Briggs: No region, religion or people can solely rescue Nigeria
Annkio Briggs is the Convener of Niger Delta Self Determination Movement and Chief Executive Officer (CEO) of Agape Birthrights Organisation, an NGO advocating for environmental, developmental, political and human rights. ln this interview with OBIRE ONAKEMU, he speaks on the state of the nation and what Nigerians should do to make the 2023 general elections give birth to a better Nigeria where fairness and equity reign.
What would you say about the state of the nation and the build-up to the 2023 polls?
The state of the nation is deplorable. Nigeria, a country of six political zones, 36 states and 774 local government areas with estimated population of over 200 million people, is supposed to be a democratic society. The government, irrespective of political party, is expected to deliver dividends of democracy, in terms of development of infrastructure and human capital, provision of security of life and property, clean and livable environment, ensure equity, justice, fairness, peace and accountability. Sadly, since independence in 1960 the government, one after the other, has failed the people in these regards to the point that one wonders if there is any hope or reason to continue. The build up to the 2023 elections, in my opinion and analysis, started before 2015.
The rising insecurity in the past eight years is part of the strategy of a group of Nigerians who think Nigeria is their piece of land to own, use and control. The controllers who are not members of the political party in power have no desire to let go of power despite their obvious failures.
What kind of politics can rescue our nation and take it to greatness?
Nigeria is supposed to be a democracy on the platform of federalism, equity and accountability. Politics is service to one’s nation and the people. Truth, credibility, equity, justice, and fairness are the pillars that will take Nigeria to greater heights. Nepotism will continue to kill Nigeria. No one state, region, religion or people can singlehandedly rescue Nigeria. The task of rescuing the country should be a collective responsibility.
Do you have a preferred candidate and what are your reasons?
There are three main candidates for the 2023 elections, in all truth, amongst the three, l will vote for Peter Obi. Age, credibility, humility, experience, compassion and accountability are some of the qualities of leadership that l see in him. Nigerians must not talk about fairness merely as a word, they must exhibit it by voting for Peter Obi.
1999 to 2007 South West of Southern Nigeria governed for 8years,
2007 to 2010 North West of Northern Nigeria governed for 3 years, Late Umaru Musa Yaradua.
2010 to 2011 Niger Delta of Southern Nigeria governed for 1 year, completing Yaradua’s tenure as stated by the 1999 Constitution, GEJ.
2011 to 2015 Niger Delta of Southern Nigeria governed for 4 years, GEJ.
2015 to 2023 North West of Northern Nigeria governed for 8 years Muhammad Buhari.
Fairness and equity is not a favour, it is a right. All Nigerians must support fairness and equity.
Obi is a candidate of South East zone that has not produced the president of the country. It is right that all zones support a capable Nigerian of South East and Peter Obi is that candidate.
Do you have confidence in the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) to deliver free and fair polls in 2023?
INEC, if it is made up of truthful people of different parts of Nigeria, should have no problems doing their jobs truthfully and fairly as is expected of them, with all the new electoral laws in place. The concern is, will INEC be truthful to the key word in its name, independent? The question is: Is INEC credible, independent and accountable to the electorate?
I remain doubtful, but when the Nigeria electorate and the world see the turnout, we will listen out for the election results. Though Nigeria’s elections in the past have been marred by violence, killings and rigging, it is up to Nigerians to demand free and fair elections from INEC and the electoral body owes Nigerians free and fair elections. The citizens should decide if they would accept rigged elections come February this year.
A northern governor says 2023 polls remains a two-horse. What is your reaction to that?
As usual, some northern politicians who believe Nigeria belongs to them are making statements and taking positions that remind us of Southern Nigeria and the statement credited to the Premier of the defunct Northern Region, Sir. Ahmadu Bello, published on October 12, 1960 in a newspaper, The Pilot referring to Nigeria as an estate of their great grandfather, Othman Dan Fodio. That claim remains amongst them till date. If the thinking is that the 2023 elections is a two-horse race, it means Peter Obi, a South East candidate, is of no consequence, that the other two is a win for them. I am not surprised by the arrogance of ownership claim. It is offensive and they don’t care because southerners delude themselves that they are in politics. l have observed that southern politicians don’t see themselves as being in the four yearly slave market.
What do you have to say about the political intrigues in the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) with regard to the aggrieved G-5 governors?
Governor Nyesom Wike of Rivers State and his fellow G-5 governors claim they had an understanding on equity, but they were short- changed. In my opinion, the moment the southern members of the PDP did not insist on zoning the presidential slot to the South, trouble started for the party. I was not surprised, what played out at the Eagle Square in Abuja is the way of northern politics. Take all!
Do you really think Wike is fighting against injustice in the PDP or he is merely pursuing self-interest?
I am from Niger Delta and Rivers State and l am not a child. The fight Governor Wike is fighting at this moment in PDP is a fight against the injustice of the north (political cabal) against the people of Southern Nigeria. The presidential slot should go to a southern candidate and specifically of South East on any political platform.
Do you think Atiku has what it takes to win without the support of the five governors?
The G-5 Governors are strategic governors of key zones. If the election will be free and fair, the presidential candidate that will emerge winner should win the G-5 states.
But the Atiku-Okowa Presidential Campaign Organization is insisting that the PDP will win at the first ballot. What is your reaction?
Nigeria politics is funny. There are predictions everywhere based on the conviction that if they get the rigging done, their winning is guaranteed, if not, on what poll or results do they base their boasting?
How do you see the leadership style of the APC?
As a citizen and having lived under APC government as a victim, I will say this government failed and is unable to deliver dividends of democracy.
What is your reaction to the statement of President Buhari that those calling for restructuring are ignorant?
In the past two decades or more, l have been amongst the people calling for restructuring, and not a single person is ignorant. The people resisting restructuring of Nigeria are ignorant of the truth and reality that the continued rejection of the call to restructure can break Nigeria.