The National Coordinator and Chief Executive Officer (CEO), Centre for Peace and Environmental justice, Comrade Sheriff Mulade, in this interview with the Press in Warri, says that there is relative peace in most host oil communities but the Niger Delta is still in a state of comatose, ravaged by environmental degradation, harassment by security operatives and staved from sustainably developing itself, that the military operations in the Niger Delta should wear human face and not to infringe on the rights of the people; that the 1 billion dollar that the federal Government intend to collect from the Excess Crude Account (ECA) should not be used to fight insurgency alone in the North, but should also be used to develop the Niger Delta and equip the police to provide security to all Nigerians; among other issues. ……. was there.
How do you see to the state of the Niger-Delta at the moment?
The Niger Delta is still in a state of comatose, ravaged by environmental degradation, harassment by security operatives and staved from sustainably developing itself. However, there is relative peace in most host oil communities and that should be applauded and appreciated by the government and oil companies.
Would you attribute the gradual economic stability being experienced by the nation to PANDEF’s intervention?
PANDEF has done a lot and is doing a lot to maintain peace and grow the economy of the Niger Delta and this translates to bigger economic development for Nigeria in general. PANDEF is committed to peace and sustainable development of the Niger Delta and Nigeria and therefore, will continue to intervene positively.
Do you think Buhari is committed to Niger-Delta development and peace?
The visit by the Vice-President Prof. Yemi Osinbajo some time ago indicated a positive direction to the Buharis commitment to a peaceful Niger Delta including the take-off approval for academic activities at the Maritime University Okerenkoko. However, more should be done and the security and military operations in the Niger Delta should wear human peace and not to infringe on the rights of the people
So far, how do you rate the current NDDC board? Do you see them alleviating the plight of the people of the Niger-Delta?
I have not seen any significant achievement by this current Board as to rate them high. To rate them appropriately, a lot still need to be done. I charge them to look at the development index and blue print of the Niger Delta and go back to re-jig the system for meaningful development. They should concentrate on projects that have direct impact to the lives of the people and then, the plight and sufferings of the people will be drastically reduced.
How do you see to the move by some persons in the Presidency to extend the tenure of Victor Ndoma-Egba led board of the NDDC?
That is politics. What does the Law establishing the Board and Commission say and what has been the precedence? These can guide us to make informed opinions on this.
Can we really say that Niger-Delta are enjoying the dividends of democracy?
The dividends in terms of free expressions and grass root politics. A lot is yet to be done in terms of economic dividends. It is not yet uhuru for the Niger Delta
There has been clamour for restructuring of the Nigerian state as a way out of the problems in the country. Do you concur?
We need economic and political restructuring in terms of carrying every group along. The unity of the country is non- negotiable.
Are you really convinced that Nigeria is making positive impacts under Buhari?
The fight against corruption is making positive impacts. Government and elected officials are now careful because they know that the people will hold them accountable.
How do you see to the Federal Government plan to collect $1 billion from the Excess Crude Account (ECA) to fight Boko Haram insurgency?
The money should not be used to fight insurgency alone in the North, it should also be used to develop the Niger Delta and equip the police to provide security to all Nigerians and not to fight Boko Haram alone.
What is your take on resource control and devolution of power?
The Niger Delta has clamoured for resource control for years now. States should control their resources and pay an agreed sum to the central government. Equally, Host oil communities should have a set per cent age from proceeds from the resources in their communities and can use it to develop based on their priorities and needs. Local government autonomy is imperative. When power is devolved to the grass root, development is faster and more impactful.
Would you say the president is doing enough to bring the country together?
I am still watching his actions and in actions, this will help me make an informed opinion at the appropriate time
Don’t you think Buhari is better than Jonathan in governance?
(Opinions and answers here are relative and based on perceptions.
One Petroleum Industry Bill (PIB), what is your take on this issue?
My take is that the Bill should be passed in such a state that it will be a win-win for all stakeholders including Host oil communities and in such manner that it promotes and up holds transparency.
In what way, can we address Nigeria’s Security challenges for sustainable peace and development?
A true democracy will guarantee freedom, liberty and equity as well as enhance security of lives and property. These, will eventually, promote the culture of peace and engender sustainable development. Patience and continuous dialogue, respect of individual rights and a cordial military (security) civilian relationship with mutual respect invariably will ameliorate the security challenges and then, peace will reign.