Sir Lucky Ugochuchwu Worluh is the Chairman of Ikwerre Youth Movement (IYM) an umbrella youth body of Ikwerre Ethnic Nationality of Rivers State. In this interview with Paul Obiajunwo he appraises the security situation in Rivers State and Niger Delta as a whole.
As youth leader, what do you think is the possible way out to end kidnapping in Niger Delta especially in Rivers State.
It is to invest in human capital development, over the years’ government both at the national and state level have failed to invest in the development of their youths. There should be a special attention to the youths of this country. Youths should not be remembered when we want to contest election or when we want to assonate those we described as our political enemies. For example in Rivers State, why is the Trans Amadi industrial layout that hosts many companies in Rivers State turned to a ghost town. It is because the government in the state are not thinking of how to attract investment and create enabling environment for those companies who have folded to go back to work. Those who left Trans Amadi because of insecurity were contributing for Rivers State economy. They were paying taxes, employing our youths, renting our houses, sleeping in our hotels, marring our women etc today they left town due to insecurity. Each time I see people talking about Nigeria recession I get angry because the possible way out of recession is to declare state of emergency on Security in Rivers, Niger Delta states and other part of Nigeria where insecurity has destroyed economic progress. In Niger Delta, insecurity in the region has deprived government from making profit.
Here in Rivers and other Niger Delta states Kidnapping has become a lucrative venture, do think any government can ever stop them?
We live in a society that encourages criminality; let’s go back to memory lane and think of when this kidnapping started. It started with idle youths turning into agitators under the instruction of their masters who claimed to be fighting marginalization of the region. They were abducting white men; they thought it will end there. Later they started kidnapping our prominent people, today they are abducting everybody. And you cannot force people to bring their investment to any place were security is not guaranteed. So, I “m of the opinion that the President should assist the region and Rivers State to declare an emergency on security that is the only way to minimize crime in Rivers State. Don’t forget that no administration has addressed this Niger Delta issue, Obasanjo wanted to address it by making the Niger Delta man the vice President, by the Grace of God that Niger Delta man became the President. He would have used that platform to address this issue the way President Muhammadu Buhari is addressing the Boko Haram issue in the North. But he did nothing to our plight instead he created more trouble to our people. The only way kidnapping can minimize in Rivers State is for the government to act as role model, how can a political party gives ticket to militants to run as members of state house of assembly, appoint cult leaders as caretaker chairman that government lack the moral Fabre to fight kidnapping and other criminality.
We have youths in the region who challenge military, some are now expert in handling all kind of ammunition
They should be engaged into the military, there is an important department in the military, we have what we call marine Army. The United State marine is one of the strongest US military that the American has. If we create Nigerian marine it would engage thousands of youths. We need to employ thirty to forty thousand personnel, because it’s not only in the Niger Delta area we have criminals, we have criminal in the Lagos and they are defeating them. We have to come out to build a strong force. And when you create this employment, all these youths carrying guns in the name of Avengers can be recruited. This would happen if these youths were confronted, rebrand for a better Nigeria to defend the integrity of Nigeria as a nation. I’ m not in support of negotiating with the Niger Delta youths in Abuja if they want to negotiate with them, then they should come to the region where the pressing issues are. This would also help other expert at the negotiation table who are not of the region to see things for themselves. And why we are talking of dialogue we must reposition NDDC and other establishment created for the development of the region.
Many analysts several times have alleged that some persons are benefiting from the Niger Delta Crisis?
Of course, there are invisible hands on the crisis rocking the Niger Delta region but those invisible hands have started to be visible. For example, when we had election last year in Rivers State, some prominent personality imported arms into the state and young men were hired to make use of those arms to subvert the will of the people at the Election Day. Today, they have used these boys to win election and some of them were not settled. These youths who are now angry, with the ammunition in their hands have become terrorists, avengers, kidnappers, arms robbers etc. So why the crisis in the region linger some people are benefiting. In fact, these beneficiaries of Niger Delta crisis are praying harder and making everything possible to frustrate President Muhammadu Buhari’s dialogue offer to militant groups in the region. In our region today, these youths have destroyed their communities and the governors of Niger Delta states are suffering more than any state governor. The 13 percent derivation they are suppose to be getting from Federal government, they no longer get it, so who is losing.
The governor has offered amnesty to cultists and militants groups in the state can this offer minimize the insecurity in the state
For me as a Christian, if man gives Amnesty that is not divine until that person gets amnesty from God. Almost all the people being offered amnesty in Rivers State are still criminals who have not repented. They need to have a change of mind, repent within them before you offer them amnesty. You don’t offer criminal who have not repented amnesty it’s a waste of time and resources. I am not against the amnesty being offered to cultists and militants group in the state but we must get it right if such suffer was targeted in reducing or minimizing crime in the state. If you go to Omoku and other part of the state the same boys they are offering amnesty are still there terrorizing the people. The person accepting the amnesty must be willing to change just like Ateke Tom and Asari who were granted amnesty and sincerely changed and are now doing exploits and contributing for the peace of the region. I heard that the Present administration in the state said they are not offering money to militants in the name of amnesty but planning to empower them for life. If that will be possible I support the idea, I will like to suggest that the government should involve some professionals and the private sectors for a rehabilitation programme. You cannot give someone amnesty, and what you do is to give him money every month and is still in the creek smoking and involving in criminality. You have to give amnesty and send them for training to acquire skills that would change their mentality of things in life.