Station Of The Nation: Exclusive Interview With Comrade Legborsi Saro Pyagbara
Atlantic Television Network ‘Blow Out’ State of The Nation Exclusive Interview with Former President of Movement For The Survival Of Ogoni People (MOSOP) Mr Legborsi Saro Pyagbara. The renown environmental activist spoke on various issues. He shared his views on the legislature’s readiness to support INEC in all possible ways to Ensure Credible 2023 Elections.
He spoke on Reps uncovering of a secret account owned By NNPCL that did not follow due process.
Mr Legborsi also reacted to Kaduna State government’s warning against any attempt by any group to Block Kaduna - Abuja route in the state.
He also gave his take on the Speaker of house of Reps mediation with ASUU and Federal Government to shift grounds in order to end the lingering strike.
Finally he opined on Muslim -Muslim Ticket and the position of the former speaker, Rt. Honorable Yakubu Dogara that Christians must see their vote as talents from God to trade as seeds that must not be wasted.
Excerpt from the Interview
ATN: Is the electoral amendment act enough to ensure that we have an excellent election 2023
Well I think that the newly amended electoral act for me is a step forward but I think even if you have the best of legislation and the people are not owning it, it still becomes a challenge, for me it was a good development but I think it is time for Nigerians to rise up to own their own election, it's only when they own the electoral process that of course they can stand to defend their vote even up to the point when it is announced. For me the greatest challenge is knowing the importance of the 2023 to all of us ,I mean we know where we are,we know where we are in economy,we know where we are in terms of politics ,we know where we are In terms of insecurity, we know where we are in terms of hopelessness as long as this country is concerned. ,Nigeria has not been this bad for the past 60 years, so 2023 election is critical and of course strategic for Nigeria , that is why my own thoughts is that the ball is now with Nigeria to rise up use the opportunity of 2023 elections to right the wrong of the past 60 years to tell the world and to tell our leaders that enough is enough. I mean that for me is where this struggle lies now .
ATN: What is your take on the NNPC probe?
The whole issue in the oil industry is actually a disgrace and of course is a terrible effect because sometimes you can not even understand. the entity of the oil industry in Nigeria is actually something we need to look at quite critically because everything about it is shrouded in so much of just as the honourable Said for those of us In the Niger Delta. Of course I have not believed in anything going on in the oil industry in Nigeria because everything _about it is false ,today nobody can tell you the true position of how much oil is pumped from Nigeria, nobody can tell you nobody can tell you how much oil is pumped from the ground of Nigeria, whatever they give to you is fake,and when you pump from there we also have money to pay,so we don't even know how much anybody is paying to Nigerian government,all you see is fake figures everyday,so that entire industry is run on fraud and we know, and that's part of the reason why Ogoni have said so long as there's no transparency in this industry ,we are only ending up creating billionaires that never worked for anything and leaving the communities where this things is being drilled from in poverty in pollution and in shambles then there's no reason why we should continue oil production , and that's among the reason why we decided in Ogoni that we can not allow this people to continue oil production in Ogoni when you can not give us even a of what you're drilling out of the land so for us that whole thing about the oil industry and of course the recently passed industry act has not helped any matter either to the community, either to ensure transparency,if you see what has happened in NNPC limited today is just a transfer of the old NNPC into NNPC limited so for us theres no fundamental thing has taken place it's still business as usual,and that is why we don't believe anything going on in our oil industry we have only succeeded in creating a company to produce billionaires and millionaires over night in Nigeria that have nothing to show for all the engagement it is built on a castle of corruption and a tower of stealing and killing,so I think it is time we all see what we can do to destroy this castle and this tower of killing .
ATN: Let’s look at the Pipeline contract, do you think pipeline surveillance contract will curtail oil theft?
As I've said earlier the oil theft as long as I'm concerned is promoted and sustained by the government,the biggest beneficiary of the oil theft in the Niger Delta today is the security agencies, which remains an arm of government,the oil theft will not succeed without the connivance, collaboration and of course support of those in government so everything about oil theft in the Niger Delta today is coordinated, as I said, sustained ,promoted, and protected by those in government and its agencies,so that is where the real issue is,so if you like get 1million surveillance contracts ,so long as security agencies, those in government are protecting, sustaining, organising and benefiting from it , we can't win the war.
When this whole thing started about 10 years ago, some of us in the community, I mean I've had privilege of getting information about this thing reported security agencies and I saw the whole connivance was organised,I was told to lift up my hands because those who are doing it are from above,so as far as I'm concerned the whole surveillance contract shows a country that have lost control a country that can no longer provide security,if not,if we have a country that can provide security for its citizen,that can protect its facilities,why would we need to give protection of pipelines to talkertives, and the rest who are not even in government,so how suddenly we realise that we've lost control, our security agents have lost control,every security agencies have lost control and we are now giving Surveillance contract to third parties,non stakeholders,non state actors,we are now surrendering our security to non state actors ,so if we can not protect our pipelines as a nation and we are surrendering to non state actors,it means that totally out security system has failed. For me it's a complete slap on our security system that today we are surrendering a responsibility that brings government in ,because government exists for two reasons, provision of security and provision of welfare,so where the state can no longer provide that security where the state can no longer provide security for its own pipeline,and you're surrendering to non state actors it means that even our lives are no longer safe,it means that the security system has collapsed. So that is the view I have about it, because who are the people you're even giving the contracts to? these are the same people you declared as militants some years back,you said they are criminals,so how come now you are now telling us they are the only people,they are the people you surrender security of pipelines , infrastructure important as pipelines . You are now surrendering the protection of those things to non state actors,so why are we talking about security infact the way it is now we should just disbound security agencies in Nigeria ,we just disbound all of them, because why are we paying them with tax payers money and they can not provide security for Common infrastructure as pipeline,so if we can not do so any more we can no longer provide security for lives and properties
ATN: What's your take on the Kaduna State government position on any protest within the state?
It is quite unfortunate,under a suppose democracy you are depriving people a right to protest, right to protest is a non alienable right on anybody,who feels dis enchanted to the system they find themselves so on the basis of of human rights you're depriving people that they don't have a right to protest so how will they express,for me it has always been the tradition dictators to hide under the banner of security to stiffle public expression of displeasure,so I mean the happening in Kaduna State,I mean not just this protest,governor el- Rufai has been acting as if he's above the law,I mean we've had all manner of incidences in Kaduna State that shown that he's a petty dictator who incidentally is in democracy that doesn't even know that in democracy people have the right to protest,and of course insecurity has always been the banner upon which dictators like him are always denying people the public expression of their grievances,I think the students have a right, I've been a student leader,and I know what it means for people to be out of school for 7 months while the bourgeois class are busy graduating their children in schools abroad they're destroying the ones at home, what else does he want them to do? Just Keep quiet and Sit down and destroy their future? if we say the youths are the future, where will that future be,when you're destroying their education,and you expect them to continue to keep quiet? have they not shouted enough? They have done so have they not cried enough? They've cried, have they not petitioned enough ? They have petitioned
Now they want to use their body to tell the world, that enough is enough,you want to deny them of that ? I don't agree with that.
Question 2- With what is going on ,do you think that the leaders really understand what this whole academic shut down is all about?
“What is happening with the ASUU STRIKE of course is a complete disgrace,not just to those involved but to the entire nation. when people watch us they see a country that is not planning for the future ,they see a country that is only planning for its failure because any country that doesn't value education can not be taken seriously,any country that can allow education to fall the way it has fallen in Nigeria means their not planning for the future
Any country that can allow it's youths to be out of school for 7 months today and does not feel anything about it is a country that is already planning for its complete arbitration they talk about bandits,they talk about insecurity ,they talk about all manner of things,go and check those who are involved, they are mostly young people most of them are out of school,so any country that can deliberately because this one is no longer speculation it is intentional and deliberate on the part of those in government to allow this strike to continue, particularly if you look at what happen in previous elections maybe they are doing this to get young men,who will be used for all manner of rigging during the next election,who knows? Because we are always seeing the tendency when ever it's around election period because when these guys are jobless at home,of course you don't have anything doing,you don't have money,you look for a way to get money and election always provide an opportunity to get money,so sometimes this thing can be deliberate and intentional on the part of those in government”
“Secondly, check all the private school around today apart from those who are owned by churches and the rest , check the private school they are all traced to one person or thing in government or the other of those things who are in government,so the more they can destroy the public institution the better for them to run their private schools,I kept saying nothing like this, insecurity, failure of education, nothing like this thrives without the connivance of those in government. As far as I'm concerned this whole entity relating to asuu strike and the rest of them are actually manipulated by those who are in government just to continue to keep perpetual ignorance, poverty and of course the way they can manipulate,the easiest way to make people manipulative is to keep them in poverty,this things are purely things that are manipulated, emotional some one that has been out of class and you expect him not to be emotional, if it is some one that has a passion teaching if it is somebody that values teaching you think he'll just be talking without being emotional, for being out of class for 7 months today?
Is it today that the speaker is aware that people have been out of school? In a serious country will the speaker wait for this to go on for 7 months? so, it shows from every corner that those in government don't care about us at all, you are waiting after 7 months,we all say 7 is the symbol of perfection so you are waiting for everything to be perfected before you call them to order? this is a clear sign of unseriousness it shows that our people in leadership they don't value education and they don't see anything they need to commit them selves to, that is the summary of it all.
ATN: Do you think that their intervention when the president returns will make any difference , considering all other meetings?
“Well it's just a proverb says "it's better late than never"this is an issue of life, people say water is life,land is life but I think education is life, without education I don't think anybody can go to any where,the fact that this whole thing as lasted for 7 months doesn't give me any inspiration that president coming back and doing another round of meeting will make a move forward I think it is time for parents and every other stakeholders to do what they need to do to force this government into discussion To look at the party primaries if you look at how much was spent on the party primaries alone with the money both from private individuals and the and the rest of them, will it not be enough for ASUU? if you look at the money that was shared and distributed at the primaries will that money not be enough?,where did they get that kind of money from in the first place, will that money not be enough to sort out the issues of Asuu? It will be enough but like I said in general it's a symptom, it's symptomatic of a leadership that doesn't take education seriously and until we take education seriously,if you will listen to the asuu president, it's not the first time, we've had consistent issues with strike, because today people talk and then they talk the next thing is ,when the talk is over, people go back waiting for implementation of agreement, and it never happens How much is asuu asking for? If you look at the entire course of what ASUU is asking for,how much is it?How much are they putting down for surveillance,how much are they putting down for all manner of things they are talking about doing even the NNPC, it's not a question of lack of money,I don't agree it's a question of lack of commitment , it's a question of lack of planning for the future of Nigeria and the future of our children, I don't think this is a question of lack of money,it's just symptomatic of a leadership that doesn't value education they want us to remain in poverty, while they send their children abroad they come back and Lord over all of us again is a continuity and perpetuity Of their dominance over the larger section of Nigeria”
ATN: On Muslim- Muslim Ticket and the former speaker's position?
“There's something we call the United nations lnternational convention on the elimination of all forms of racial discrimination
Part of what that convention commend is the issue of accommodation and tolerance and also of course peace in diversity. This country has gone through different challenges over time that when you're taking critical decisions like this,you must do a balance”
“I don't think we've gotten to a point where we should throw away those of sentiment,I know that we have some of the best minds among the Christian folks,we also have some of the best minds among the Muslim folks,and we also have some of the best minds among the animist.
I think that in deciding on this whole thing there must be a balance Because we are a growing nation and because we are growing we must at every point in time adjust and build platforms that every body can see and say we all belong to this. But when you try to do certain things that appear you are being dismissive of others,then of course you're preparing the ground for conflict and intolerance.
So for me I think that there need to be a balance on that ticket or there should have been a balance, because at the point that we are today the issue of religion is still part and parcel of what defines the way we act in this country, it's not that we should continue this way but it is not at the he points of maturity that we can do away with such and that maturity can only come when we are able to build a structure where everybody cease to be their own.
Because today,of course people run into the cocoon of religion and ethnicity for their protection, because today I can tell you that nobody sees them selves,forget about the mouthing that they talk about,forget about the mountain,90% of those who mount Nigeria don't even believe in Nigeria in the first place, because we are still in the stage of state building and nation building,of course there need to be that balance in what ever thing that we do,and that is why the Muslim Muslim Ticket is still a big issue that we have to contend with.
I think it was not sensitive enough to look at the differences that we have in this country, it was not sensitive enough to look at the different meaning that people anchored to some of this things,and I think for me it was wrong looking at where we are today.
The division in This country will be far sharper that what happened 30 years ago. Oneness was stronger 30 years ago than it is today,so you can not dismiss of such tendencies not at point like this when of course conflict all over the country,some of the driven by religion, some of them driving by ethnicity and you just want to drive them away,no no no no,I don't think it was sensitive enough to have gone that way”
This interview was conducted virtually during ATN Blow Out of 22/09/2022
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