Niger Delta Leaders Should Invest in People – Oyatedor
(First published in Sunday Sun, January 2, 2010 – Page 14)
Bayelsan-born United States-based motivational speaker and President Newstime International Company, Mr. Tony Oyatedor have declared that only genuine rehabilitation and reintegration of the “freedom fighters” in the Niger Delta could guarantee lasting peace in the oil-rich area. He said that without peace, the oil-rich region would never witness a meaningful development. In this interview with Sunday Sun, Oyatedor speaks on a wide range of issues, Excerpts…
Now that the amnesty to the militant seems to have been concluded, what in your view would be the next move?
All thanks and Glory is to GOD, who has given us another opportunity to be alive today. Having done that, let me make haste to say that it is not every time that we must criticize. To that extent, let me start by congratulating President Umaru Musa Y’aradua for granting amnesty to the freedom fighters, whom some want to refer to as militants. The problem in Niger Delta is the people themselves are seeking opportunities to rebuild the region, but the opportunity has not been given to them. The region is supposed to be an envy of Nigeria but unfortunately, it is now a laughingstock of the country. We must stop giving the people of the area fish, but we must be prepared to teach them how to fish. We cannot develop the infrastructure in the area; we cannot restructure the area unless we invest in the people. For every problem, there is a solution, and the only solution to Niger-Delta problem is a lasting peace.
How will the peace come?
It will only come through the genuine rehabilitation and reintegration of the freedom fighters (militants). And that is why we are packaging a seminar tagged; “Peace Attracts Development”. The peace Seminar, God willing, kicks off on January 14, 2010, and it is expected to go around all the six states in the region. We are embarking on this because we have come to realize that there is a lot to gain when there is peace. And the peace has come, and it must prevail. I have not come to condemn all the efforts others have put in, in the past, but to assist to build the region and by extension, the country. We must shun evil, and take to the path of good. It is true that we go to churches and mosques in Nigeria, but unfortunately, we don’t put into practice the lessons we receive from our places of worship, and that is one of our greatest headaches.
Also, our leaders don’t read, and because they don’t read, they lack the knowledge to lead us as well. The Bible says my people perish for lack of knowledge. We must read, read and read, and teach the leadership how to read so that together we can build a stronger nation.
What is your view on President Yar’Adua’s absence?
It brings us to the same issue of reading. Our leadership don’t read. I am urging the leadership to read, if those in leadership are reading, our problems would have been solved. The leadership is uninformed of what the problems are. The constitution was fashioned after the American constitution, and we saw how former President Bush resigned for two hours to allow his Vice President to take over. So in our case, the moral and ethical thing to do is already in the constitution, it should be followed to the latter. I was amazed to read in the papers that one of the senators said he know that that provision is in the constitution. And he did not know because he doesn’t read.
Also, in Nigeria, the governors don’t allow their deputies to function effectively. Everybody runs after the governor. Once the governor is not around, the state gets paralyzed forgetting that the offices they hold is for the good of the people and not for themselves alone.
Even in the homes, how many Nigerian husbands consult their wives before they take decisions? Most times, they make decisions alone; they do it unilaterally. And that is why is most homes, once the husband dies, the whole house crumbles because the wife has little or no information at all about certain vital things in the house.
No human being can do it alone.Yar’Adua cannot do it alone. Even in the Bible, Moses was told that he can not do it alone. And that is why Yar’Adua has ministers to assist him in carrying out the programs of the country. But it is best known to the ministers why things are not moving the way they ought to.
What is taking place today regarding Yar’Adua’s absence, should not be taking place. But it is taking place because nobody is making any concrete explanation. We as Nigerians, must stop the blame game, and start asking questions when there is a national crisis such as the one we have presently.
The media too to me appears not to be doing enough. Once the man comes back, the media should be able to ask him, ‘how fit are you? Were you able to carry out your functions efficiently and effectively for the period you were away?’. I believe these are some of the questions the media should be asking once the man comes back. I pray the President returns to the country alive.
Do you have any reservations on Ibori’s temporal victory over EFCC?
I don’t like the way that question is framed. You’re giving an impression of a war situation, where we expect a winner and a loser. In any case, before the law court, I expect the prosecutor to provide every available fact necessary to prosecute to a logical conclusion. But where the prosecutor can’t succeed in doing that, I would not ascribe to your suggestion. As such, I believe that an accused will remain innocent until proven guilty.
What is your advice to Niger-Delta people in positions of Authority?
Nigerian leaders generally do not read the Holy Books. Praying alone cannot solve our problems. If our leaders read the Holy Books and practice what are written in them, honestly, they will find it difficult to hurt a fly. I beg them, they must learn to invest in their people than in themselves. Northerners will not come and develop Niger-Delta for us; we must rise now and do it ourselves. And to do that, we must put our house in order. We are a population of about 140 million people in the country, but only 140 people are prospering.
I met an Ijaw man recently, who was once a big man in this country and a cousin to Asari Dokubo. I believe that if that man had invested in Dokubo, Dokubo would have in turn invested in a lot of other people and that area would not have been in the sorry state we find it today.
Saud Arabia is a desert but filled with oil and they are making the best of the opportunities. But in Nigeria, we are fortunate to be blessed with all kinds of natural resources. We do not reverently fear God and so we are messing up opportunities. It is time for us to change. Every benefit you give in this country will come back to Nigerians. If you die today, nobody will remember you for anything, except for the good you did before your death, and that is the only thing that can save us in the hereafter, this was exactly what prophet Muhammed, may peace and blessings of Allah be upon Him, said this to his followers.
You live in an airconditioned house, with generators to power the house when there is no power supply from PHCN, but your next neighbor lives in perpetual darkness, and that does not in any way prick your conscience, to contribute your quota to the well-being of the society.
I tell the Niger-Delta people, if Dantata had not invested in Dangote, we would not have Dangote today. And this is why we must embrace peace in this new year so that by the time we are approaching another new year GOD willing by 2011, we can sit back and count our gains, which I believe we can achieve because peace attracts development, which is what we need the most now in the Niger-Delta. Once we can achieve peace, other things will follow.
Mark my words; I am organizing the peace seminar, not for any personal gains. I don’t live here, I live abroad with my family and we are very, very comfortable, but my heart grieves for my area and my nation and that is why I am passionate about this cause, may GOD help us all. Amen.
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