As the postponed general elections approaches, several pressure groups and coalitions across the nation have reinforced their mobilization of support for their various candidates. Comrade Udengs Eradiri’s Ijaw Youth Congress is one of them, even though he insists the group is not a political one.
Eradiri, a Petroleum Engineer by profession is the sixth and current president of the IYC, which has members across six states (Akwa Ibom, Bayelsa, Cross River, Delta, Rivers and Ondo), as well as Abuja and Diaspora chapters (United Kingdom and South Africa). He spoke on a number of pressing issues and controversies, noting that, the body will do everything to protect President Goodluck Jonathan’s seat.
On National Unity
Nigeria is built on faulty foundations and until we resolve those errors, it will keep us in constant intellectual immorality. The National Confab has 50 per cent of the solutions to Nigeria’s issues.
Jonathan’s work in the Niger Delta
First, I must state that he was elected to be President of the country, not just the Niger Delta alone. He established 14 universities, with one in Otuoke, Bayelsa State and a Maritime university in Delta State with over 5000 students from Niger Delta there. Building capacity and giving education is important for young people and you can imagine how many of those students will grow to become leaders who can add value and help this country develop.
Local content policy is due to Jonathan and it is encouraging more of exports than imports. Nigerian vessels are what is moving our oil products and everywhere Nigerians are running Nigeria, with less foreigners.
Local manufacturing is meeting our consumption needs and that is why even though the naira is on a slide, food prices have not increased.
Then there is amnesty, which is one initiative that President Jonathan was instrumental in bringing to fruition. Amnesty was to be a tripartite agreement between FG, states and IOCs – the latter two have failed unlike FG. I challenged states for not having post-amnesty Programmes. I don’t completely support amnesty because it is enriching just a few of those who carried arms so it is good for this to be fixed.
Ijaw struggle and more on Amnesty
We are standing firm but we are not political. We have no choice but to stand by the president, as he is an Ijaw man. We see his role as a benefit of the Niger Delta agitation over the years from Isaac Boro to Ken Saro-Wiwa and the rest of us, so it isn’t just a Jonathan thing. We claim ownership of the second term for the South and Jonathan is just a beneficiary of it so we will do everything to protect that seat.
On “everything to protect that seat”
We never said there would be war; we just said that there should be a level playing field for all contestants. We only said that we would not accept the results if INEC skews the results in favour of anyone. I have always said that we will build bridges across ethnic nationalities and common sense will prevail in our supporting Jonathan.
However, let me be clear and add that we Ijaw people will never be intimidated by anyone. I have previously said that some of these media attacks on the president are necessary because you go through fire and brimstone so that you become a better person. I have always faulted the PDP as an institution because there are many questionable characters there and it is on this basis that I am campaigning for us to support him as an individual.
INEC and Post-election violence
IYC supports election shift because there were inconsistencies in INEC’s statement about the complexities in PVC collection and errors everywhere across the country. We join the call for non-violent polls.