As President of the Agape Birthright, spokesperson of the Ijaw Republican Assembly (IRA) and also the United Niger Delta Energy Development Security Strategy (UNDEDSS), Briggs is a force to reckon with on matters concerning the Niger Delta and in this interview culled from VANGUARD, the fiery activist speaks on the 2015 presidential election and assertions by some Ijaw activists on the sustenance of the Jonathan presidency.
According to Ms Briggs, Nigerians are in their present predicament because they gloss over certain things some group of persons say especially as it concerns the 2015 elections.
On the call for President Goodluck Jonathan to contest the 2015 presidential polls, she says: “The decision to contest or not to contest is Jonathan’s. If for instance, the Niger Delta people agree that Jonathan should contest and he says he is not going to contest, that is his choice. It is his choice and that is the point I am making which is that it is not the choice of Kaita or Buhari or anybody to tell Nigerians who to vote for.”
She, however, declined to comment on Jonathan’s performance in office saying she is “on record of complaining about so many things about Jonathan’s presidency so far” and said her previous statements will speak for her.
Retraction of statement
On her comments that oil pipelines will be blown up and the economy brought to a standstill if Jonathan fails to win in 2015, Ms Briggs said she stands by her earlier assertion stating that, “The only time I will retract anything is if the condition that led to that statement changes, then I will change my position. Nobody is saying that Jonathan’s government is perfect. Nobody has said that. I have criticised it and I have used the Niger Delta as a yardstick to measure his performance and I have said it very clearly.
“Now, having said that, we are two years into a four year term and I am not oblivious to the fact that from the day it became clear that he was going to be the president of this country that some people constituted themselves into a sort of opposition that would make him to seem ineffective. People have now forgotten about Boko Haram, Boko Haram has now been relegated to the background and you now have bandits that are roaming around in some states in the north!”
She claimed that certain forces are working hard to derail the present administration and portray it as not to be performing saying “until these obstacles are not there will I be able to say categorically that Jonathan has not performed.”
But she was quick to add that the decision to contest the 2015 presidential elections remained the perogative of Mr. Jonathan.
Ms Briggs kicked against the offer of amnesty to Boko Haram citing the N/Delta where it was first introduced. She asked “what has it been able to achieve in terms of time line and what it was expected to achieve? We expected it to create the avenue where development will come to the Niger Delta, but that has not happened”.
When reminded that the amnesty programme had stopped violence in the region, she retorted:
“Let me tell you why Niger Delta is no longer violent is because Jonathan is the president. Let me tell you the truth and anybody that does not know that is fooling himself. The reason why the oil production has gone up is because Jonathan is the president. That is just the truth and that is the point that must be made and must be understood and if anybody else thinks that why the oil production is gone up and the Niger Delta is calm, then that person should reassess the whole scenario.”
On statements credited to some northern leaders vowing to recapture power in 2015 as President Jonathan had not lived up to the region’s expectations, she said, “If Ciroma, Kaita and all these elderly people can come out and say these things about Nigeria and about Jonathan, then they should expect that we also must be allowed to express how we feel and the reality is, whether it is agreed or not agreed, the resources are in the Niger Delta, therefore it belongs to us.
“We are the ones drinking polluted water. Is Kaita drinking polluted water? Is he breathing gas flared oil? These are the things that must be said. Is Kaita drinking polluted water? When he talks like that it is very offensive, therefore somebody like me I will talk the way he has spoken so that we will see if it is good or bad. If he thinks that he can make Nigeria ungovernable, we too can make Nigeria ungovernable and that is what we are saying.
“Is the presidency of Nigeria his birthright to be handed over to him and his family? Which president has performed better than Jonathan? Answer me and who is he worse than? What nonsense!”