The race to 2019 elections is gradually picking up in all parts of the country. In Delta state, former Governor James Ibori, who recently returned from London prison has endorsed incumbent Governor Ifeanyi Okowa for the 2019 elections. In this interview with Austin Oyibode of NAIJ.com, Prince Kehinde Taiga, Chairman of Committee for the Defense of Human Rights in Delta, said endorsement will not determine the outcome of the 2019 elections but the people of the state will vote for the right people to represent them. Excerpt:
In the coming 2019 elections, former governor James Ibori has endorsed Governor Ifeanyi Okowa of Delta state and because of the endorsement, many politicians from other parties are defecting to the PDP. How do you think non-performing politicians can be voted out of power, though endorsed by power brokers?
I must tell you that nobody will remain in power forever. This man stole our money, he served prison term for it and now he is back to the state. People are saying yes, our son has come back, let us embrace him, but he is becoming something else.
But I want to say that all these endorsements will not help because I believe that in the 2019 elections, the snatching of ballot papers will no longer work with the way the national assembly has legalised the use of the card readers, making it the only means of voting.
Endorsement does not give one a guarantee that he will win election. People may be feeling that because Ibori has the population, I can still tell you that a son can vote against his father. We believe that everybody has come to their senses. It is the right time we elected our right leaders, it is the right time we put impunity out of Delta state.
Race to 2019 elections: James Ibori’s endorsement of candidates will not work in Delta – group
Prince Kehinde Taiga, Chairman of Committee for the Defense of Human Rights in Delta. He said endorsement of candidates has no place in the 2019 elections
Now, look at the state house of assembly, we know there is what is called constituency project but the assembly members are not using the money to affect the people’s lives. How do you react to this?
These are the things we are saying. That is why there is local representation from the grassroots. But we are finding out that it is becoming a nightmare for the people. House of assembly members are no longer representing their people according to the law.
There was a house of assembly member in Kogi state, who went for a meeting with his constituency members. The people said since he was elected, he had not come back home to brief them how far he has gone, what success he has made in the house of assembly. Out of anger, they beat him to coma.
I want to say that if they want us to use all means against them, we are ready for them. We will write petitions against every government agency and personality for investigation. During campaigns, politicians tell us a lot of things, we will do this, we will do that but when they come to power, they don’t do anything.
In 2019, our youths need to be cautious. They should not allow themselves to be used by politicians. The last time we visited the prison, a lot of youths we saw were deceived by politicians and at the end, they were apprehended and remanded in prison. Nobody is trying their case and they are languishing in prison.
We are telling our youths not to allow themselves to be used by politicians because 2019 campaign is already on ground. They should be wise. In 2019, we are not going to vote for somebody that will not bring home the constituency projects to the people.
There are some communities now as I’m talking with you that do not have roads, they have no water. And they have somebody representing them in the government, we say no to that.
You said you are in support of President Muhammadu Buhari’s campaign against corruption, but some people are saying the campaign is one sided, it is against a few people. How do you look at that?
Probably, people saying that have skeleton in their cupboard. I want to say this that anybody elected to represent people is not elected to serve his party but the people.
That is the reason we are saying that as far as you have been elected to represent the people, the government should represent the people well. The money in their hands should be judiciously used for the development of the people.
We are not against anybody, anybody that is elected becomes the government of the people. We are not against PDP nor are we against APC but we are here to checkmate their activities and we will make sure the rights of citizens are not violated.
You recently carried out a sensitization campaign against cultism, kidnapping and armed robbery across the state, what was your observation in the places you visited?
All the places we visited, we observed that some people will be arrested and taken to the police station, rather than prosecuting them according to the law, the police will release them back to the communities.
When we got to Ughelli and Abraka, the complaint was there. But the commissioner of police has assured that we should come and tell him what we experienced during the campaigns. We also observed that everywhere in Warri has become a road block by the Nigeria police.
The police are not there to check crime but to extort money from motorists. As soon as they see you coming they will stretch their hand and ask for money, after collecting money, they give the drivers numbers.
From DSC Road to Warri, you’ll see about five check points collecting N50 and N100. We have reported severally to the commissioner of police but the act is still on. So, we don’t want to sit down and fold our hands, it is an offense to extort money from people. The law states it is punishable with five years’ imprisonment. It is in the police act.
But what made your group to organize the rally?
We found out that the society is full of different atrocities, cultism, kidnapping, armed robbery and others. We now came together and said we should collaborate with the police who are the law enforcement agents so that we go on awareness campaign to educate the people that kidnapping and all these vices are evil and criminal offences.
We also campaigned against corruption especially contractors of the state government who have been given contracts but have refused to complete them. We urge them to go and complete the projects or else we have no option but to petition them to the rightful agency that will drag them to finish their projects.
We are also supporting President Muhammadu Buhari’s campaign against corruption and we have incorporated it into our campaign. All House of Assembly members should take their constituency projects to develop their constituencies, the money is not meant for their personal use but for the communities. We are against them because majority of them do not take the constituency projects to the people in their areas.
If they fail to do that we will write to the appropriate agencies to investigate them. Every money meant for the development of the constituencies must be used judiciously. We are also calling on the executives that every fund generated from the ministries should be channeled to the state coffers.
On the other way round, if the money is deposited in the state coffers but the government is not using it properly, we have no option than to come out hard against the governor, telling the public the evil of the governor.