Senator Christopher Ekpenyong is currently representing Ikot Ekpene Senatorial district of Akwa Ibom state on the platform of the People’s Democratic Party, PDP, after defeating Senator Godswill Akpabio of the All Progressives Congress (APC) in the 2019 elections.
He served as deputy governor during Obong Victor Attah’s administration. In this interview, he bares his mind on the agitations for self determination by some sections in the country. He also spoke about the chances of the Peoples Democratic Party, to reclaim power at the centre following failed promises of the ruling All Progressives Congress, APC.
How do you assess various agitations for self determination by IPOB and Odua Peoples Congress?
I don’t know what happened this morning, I prayed to God to strengthen our unity. I believe in unity in diversity. No tribe in Nigeria is so self sufficient. God blessed every part of this country with both human and natural resources. The North with its vast landmass produces potatoes, onions, Gold, Tin ore, tomatoes, and many others.
Bitumen, Cocoa are found in the West and from South East down to the South South, we have oil palm, coal, limestone, and the mighty crude oil which is the only thing that is keeping Nigeria one today. So for me, if Oduduwa and Independent People of Biafra (IPOB) are saying they want to secede, I am waiting for them to take the first step, then we will follow after them.
We are marginalised, humiliated, oppressed, yes, but let us try not to make the mistake of the past. I saw the civil war even though I was very young. Those boys that are agitating for war today have not seen war. I believe that there is something fundamentally wrong with Nigeria, but our diversity can work if we do the right thing.
Unfortunately, you see one part of the nation oppressing the rest. Today all security apparatus are headed by one tribe, which has never happened in the history of Nigeria. We have over 250 tribes in Nigeria, and why can’t we interact with each other, coexist, why can’t we respect every group, instead of one ethnic group oppressing others. I was six years old when Nigeria had its independence and after 60 years I am still crying about the marginalisation, subjugation, denial of rights, oppression of people of my area, the then eastern region. So, I wouldn’t say no to Oduduwa, I wouldn’t say no to IPOB because it could be they feel that their people have been pushed to the wall for too long.
In your own opinion, how has Nigeria fared generally since 1960?
Since 1960 we have made tremendous improvement in some areas. The airports that are available today were not there. Most of the Universities that we have today were not there. I think what we were able to build was University of Nigeria Nsukka, UNN, then Ahmadu Bello University, Zaria ABU, University of Ibadan.
So, most of what we have today is a product of our independence. However, the decayed infrastructural facilities are worrisome and with our massive wealth, most of our roads are still in bad condition, particularly in the South South, South East. Since the civil war that ended in 1970, we are still not seen as part and parcel of Nigeria.
We are marginalised, humiliated, that is the way I look at it. But as an independent nation we’ve tried to grow. We would have made mistakes, yes, but we have tried to correct our mistakes. As a result of our mistakes, there was a civil war between 1967 to 1970. And if not for many years the military was in power, I think we would have fared better today. Even after they handed it over to the civilian government in 1979, they still came back in 1983. We were regions, doing well too and the military came and balkanized the country, they created States. Even the states they created, there was inequality because you see one ethnic group having more states than the rest. Annang where I come from was a province. If they had wanted to do justice in the creation of states, they would have turned every province into a state.
So, I believe Nigeria would have fared better today if there were no military interruptions. And after 60 years our political system has not changed for the better. Unlike in those days of old, most leaders we have today are people who represent their personal, selfish interests. The COVID-19 pandemic has so exposed a lot regarding our health sector. If not for God, this one they said they are doing testing, how many testing centers do we have in each of the local government areas?
How will you assess the leadership of the APC government so far?
To state the fact, this administration led by President Muhammadu Buhari came on board in 2015, so Buhari has spent about five years now. Let me remind you, when he was campaigning ahead of the 2015 general election, he promised that he would solve the myriads of problems of Nigeria, ranging from security to economic problems in six months if elected. They said Boko Haram would be a thing of the past because they had the theory and the strategy. So we said, ah! a magician is coming to make a difference.
Our thinking then was that probably the exchange rate that was N160 to a dollar at the black market would reduce, because of what he did in 1985 as a military head of state, by ensuring that the exchange rate then was nearly one naira to a dollar. Some of us also thought that our debt profile was going to be reduced because as a head of State, Buhari brought the concept and theory of bartering which at that time helped in the payment of the debts Nigeria was owing using proceeds from oil, which is our common wealth. So we thought that same magic would be done too so that Nigeria would be debt free.
But the Minister of Information, Lai Mohammed is telling us a different story today. For goodness sake, today it is almost five hundred naira (N500,00) to a dollar. We were told that food would be sufficient. In fact, I also thought that by now the security forces; the Army, Police would have been properly equipped and well paid to ensure the security of the country against kidnapping, insurgency, banditry. In the 1980’s we didn’t hear of banditry in this country until recently. They promised us steady power supply, but the epileptic power problem is still there today.
And today this government has gone to sign an agreement with the Siemen company, the same German company brought into this country by late M.K.O Abiola to handle our communication system that almost ruined Nigeria. Our communication system would have stagnated if Siemen was still around today. I can’t even understand why people would go and bring back Siemen to come and handle our power system, when other companies are there.
And the main problem of power in this country is not generation but transmission. For me, unless the Federal government hands off the control of electricity completely, there will be no improvement. In spite of their failure to fix things you still hear some people sometimes saying if you are in APC, you are a saint.
Most of them that are in APC today were in PDP yesterday. So how can you now say the party that offered you a platform to serve is now a filthy party? Amaechi was in PDP. He came all the way from Ghana and was installed as governor of Rivers State, and he served for eight years on the platform of PDP. Because he is now in APC he is a saint, when was he washed and canonized a saint? The same applies to the man I defeated, Godswill Akpabio, when he was in PDP, he ate, drank PDP. Immediately after he went to the APC he became a saint.
This is the problem we have in Nigeria. So, I get worried that things have not changed that much. This is a failed government. Under this administration, there is problem of lopsided policy in terms of appointments, employment, the insecurity has worsened. They even promised that they are taking us to the next level, is being killed on daily basis all about taking them to the next level?
With the alleged failure of APC to fulfill its promises to Nigerians, do you see chances of your party, the PDP returning to power in 2023?
We have enormous chances. In fact my prayer is that God should open the eyes of Nigerians to what is happening today. I am happy that Edo people voted wisely and put Adams Oshiomhole to shame. When he (Oshiomole) was a governor he was shouting against Godfatherism and today he wants to be the political Godfather of Edo State. And for me the Edo election showed that Nigeria is unhappy with the APC government.
But you will see some of their leaders going to the television, radio to say “we are doing well.” How are they doing well when in their states there are no good roads, nothing? They are doing well and they cannot pay workers salaries, they are doing well and they cannot pay pensioners. If Nigerians want to survive, absolutely there should be a change of power. So the only way Nigerians can come out of this prison the APC government put them is to vote them out in 2023 like we witnessed in Edo State.
How will you react to alleged inability of the 9th Senate to challenge the executive on some issues such as incessant borrowing which has made the legislature to be seen as a rubber stamp?
I am from the opposition party (PDP). And we were about 44 PDP senators until we recorded few deaths recently. I want you to know that the senate is made up of people of integrity. The senate is where you will find people of noble professions, people that have held different positions of authority in the society before they came to the Senate. So, we are not rubber stamp. We don’t support anything that is not in the best interest of Nigeria. The fact that we don’t call for impeachment of the president doesn’t mean that we are rubber stamp.
We, in the opposition minority try to encourage the majority to ensure that the promises they had made to Nigerians such as the issue of security are realised. For instance, when they bring a bill that probably seeks an increase in the revenue for the Army, or Nigeria Police Force, or any of the armed forces, rationally we should support it.
But then we have to do oversighting to know to what extent the new resources you are looking for will help to check the menace of insecurity, the insurgency in North East, the kidnappings, the banditry in the north west, the militancy in the Niger Delta, no rational senator will say he will not support such a bill. So supporting such a bill doesn’t mean that we are weak or rubber stamp, no, we are not.
Also if the executive through the President brings a request that he wants to borrow money and shows that the money is not going to be used for aggrandisement but to provide infrastructure, what we now do is look at it to see if the infrastructural development they want to carry out that the Federal character principle is reflected. That is why sometimes you see people saying South East, South South is not accommodated, why is it so? Of course the majority will have their way, but the minority will have their say. So it is all about politics of rationality, and wanting the nation to get out of the present condition of infrastructural deficit.
And even sometimes when we the minority say this loan you are requesting for should not be collected because what you said it will be used for is not well defined, and the majority APC will say, don’t mind them, when their party was in power they were also collecting loans, and they never told us what they used it for. People look at it as a kind of weakness, that we are rubber stamp because we are not carrying guns, we are not abusing the president. Senators are people of integrity.
As a prominent stakeholder in the Niger Delta region, how will you react to Governor Udom Emmanuel’s request to the Minister of state for Petroleum to ask ExxonMobil to relocate its headquarters to Akwa Ibom?
I was a deputy governor of this state for six years, one month and five days and we started the fight for the relocation of ExxonMobil to Akwa Ibom then, but we did not succeed. What we did was to go back to the drawing board with Governor Victor Attah demanding promotion of our indigenes in ExxonMobil, and that was why Udom Inoyo became a beneficiary of that struggle, and of my write up too. As a deputy governor I was writing, using some national newspapers.
At a stage I found out that we were fighting a lost battle, because the location of the administrative office of ExxonMobil was based on politics. And most of the major shareholders of ExxonMobil are our brothers of the West, let us state the fact. The then governor of Lagos State, Asiwaju Bola Tinubu worked there, he was a treasurer of ExxonMobil. My suggestion then as deputy governor to my governor, Victor Attah was “let us not fight a battle that we will not win, but we should ask for the relocation of the Oil Servicing companies”; that is probably why you can find some of them (servicing companies) in Eket today. In 2001 there were about 150 oil servicing companies.
Aside that I asked my governor to tell ExxonMobil, that as a matter of commitment, they must also employ indigenes of Akwa Ibom state. Also, we said we could look at our children who were competent and send them abroad to further their studies so that when they came back ExxonMobil could employ them.
So the governor should not beg, he should exercise his authority as a governor of the state. The land which ExxonMobil is drilling is Akwa Ibom land and as a governor, you can decide to withdraw their C of O. Why is he begging them? However I commend my governor for the 21-storey building which provides good ambience for the oil company to relocate some of their administrative offices to the state, so that they will no longer have an excuse of not having office accommodation.
Do you support the argument in some circles that the next governor can come from any of the senatorial districts after Governor Udom Emmanuel must have completed his tenure in 2023 ?
We have a political platform and our party is yet to tell us what it is planning for 2023. But if the party decides to throw the governorship position open, I will contest because I have everything to my advantage to contest. And I assure you that I will make one of the best governors. I will run an inclusive government. I will deliver. What will I be looking for now at my age except to give my people good governance.
What is your take on the removal of fuel subsidy by the government?
My take on subsidy removal is simple. I am appealing to Nigerians to allow subsidies on petrol products to be removed. If we don’t remove the subsidy, it means that we will continue to have an increase in the pump price of Premium Motor Spirit, that is fuel.
But from my own understanding if subsidy is removed our refineries would be made to start working again. I believe the effect of the subsidy removal will only last for a while, people will survive because when more refineries are established in the country and they start refining here, the product will be available and the pump price will go down. Some of our leaders even in the Senate are against removal of subsidy because they are benefitting from subsidy.
I have come to see that it is not the common man on the street who is enjoying subsidy. And so my appeal is that Nigerians should not allow the money or the benefit from subsidy to continue to be in the hands of a few rich individuals in this country. Some of us are not in the All Progressives Congress party but we are progressive thinkers. Nothing good comes without suffering.
The Solution To Nigeria’s Problem Only Lies On Dismemberment
The Solution To Nigeria’s Problem Only Lies On Dismemberment. In the year 1914, distinct ethnic nationalities with irreconcilable value systems, cultures and…
In the year 1914, distinct ethnic nationalities with irreconcilable value systems, cultures and religious beliefs were forcefully brought together by the British colonialists for purely underlying selfish intentions. This is meant to economically impoverish the indigenous people groups even perpetually. Successive Nigerian governments with human face, have courageously tried to rewrite the fundamentally structured wrongs orchestrated by the British without positive results. The contracted British enterprise called Nigeria has persistently remained unworkable over the decades even after the flag independence of 1960.
Recall that Nigerian government perpetrated genocidal war against the Biafran people in 1967, resulted from the gross incompatibility of the Arewa, Oduduwa and the Biafran people that were lumped together for the easy actualization of the British economic intent. Several militating factors however, account for the cracks on the wall of co-existence. They are brazen lopsided appointments of individuals to different offices which are necessitated by nepotistic sentiments by the Nigerian government via-a-vis the morbid enthronement of the Fulanis into top leadership hierarchy in the military. Undeniable evidences glaringly abound that the so-called South-East and South-South regions particularly, are being intentionally marginalized from accessing those sensitive offices.
From the Army, Navy, Airforce, Customs, Immigration to the Police, the Fulanis are the ones dictating the pace. More worrisome is the sinister and very dangerous tactics being adopted by the Northern cabals to absorb with crass impunity, the so-called repentant Boko Haram terrorists into the military and police with the backdoor mandate to officially decimate Biafrans even at the slightest provocation.
With several cases of unprovoked abduction, shooting, maiming and killing of unarmed, peaceful family members of the Indigenous People of Biafra (IPOB) and Shi’ite protesters, sane individuals would fully understand the grand mission of these “dare-devil” radical Islamists. Their mandate is to totally exterminate all the non-Fulanis with the backup intention of taking over their ancestral lands. How can one really explain the situation whereby a student that scored two hundred and and fifty (250) points in Joint Admission Matriculation Board Examination (JAMB) and well qualified for admission into a tertiary institution, is denied the opportunity while his Northern counterpart with just eight (8) points is considered?
The present Nigerian President (Muhammadu Buhari), never pretended about his Islamisation agenda right from his assumption of office in 2015. He has surreptiously authorized the introduction of Sharia law to run simultaneously in the so-called secular/republican Nigeria. The over blotted inalienable right of the Northerners especially the Fulanis has given them the temerity to kill, maim, rape, destroy and occupy at will without any arrest or arraignment in the court of law.
No matter the enormity of the crime being perpetrated, they remain favorably shielded. It is on this premise that the Fulani killer herdsmen can invade farmlands with their cattle and kill the farmers for daring to raise eye-brows without consequences. Thousands of Christians and their churches/homes have been killed and destroyed in the North without a singular prosecution of the perpetrators. Yet the deluded claim remains that Nigerians are one. A trip to the Eastern region (South-East and South-South), will provoke irresistable tears from your eyes due to the deplorable state of most of the federal roads therein. Like what one of the so-called founding fathers of Nigeria said: “oil and water can never mix”.
It is only a mentally deranged individual that will derive pleasure co-habiting with people who have absolutely no pretense of their hatred for you as a human. This is blatantly reflected in their policies, quota-system administration and the lopsided/nepotistic appointments which clearly show that some citizens are more valued than others even in the same country. When the Fulanis are in control of all things to their advantage, how then could anybody expect enjoying same right with them? The Fulanis are above arrest/arraignment no matter their crimes.
The Special Anti-Robbery Squad (SARS) of the Nigerian police does not lay siege on the North nor harass their citizens. If after you are done reading through this write up and you still believe in the “One-Nigeria” scam, then something is fundamentally wrong somewhere. Nigeria is constitutionally designed to favor the Northern caliphate and doing the opposite is purely delusional. The clear mission of the rampaging Islamic terrorists in the name of herdsmen, Boko Haram and all those in the Nigerian army/police uniforms, hinges on the total extermination of all the indigenous people encaged in the Nigerian contraption.
That is why the bonafide indigenous governor of Borno State recently came under deadly attacks of the Boko Haram terrorists. It is the same reason why Kaduna and Plateau States are equally under the same terrorists attacks. Biafraland has had and yet having it’s fair share of Islamic terror attacks both from the Fulani killer herdsmen and their counterparts in the Nigerian military and police. They have enormously had enough and now is the time to exit this devilish concoction of a country that majors in lopsided/nepotistic appointments, slavery and blood-sucking policies.
People are being rampantly killed, with the government not decisively taking actions to stem the evil tide. SARS operatives are arrogantly brandishing their guns, victimizing and killing at will, the innocent citizens they are supposed to protect. Nigeria is totally a graveyard where nothing progressively advantageous is structured. Let all sane individuals entrapped therein pro-actively reason and take decisions before it becomes belated. Things cannot be allowed to continue this way. Never!
Written by Loveson Agweye
Edited by Peter Oshagwu
For Family Writers Press International
You Can’t Stop Biafra, Oduduwa Agitators By Force Of Arms Only – Atiku Abubakar Tells FG
Former Vice President, Atiku Abubakar, has said ‘force of arms alone’ cannot dissuade agitators of Biafra and Odudua Republics from continuing with their demand to exit Nigeria.
According to Atiku, until the Nigerian leadership lives up to the country’s motor of ‘Unity and Faith, Peace and Progress’, and untill every citizen feels carried along, calls for separation would continue to arise.
The former vice president stated this in his message to Nigerians on the country’s 60th anniversary.
“We cannot defeat separatist groups by force of arms alone; we can only defeat separatism by making all Nigerians feel like they belong. And this is only possible when we live up to the words of our national motto: Unity and Faith, Peace and Progress,” he said.
Atiku also cautioned the federal government against incessant borrowing, which he claims threatens the country’s economic independence.
“As a nation, we asserted our independence in our infancy by lending to other nations. We must be careful not to lose the hard-won independence of our heroes’ past. By learning to live within our means, we can put a stop to the needless borrowings that threaten our economic independence.
He added that, “Our nation is in dire need of healing. We must foster unity and douse the tense atmosphere which is breeding feelings of alienation. We must promote freedom of speech and freedom after the speech.
“As such, in the spirit of our 60th Independence Anniversary, I call on the Federal and state governments, to release all political prisoners and detainees, and discontinue the prosecution of such individuals. If Nelson Mandela could reconcile with those who imprisoned him for twenty-seven years, we can reconcile with those who have disagreed with us.”
Atiku further on those, “who have taken up arms against Nigeria to have a rethink. Whatever differences they may have with the rest of Nigeria, whether religious, ethnic or political, terror, violence and separatism are not the way. Let us learn from history. In Ireland, Israel, and the Balkans, such groups have seen the wisdom in giving up armed struggle for participation in the political process.
“There is much wisdom in the saying that to jaw jaw is better than to war war. We must accept the reality that we are all brothers and sisters sired by our fatherland,” he said
Short Open Letter To Mazi Nnamdi Kanu, The IPOB Leader
FROM OUR HEART….. THE GOOD PEOPLE OF ODUDUWA REPUBLIC.. ..
MAZI NNAMDI KANU…
WE THE ODUDUWA REPUBLIC VOLUNTEER COMMANDERS ARE HEREBY WRITE THIS BRIEF NOTE TO OFFICIALLY INFORM YOU SIR, THROUGH EVERY MEDIA PLATFORM AT OUR REACH ON A PUBLIC OPEN LETTER THAT OUR ODUDUWA AGITATING FOR FREEDOM IS NEVER IN ANY FORM DESIGNED TO ATTRACT AN OPPORTUNITY OF SUPPORT TO OUR BROTHER (FOR NOW) ALHAJI ASIWAJU AMED TINUNBU AMBITION FOR FUTURE PRESIDENT OF NIGERIA WE NEVER IN ANY WAY INTEND TO DROP THIS AGITATION EVEN IN ANY CONFRONTATION OF ANY KIND..
WE ARE OUT AND OUT FOR ALL WHAT WE WANT IS FREEDOM FROM ANYTHING THAT HAS TO DO WITH NIGERIA … IF WE FAIL NOW WE FAIL FOR EVER.. OUR PEOPLE LOVE MONEY AND POWER BUT WE ASSURE YOU, WE UNDERSTAND HOW TO TREAT THAT..
IF ALL CAN SEE, THERE IS NO DEVELOPMENT, IN LAGOS STATE BECAUSE ALL MONEY HAS BEEN RESERVED FOR 2023 PRESIDENTIAL ELECTION . LEAVE THAT FOR US ALL WE ASK YOU IS TO PERMIT US TO JOIN ALINE WITH GREAT . I. P. O. B. FAMILY .. IF OUR REQUEST IS GRANTED THEN WE PROMISE YOU THAT HERE COMES OUR FREEDOM ON THE STRINGENT OF THIS …. WE HEREBY ASK ALL GOOD PEOPLE OF ODUDUWA TO OBEY THE ORDER OF……. SIT@HOME ……. ON OCTOBER 1ST 2020 TO MARK AND BE REMEMBERED AS THE DAY WE THE ODUDUWA PEOPLE JOINED ALINE WITH THE INDIGENOUS PEOPLE OF BIAFRA …
THANK YOU AND MAY ELOHIM BLESS YOU
GOD BLESS BIAFRA
GOD BLESS ODUDUWA.
HELP US SHARE WIDE.
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