Posted by News Express | 28 February 2015 | 4,051 times
For Hajiya Mujahidat Dokubo-Asari, the Niger-Delta people come first for her family and protecting their rights even when it entails operating from the creeks or prison is the best decision her husband made. Recently, her Facebook post alleging that Yoruba people are backing All Progressive Congress (APC) presidential candidate, Gen. Muhammadu Buhari in the forthcoming presidential election for selfish reasons created waves. In this interview with KEMI YESUFU, she spoke on why she joined her husband in attacking the South-West, why he was right to threaten that President Jonathan must win the presidential election. She also talked about her family and life as an ex-militant’s wife. Excerpts:
You and your husband have expressed anger over what you described as the alleged connivance of Yoruba people with the North to wrest power from President Goodluck Jonathan. Now that Afenifere has endorsed Jonathan, do you still think the Yoruba are against the president?
You said that you saw my Facebook post. If you did, then you should remember that I said it was the selfish, wicked and evil ones among the Yoruba people that are working with the North to wrest power from President Goodluck Jonathan. These people aren’t really interested in fighting for votes, if they had their way, there won’t even be elections. They will simply take power off the hands of Jonathan. Having said this, I must commend Afenifere for openly backing Jonathan. In fact, for me, the endorsement from Afenifere is a welcome development. And I never gave the impression that there were no Yoruba people who support Jonathan. Femi Fani-Kayode, the Director Media and Publicity for the Goodluck/Sambo presidential campaign team is a Yoruba man. Governor Ayo Fayose is Yoruba and he is in total support of GEJ. Even Chief Gani Adams has spoken of his preference for Jonathan. It is the same thing for Dr. Fredrick Fasehun whose SDP (Social Democratic Party) party adopted Jonathan as its presidential candidate. And there are many people in the South-West who support Jonathan and the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) wholeheartedly.
Also recently, your husband, along with some other former Niger-Delta militants, threatened that Nigeria will not find it easy if Jonathan isn’t re-elected into office at a meeting hosted by Governor Seriake Dickson. This has been heavily criticized. Some have even called for your husband and other ex-militants’ arrest, just as they have expressed disappointment that Governor Dickson hosted the meeting. As a wife, do you get worried about your husband, and do you sometimes wish he doesn’t make such statements?
Not at all. I am in full support of what my husband said at the Bayelsa meeting. I wouldn’t have even minded if he said more than that. Let’s be sincere to ourselves. Remember that northern elders have been saying they must return power to their territory. Also, remember the declaration by (General Muhammadu) Buhari that monkey and baboon will be soaked in blood and what followed after he lost the 2011 election. Since that 2011 proclamation, Nigeria has not known peace. Should we so easily forget that lives were lost and property destroyed just because of elections? If you ask me, Boko Haram has become even bolder since the 2011 post-election violence. If not that Nigeria is an unserious country and if not that Jonathan is gentle, Buhari should have been dragged to the International Court of Justice (ICC). In some countries, Buhari will not be allowed to contest elections again after what happened in 2011. Talking about (Lt. General) T.Y. Danjuma, where was he when the North was making statements threatening GEJ? Now because my husband and others like Tompolo have warned that Jonathan isn’t a man without people, Danjuma is talking. Did he make a single statement when the North was threatening GEJ? Why should the pronouncements from my husband and Tompolo be made an issue? How many northerners have come out to condemn how GEJ was attacked during campaigns in their region? Can you imagine that a bomb exploded just after Jonathan campaigned in Gombe?
But some have argued that it would have been better if your husband and other ex-militants campaigned for Jonathan rather than threatening that he must win the election. This is especially as it has been said that Governor Dickson called for the meeting to forge a common front for ex-militants to campaign for Jonathan, especially in the South-South?
Yes, Governor Dickson called for the meeting to chart the way forward. He wanted ex-freedom fighters to cooperate towards GEJ’s success at the polls. He also was taking a proactive measure to ensure peace in our region. But I just reminded you of the things that happened to the president during his campaigns in the North and how before the campaigns, the North has been insisting on taking power back. Did you now expect that during such a meeting nobody will express unhappiness with how Jonathan has been treated? For me, I don’t think the ex-freedom fighters should have any regrets for stating their grievances. Is it not obvious that even those who support GEJ in the North dared not come out to the campaign ground during PDP rallies? My people in the North inbox me on Facebook, they call me to say they are afraid to campaign for Jonathan in the North. So, basically, the ex-militants were only making the point that nobody enjoys the monopoly of violence.
But since warnings don’t win elections, have you as an individual campaigned for Jonathan like some have advised that aggrieved persons like you do?
Sure, I have my people down in Rivers State who I have supported to campaign for GEJ. Don’t forget that I contested under the platform of the Action Congress of Nigeria (ACN) for the Bonny/Degema Federal Constituency in 2011. I have a political team which has been doing the job of campaigning for Jonathan effectively. Never mind anyone saying the All Progressives Congress (APC) exists in Rivers State. The Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) will win Rivers State. I don’t see Jonathan losing in the South-South. We have been marginalised for too long and now we have a chance personified in Jonathan, it would be unwise for us to vote against him. Why can’t these people allow Jonathan do two terms? (President Olusegun) Obasanjo did two terms and was even stopped by the National Assembly when he moved for a third term. Now, it is a Niger-Delta person from the region where oil is produced and they don’t want him to peacefully conclude his second term. Honestly, I don’t think any South-South person who suckled from his mother’s breasts will vote against Jonathan. We will all come out and vote for him.
It is quite obvious you are very much like your husband. Did you marry him as an activist, and were you happy when he went into the creeks?
I am a born activist. I started activism from my mother’s womb. I hate injustice. I love equity, fair play and justice. I have been a lover of justice since I was a little girl. I am not tribalistic. But the attitude of the Gambaris and their allies in the South-West has made some of us stand up to protect our own.
As a child, was there a happening that made you hate injustice?
I am naturally a hater of injustice and inequity. Look, if my mother does something unjust, I will not support her. What is happening in our country today doesn’t happen anywhere else in the world. The Niger-Delta is the goose that lays the golden egg. Yet, the only time a Niger-Delta man, a complete civilian is leading the country, some people have refused to allow him do a second term. By the actions of the Gambaris, I can say we don’t mean it when we talk about a one Nigeria. Why can’t these people allow Jonathan do a second term and the power will rotate back to the north? Even the northern minorities don’t have a voice. The plan of the Gambaris and their South -West cohorts is that power rotates between the Hausa Fulani and Yoruba. Can you imagine that Obasanjo left office in 2007, yet APC picked (Professor Yemi) Osinbajo as running mate for Buhari? Worst still, we all know that all this fight for power is how the Niger- Delta oil money will be used to develop places outside the South-South.
Many would like to know how the wife of a tough-talking ex-militant copes with him?
Asari is not a wicked man. He is not a demon. He is not a killer. Rather, Asari hates injustice. He will fight for justice, come rain or sunshine. Let me take you back to history. Asari was a member of ACN. He worked closely with ( Bola Ahmed )Tinubu. But when Jonathan was to contest in 2011, Asari had to support him. Tinubu is a good man. He has been good to my family. But many would have questioned my husband’s true reason for agitating for the freedom of Niger-Delta if he didn’t stand behind Jonathan. So Asari supported Jonathan to become president, and that is what caused the rift between him and Tinubu. I am saying all of these to show that my husband is just like every other human being. There has to be reasons for him to take certain actions.
What kind of husband and father is Dokubo Asari?
Asari is a good man. He loves his family with a passion. The man just loves his children. He is a compassionate person. He loves the next man and hates to see people suffer. Eighty percent of the children in his school are sponsored by him. But I don’t want to dwell on this. I dare say that even we the wives of Asari don’t enjoy him as much as the many he helps outside. It is only those that don’t know him one-on-one, who say all sorts of things about him. But I am someone who doesn’t care about what people say about me, as far as I am speaking the truth. So, I also don’t bother about what people, who don’t know my husband, say about him.
If you had the benefit of foreseeing the future of the man you married, would you have chosen another path?
Well, I have no regrets being Asari’s wife. I am also an activist in my own small way.
How did you manage when he was in the creeks and the time he was imprisoned?
I love my children a lot. I looked to them for inspiration during tough times. Remember also that I didn’t just keep quiet or cry in the room. I kept talking and fighting for his freedom. And I have never had a moment of regret. I even encourage my husband always not to stop because he is on the right path, fighting for the rights of Niger-Delta people.
Will you allow your children to follow the footsteps of their dad?
Whatever road they choose to go, I will support them. If they want a quiet life, it is fine by me. If they want to fight like their father, I will back them. But it is up to them.
Do you think the sacrifices you and your husband have made are worth it?
Sure, it has been worth our while. The Jonathan presidency is a product of Niger-Delta agitation. Again, today the average Niger Deltan is no longer ignorant or docile.
You didn’t win the first election you contested. Do you regret contesting?
No. But I can tell you I was rigged out. I couldn’t come out to say it. And my husband and I didn’t bother about contesting the election outcome in court.
When your husband converted to Islam, did you immediately accept his new faith?
I met my husband as a Muslim and he converted me. I am a woman, I don’t want confusion, I want peace in my home. So, my children and I are Muslims. I was a Christian when I met my husband. But it won’t make sense for my children to be of another religion while my husband is a Muslim.
You and your husband have the same fiery temperament? Who is the first to apologize when you argue?
I am the one who does the apologizing. God says the woman should be submissive to the man. So, I don’t hesitate to apologize to my husband if there is a problem.
How did your husband woo you? Is he romantic at all?
Yes, Asari is a loving man. He is very kind. I knew my husband growing up. We are from the same village. But we are not blood relatives. So, he was like the neighborhood big brother to me. This is why even if I stop marrying Asari today, I can never be against him. I cannot see where evil is being planned against him and not stop it.
What do you do when not talking politics or Niger-Delta rights?
I read a lot. I love biographies. I spend time with my children. I am so close to my kids. I take them out for swimming and shopping. We sleep in the same room. I just love showering my children with love.
•Culled from Saturday Sun. Photo shows Mujahidat Dokubo-Asari.
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