Despite widespread condemnation of the war threat by some Niger Delta militants if President Goodluck Jonathan loses the February 14 presidential election, some socio-political and cultural groups in the South-East and the South-West have backed the militants.
The groups made their positions known in separate interviews with SUNDAY PUNCH.
At a meeting with the Governor of Bayelsa State, Seriake Dickson, on January 24, which had a former Commander of the Movement for the Emancipation of the Niger Delta, Victor-Ben Ebikabowei, aka Boyloaf; leader of the Niger Delta Peoples Volunteer Force, Mujahid Dokubo-Asari; and Government Ekpudomenowei, aka Tompolo, the militants had threatened unrest if the President loses his second term bid.
The Ohanaeze Ndi’gbo argued that what the militants meant was that if the election is not fair and credible and Jonathan loses, they will reject the result. This, the Igbo group said, “is a right position to take.”
The National Publicity Secretary of Ohanaeze, Mr. Osita Oganah, quoted the All Progressives Congress as also saying if the election was rigged and its candidate, Gen. Muhammadu Buhari (retd.) lost, the party would form a parallel government.
“There’s nothing wrong in that too,” he added.
Oganah stated, “We, the Igbo, are in support of what the militants have said to the extent that they’re putting Independent National Electoral Commission under pressure. Their comments should move the INEC to do its best so that every would-be voter gets his or her Permanent Voter Card. Nobody must be disenfranchised.
“These militants are Nigerians–they belong to this country and want the best for this country. What the militants have said is not out of place. I don’t see any reason why the Temporary Voter Card cannot be used.
“If the electorate is unable to get PVCs, it’s INEC’s fault and not theirs; making that statement is to ensure that if the election is conducted well, Jonathan will win.”
Similarly, the Oodu’a Peoples Congress said the recent attacks on Jonathan’s campaign train in the northern part of the country made the militants to rise in the President’s defence.
The National Coordinator, OPC, Mr. Gani Adams, said, “They are entitled to their opinion. There are different ways of approaching the election. They spoke based on the attacks on Jonathan in Katsina and Bauchi. When some politicians wanted to frustrate (former President Olusegun) Obasanjo in 2002, we (OPC) rose up to confront them.”
In the same vein, the Progressive Movement for the Actualisation of the Sovereign State of Biafra, a breakaway faction of MASSOB, said the militants were right with their position.
The Director of Information, Progressive MASSOB, Mr. Uchenna Madu, said while the group was not political, it shared the general political interest of Igbo people.
He said, “What they said was true. If Jonathan loses the election, there would be a greater height of militancy in the Niger Delta region; if Buhari loses, insurgency will increase. It is on both sides.”
However, the Afenifere Renewal Group stated that the militants were not the electorate that would determine who would win or lose the election.
The National Publicity Secretary, ARG, Mr. Kunle Famoriyo, said the country practises democracy and there should not be dictatorship. He added that the electorate should not be coerced into voting for anybody.
Also, Afenifere condemned the position of the militants.
The spokesperson for the socio-political group, Mr. Yinka Odunmakin, said, “The drumbeats of war from the Niger Delta and the North are unacceptable. We, the Afenifere, condemn the call for war by the Niger Delta militants.
A former Minister of Defence and ex-Chief of Army Staff, Lt.-Gen. Theophilus Danjuma (retd.), had on Wednesday called for the arrest of the militants.
He described their threats as “unguarded and reckless,” warning that “miscreants” must not be allowed to hold the country by the jugular.