Annkio Briggs, the Niger Delta environmental and human rights activist and founder/director of Agape Birthrights, an NGO of over 20 years, and convener of the Niger Delta Self-determination Movement (NDSDM) live and works in her oil and gas-rich home state of Rivers, Nigeria. In this exclusive interview with Prime Business Africa, the activist, who prefers to be seen as having a mixed heritage of a British mother and an Ijaw father, says it’s time for Nigerians to rally behind a good president of Igbo extraction for fairness and justice.
What’s your general perception of the ongoing horse race for the 2023 presidency?
IN 2020, l concluded that the results of the 2023 elections were already decided.
The ongoing drama as usual is to deceive anyone who wants to be deceived. The northern political cabal (they know themselves) and their willing tools are in on this deception.
The candidacy of Bola Ahmed Tinubu is part of the strategic planning and execution of the plan to do the bidding of the cabal, which also includes an external and extreme plan, and finally, displace the indigenous ethnic nations from what the British met when they first landed in what is Lugard’s Nigeria today.
Tinubu’s statement that it is his life-long ambition to rule Nigeria is his ambition and not the ambition of Nigeria.
If he is coming out on the notion that it is the turn of Southern Nigeria, he needs to be reminded that his political zone has ruled for eight years as president in Olusegun Obasanjo and another eight years as vice president through Yemi Osinbajo. The Niger Delta people have served only five years but Ndigbo in the Southeast have not served this country since 1999.
You have consistently voiced support for a Nigerian president of Southeast extraction; why do you think the Igbo are justified in laying claim to the presidency at this time?
THE Igbo are justified to present Nigeria with an Igbo candidate on PDP and APC platforms, as they are part of Southern Nigeria; it is equity and this is what the Igbo nation should have planned and lobbied for in the South and then the North, begging for human anointing or approval. It is unjust that a section of Nigeria should be disregarded in this manner.
Indigenous Igbo people have as much right as any and all other Indigenous peoples of Nigeria to govern Nigeria. The obvious tendency from some other indigenous peoples to resist and reject the Igbo from presenting an indigenous Igbo daughter or son as president is oppressive.
But former President Goodluck Jonathan, also from the South-South region as you are, is rumored to be nursing another presidential ambition for 2023; being a consistent voice from that region, what do you therefore make of that seeming complexity, given that the Igbo are known to have given the ex-president enormous support and 95 percent of their votes in 2011?
AS someone who has been consistent with my beliefs and positions on political, developmental, and secure justice for the Niger Delta people and region, l believe what we want and need in the Niger Delta is Self-Determination and resource ownership. This demand is a right. I have said months ago (that) the only person who can speak authoritatively on the rumors is President Goodluck Jonathan.
There is no doubt that the Igbos gave Jonathan critical support in 2011 and 2015 and the Niger Delta should not forget this; after all, this is how politics roll in Nigeria and the unwritten understanding or acceptance that the presidency rotates between the North and South.
While the South West had the presidency for eight years and the Niger Delta had it for four years of elective presidency and one year (five years in all), the Igbo have had none yet.
What do you make of some allegations that the kind of political support Southeast appears to get from their South-South and Southwest counterparts is qualified with a caveat placing a burden on Ndigbo to produce what they call ‘sellable’ candidate. Some people believe that in democracy candidates can freely aspire and let Nigerians choose who they want?
WHEN l particularly expressed my frustration on the slow pace of the Niger Delta or Igbo people to show serious interest, it was because southerners and the 17 Southern governors are justified in their demands. Yet the Igbos or the Niger Delta are watching while the North who are rounding off their two tenures of four years are showing up with candidates on PDP and APC.
Let me, therefore, explain what l mean by sellable: No matter how much l will want to support someone from a zone, either from Niger Delta or Igbo, if l do not believe that the candidate presented can do the job it should be clear that l won’t vote for that candidate. For instance, there are particular persons that will get the ticket on a party l won’t vote for. l am not telling Igbos who to pick but hoping the electorate will be seen as partners in the process of getting the right person. I hope this clears the negative assumptions or misunderstandings.
For instance, you have seen the negative responses from the South since certain persons declared their interest; that is the right of the electorate.
The electorate has the final vote, no matter who gets the ticket, a win is more likely when the candidate is solid.
Any daughter or son of Igbo or Niger Delta can get any political party nomination and your question agrees with me that it is Nigerians that will decide at the end barring rigging and federal might that end in killings of the innocent electorate.
Obasanjo was released from jail when his jailer died, he was picked by his military associates against the desires of the Yoruba who the presidency was ceded, which means the electorate had no say.
I am surprised at the analysis of Bola Ige, Falae, and Obasanjo contesting and Obasanjo winning. Surely, you don’t believe that, just because that was the call.
Kwankwaso, Shekarau, Atiku, Ribadau, Buhari contesting against themselves is their politics of regional interest and not personal interest.
Do you see any form of regional alignment between the Southeast and South-South with a view to actualising the dream of a Nigerian president of Igbo extraction preparatory to the 2023 general elections?
THE Southeast and South-South, in my opinion, and in our interest, should have by now worked through our interests and closed ranks politically. Although it is fair that each zone should serve two tenures of four years, it is obvious that the Niger Delta has served only one four-year tenure. Still speaking on fairness, the Igbos have not served at all.
I am surprised that, as l answer, this question, the Southeast and South-South have not had a real neighborly discussion on the political way forward and l am worried because, as the election is only 12 months away, we don’t have political commitment. This is worrisome. The Afenifere has committed to Igbo Presidency and PANDEF of Niger Delta and my humble self has also spoken up for an Igbo candidate. But just like in my zone and ethnic nationality when Jonathan was in the race for president, some of the strongest opposition was from Niger Delta. This is why you see Tinubu coming out, notwithstanding the fact that Yorubas have served their eight years. If there is no solid discussion between the Igbos and the Niger Delta, don’t be surprised to see a Niger Delta candidate emerge.
While Afenifere and some of us in the Niger Delta have spoken up for an Igbo president for justice and fairness, again l say it is worrisome that discussions, understandings, and alignments are not going on yet.
I am not a politician and l, therefore, don’t think like a politician but l am interested in what politicians do and say in my name.
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