Published On: Mon, May 30th, 2016

Sheath your sword – Marafa tells N/Delta Avengers

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Kabiru Marafa represents Zamfara Central in the Senate, in this interview with Peoples Daily, he urges Niger Delta Avengers to sheath their sword. Excerpts:

On the crisis in Niger Delta area, where militants are blowing oil facilities ?

I think there is one common denominator in almost all the problems of this country. There own is not an exception, in fact, there own is even one of the worst. What is affecting the Niger Delta region is gross injustice by their leaders, massive corruption. There are some people that live so flamboyantly, they make so much money out of this Niger Delta issues and so on, and the present regime does not support corruption, so day in day out, holes are being plugged, leakages are being blocked, so that is why you see pockets of what you are seeing there. My advice is that I hope the masses of the region, will imitate what the masses of Nigeria has done to the elites of Nigeria and say, this thing you are going on strike, or you are going to protest on our behalf, we have accepted what government did, because we believe it is in our common good. Now, this Niger Delta Avengers, they are doing more harm to the Niger Deltans by all these their agitation, because they are driving away the much needed foreign direct investments in the form of many things. It is flying away to other places like Lagos, Abuja. Because nobody will want to stay where there is insecurity, nobody will like to invest his money where there is insecurity, these facilities they are blowing belongs to the common pool, which is Nigeria, and it affects them more because, may be states like my Zamfara, how much does Zamfara receive, may be ten or twenty times what States like Bayelsa or Rivers receive. What of Akwa Ibom, how much does all of them receive, and the cost of repairing these things will be on government and when the contract is awarded, it will go back to these same people, and when they are repairing these things, they will only repair only those things that are necessary for them to take the crude oil, which is what they need. So, in the long run, it will affect the economy of the people in the region. So, the Niger Delta people should disown these people doing these things because they are their enemies and are driving away investors. They should know that no nation will develop without foreigners.

On the partial deregulation of the downstream sector by the federal government?

It is not even only advisable, but is necessary, if not compulsory to do it. Thank God we now have a government that is realistic and practical. We are now deviating from the hypocrisy that the Nigerian nation was use to. This subsidy is just a scam that is created by very few people against the Nigerians masses. You can’t just be spending huge sums of money on something that is not existent anywhere. Any time this issue comes to senate or anywhere, and it came up severally, and we have heard from our colleagues in the Niger Delta, they told us that they have never ever bought fuel at the official price in their area. We have heard from our colleagues in the South East, the same story. You have only very few towns in the South West where you can say yes you can see fuel in the fuel stations, may be Ibadan, and Lagos. We have also heard from our colleagues in the North Central, North East, North West. Where I come from, we are used to seeing surface tanks all the places. How many fuel stations do they have, even where they are, they are only alive during fuel scarcity. So it is very heart warming to see Nigerian masses protested, it goes to tell you that our democracy is becoming more rooted and people are becoming more politically aware. In the last three or four months when this fuel scarcity hit this country, fuel never sold below N200 anywhere across the country, and we never hear anybody coming out to protest and we did not hear any threat from anybody. Now they said that fuel is selling for N145, and suddenly, this fuel surfaces from nowhere at all the fuel stations, is it not a common sense. So let me say a big well done to the Nigerians masses, the Nigerian students, our market women and everybody, who rose up and said yes, this removal of fuel subsidy is for us and we have accepted. Because all along, it has been the hypocrisy of the elites, who corner this thing with very few people, shearing the resources, and using the common man as the medium to reach to our treasury. It does not make sense to continue to pay subsidy. Nigerian people are saying enough of this hypocrisy. I want to use this medium to appeal to the government at all levels, to totally deregulate the downstream sector, so that the forces of demand and supply can take effect and dictate the prices. I can assure you, it might be a little high, but with little time, it will come down in short time. This will free the resources for the government to develop the country and build infrastructure for the massed. Thank God we have now a transparent government, that even the critics trusts that whatever that is realised from this policy, is not going to be stolen.

On the crisis of confidence between Nigerians and their leaders regarding such policies?

I have absolute confidence, not only me, all Nigerians, even the international communities. You remember what happened in London, when the Prime Minister of that country made sarcastic remarks about Nigeria, and the person seated next to the Queen spoke immediately, and when he spoke, who did he speak in favour? Our President, he spoke about his personality, I think that is more than a stamp of an approval, coming from far away London, coming from a country where you can say they are political mature, you know you cannot say there was bribery and for that man to say what he said in the presence of the Queen, and the Prime Minister, it speaks volume about the character or person of our President. If our President can be so celebrated abroad, Nigerians have to thank God and celebrate him much more. Also, he has a lot of people working with him, and he listens to advice, he reads. Even without deregulation or removing of the subsidy, we have seen in this year budget how the capital expenditure was increased and enhanced, let us do this deregulation properly, and you will see what the 2017 budget will look like.

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