and gone forever,” Dokubo-Asari said. “It is the time for the south-south and the people of the south-east. If Jonathan finishes, the south-east must rule, after the south-east, the Christian middle belt will rule,” he said.
Some Nigerians condemned his remarks, saying they are a recipe for disunity that could plunge the country into chaos and insecurity.
Arewa Youth Forum (AYF), a group from the north, warned Dokubo-Asari to stop “beating the war drums over the re-election of President Jonathan in 2015.”
Mr. Jonathan has been criticized for not being able to resolve the country’s security crisis despite repeated efforts.
Dokubo-Asari disagreed, saying Jonathan is not to blame for the security problems.
He questioned why state governors have not resolved the security challenges in their respective states in spite of the budgeted funds as well as the deployment of national security agencies to help them.
“This crisis did not start during the time of Jonathan, and not only that, the northern elders came out openly to say that they will make the place ungovernable,” said Dokubo-Asari. “The consequences of what they said is what is upon us because there are deterrents in other parts of the country, especially in the Niger-delta. They [Boko Haram] have not been able to come down here, so they have carried out their activities within their enclaves.”
But, Dokubo-Asari said the Nigeria’s security challenges – much of them caused by the Islamic militant group, Boko Haram -- could be part of a plan to embarrass the administration.
Meanwhile, Governor Babangida Aliyu of Niger State has called on the country’s police chief to being investigations into Dokubo-Asari’s statements, which he said could aggravate the country’s security situation.