Bayelsa APC Journey and new rules of Engagement in the Niger Delta (2) By Preye Aganaba

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Our people need to calm down. You don’t approach every issue with the same old and failed strategy. Not every problem needs a hammer as solution. This government is not the same as Mr Obasanjo’s in 1999 or Yar’adua’s in 2007 nor that of Jonathan in 2011 all under the PDP. There has been a tectonic shift in the political landscape of Nigeria that will continue to reverberate for many years to come.  Something fundamental and previously unheard of happened in Nigeria. For the very first time in Nigeria, an opposition party won an election at the centre; effectively uprooting PDP the political party  the Nigerian Military Oligarchy established to rule Nigeria forever out of government and power. The era of ” carry-go” is effectively over.

With the above in mind, you don’t approach the government formed by a party which won such an election the same way you approached the military inspired PDP government. Our approach must be different.

The fact that all our institutions like the IYC, INC, ELDERS FORUMS and ELDER STATESMEN etc openly took sides with a particular political party and even proclaimed our state and region as an exclusive preserve and property of that party prior to the elections should be an eye opener and a big lesson for all of us going forward.

And after losing such an election, you do not suddenly turn around to think that you can use the same outmoded methods employed under the PDP to set an agenda for the new government. Whether the APC succeeds with its objectives or not, this fact should not escape those who seek to engage the government from our state and region.

The only reason such a meeting was called despite the explanations offered after the meeting was called off is because some persons thought there’s a vacuum. A political vacuum that could be exploited to move back into a pole position to effectively call the shots in the region. But the point must also be made that there’s no leadership vacuum in the region. People only need to come to terms with the concrete reality that there is a new Sheriff in Aso Rock. The time for “business as usual” is gone for good.

It is curious that the same political actors who encouraged the convocation of the ill-fated meeting by the ex-MEND leader later realised the futility of such a meeting and tactically called for its cancellation even after the presidency in a statement from the SA Media, Femi Adesina had said the ex-agitators were free to meet. The Bayelsa State government sent a combined security team to shut down the venue but said nothing when people blamed the Presidency for doing so. The next minute it issued another statement claiming a meeting with the ex-leaders will soon hold to settle the issues and forward same to the presidency. It is high time we stopped playing politics with such issues within the region.

One surprising feature of President Buhari’s visit to the United States is the non-inclusion of the Niger Delta Question in any of the public policy discussions. This was even more surprising especially at the event at The United States Institute for Peace (USIP).  Despite the general success of the trip, reducing the Niger delta question even in the President’s speech to the issue of oil theft alone will not assuage the feelings of many in the region especially in a complex society like Nigeria.

Despite the abysmal failure of the Jonathan government in the development of the Niger Delta, Nigerians voted for change, and that change must be all-inclusive. From environmental pollution in the region to checking the excesses at the NDDC, where President Jonathan’s appointees still hold sway in alleged misapplication of funds to meet political needs of the new opposition party the PDP. It is high time the new APC government organised a major summit on the Niger Delta. Even if her oil wells dry up, the Niger Delta region will still remain the beautiful bride of Nigeria and should be treated as a priority even though it was criminally neglected by its own under President Jonathan. At this juncture, let us return to the intrigues surrounding our efforts to sow the APC seed in Bayelsa state.

After the successful opening of our party secretariat, the police authorities started playing cat and mouse with most of us. On getting back to Port Harcourt, they withdrew all the police attached to me and my business. The reason given was that they were used for illegal activities (escorting me to open a party Secretariat). They also withdrew and (and later returned) those attached to our party chairman. The former Chief of Staff to Chief Sylva, Chief Samuel Ogboku was arrested a few days later and charged as an accomplice to murder with the murder suspect himself as the chief witness to government. The “murderer”  himself was free while the person who he claimed sent him was kept in prison. Ogboku was in detention until the courts acquitted and discharged him in a judgement that was very harsh on the government and police just before the general elections where he was a candidate for the House of Representatives under the APC . Another was in prison awaiting trial for posting comments on Facebook. Somehow, most of us managed to send our families outside the country on “exile” before embarking on such a “suicide” venture.

If we had lost the presidency, I would have left this country. And sure others had the same plans. That was the only alternative. So it was not just another political thing for me and I believe for most of us who rode on the change train. It took me several months to reinstate my security to continue doing business. At a campaign stop at Amassoma (hometown of former Governor Alamieseigha) in February, the police withdrew all the security men within a minute and we were mobbed and attacked until a detachment of JTF soldiers who were passing by came to our rescue.

I cannot catalogue all the trials and tribulations we faced in our decision to support Buhari and our party. Yet, I hanged on because I strongly believe that the APC as a ruling party and President Buhari will be able to bring the needed change to a vast majority of our people.



While I was still writing, President Muhammadu Buhari appointed General Paul Tarila Boroh as the Coordinator of the Presidential Amnesty Programme. I’m glad the choice was a seasoned administrator with a background for peacekeeping.

Preye Aganaba is a Public Affairs commentator and APC candidate for Bayelsa central senatorial zone in the 2015 elections. He can be reached on [email protected]