Why I Move Around With My Coffin – Chris Ekiyor

In this exclusive chat with journalists, President Emeritus of the Ijaw Youths Council(IYC), Dr. Chris Ekiyor, who just lost the Presidential race of the Ijaw National Congress(INC), talked on a whole lot of issues bordering mostly on insecurity in Nigeria.


The President of the Ijaw National Congress (INC) should be a person produced by all Ijaw people. This year it was done through a delegates conference where we had 420 supposed delegates. No election process is perfect. But this is clear departure from the past and the outcome is accepted by me in the interest of the Ijaw nation.

I have my own misgivings about a lot of issues. But like I said I have congratulated the winner who himself is an Ijaw man and he has won an Ijaw election. We have to accept it the way it is. I contested the Ijaw National Congress Presidential election to provide the kind of leadership that would have been required at that moment.

Only a few days ago you would have heard of an attempted coup issue in the country which is a sign of a failed state. Nigeria is certainly a failed state. We are only pretending and it is just a matter time. We are not different from Rwanda now. We are a  country of patient people. People who are tolerant. So, we are tolerating all these garbage we call governance. Government today is at the highest level of indiscipline, corruption, deceit etc. When a government deceives its citizen then there is no government in place. We should not waste our time to tell the world the kind of President that we have. The people living in Abuja are confused about the presence or not of the Presidency.

The country has been partitioned to cabals and cartels who manage their small space in what you call the comity of agencies. A group of powerful people would gang up and run a certain section of the economy on behalf of all of us. What they decide becomes what the President accepts. The President is hidden from people. Everybody is complaining that the villa is shut against people. How do you have a President whose door is shut against people and nobody knows what is happening.

Droves of people die everyday in the army, in communities, everywhere including my backyard in Patani. Armed gunmen will go to the East – West Road and open fire on moving vehicles and kill people. These things are not reported. Hausa/Fulani men are everywhere. We don’t know if they are Nigerians or not. Nobody cares. The borders in the north have been opened for everybody from the Sahel to come in. We have a country that has been invaded slowly by people that we cannot describe if they are Nigerians. Sometimes, I listen to national discuss where some people are trying to find a way to justify these people are Nigerians. It doesn’t make sense. I have been here all my life. All my 49 years I have lived in Nigeria. Luckily, I have lived in different parts of the country. So, I know what I am talking about.

The things that brought about the civil war(1967 – 1970) were not as bad as it is now. The civil war was just about some military men killing some other military men which got people angry. This time we are talking about armed bandits stronger than the country’s army, destroying the country, taking hostages of local government and spreading slowly into communities.

The worst part of it is that the government is not supporting communities to defend themselves. What you see is that the government come and bomb the whole place like what you are seeing in the South East. People are being invaded in their homes and they decide to do what is called vigilante to defend themselves. Rather than government taking over the process and helping to support community policing, government is waging a war against those people therefore making them feel that the government is the enemy.

It is a mismanaged process. If I was the President of Nigeria, National Security Adviser, Chief of Army Staff or Inspector General of Police I would have sat down with these people and look at what positive gains we can get in their trying to secure themselves because the army doesn’t have the manpower neither does the police have the manpower to do national security any more. They’re over stretched, not employing the right kind of people and they’re not willing to look for international partnership out of stupid pride.

We are talking about 1million dollars taken away since two years. Nothing is talked about it. We are talking about people over staying their welcome in the military and dampening the morale of people in the service. It’s not acceptable.

I opted to contest the Presidency of the Ijaw National Congress because I know that it is only the Niger Delta people that can stop what is coming. We have courage. What’s lacking in the leadership space of the Ijaw people is the inability of the Ijaw National Congress to find its feet. I thought that if I am there as President I would be able to galvanise the Niger Delta together and ensure that we stop this madness that is coming. After all, everything that runs Nigeria comes from the Niger Delta. There’s no section that’s producing anything today that can run this country. All the oil, all the gas come from here(Niger Delta). Whether you are building industry in any part of the country the oil and gas comes from here. We are the people heavily marginalised and denied the opportunity.

Some few years ago, we were able to have access when Goodluck Jonathan was President of Nigeria and the whole world got interested. Today, it is like we never started anything. Even the amnesty office, NDDC etc all have been hijacked through the backdoor by the same people who have subjected us to poverty unfortunately.

It is God that gives power. I didn’t make it(become INC President). Maybe, God did not want me to sit there today and provide the radical change that we need. I hope that those that emerged (as INC executives) will do justice to the region and Nigeria. Until we negotiate with Nigeria as equal partners nothing is going to happen.

There is a despoliation of the Niger Delta region and that’s exactly why I contested for the INC President. Ijaw people cannot now go and sleep when the drumbeat of war is everywhere. So, I encourage the new executives of the INC to know that’s a challenge. It’s not about APC or PDP. They’re a coin with the same face. The same people move from one political party to the other. The truth is that the political class leading this country are not doing well. The national assembly is lazy – they cannot challenge the President. The media has been silenced because if they publish a story they are threatened and arrested. If you criticise Mr. President you’re threatened and arrested.

You will recall that several years ago I told you that I move with my coffin. I am not afraid to die speaking the truth. They have attempted to kill me, shot at my vehicle several times. God has been keeping me going. As far as I know I will respect the constitution of the country. But in respecting the constitution it should be guaranteed that my fundamental human rights must be protected. It also guarantees me the right to ask questions about my existence as a Nigerian. If I cannot ask those questions why am I living?

This country should go back to the first constitution that Aguiyi Ironsi tried to destroy. They should pick it up and dust it . Let regions have their power, let people run a federated system where we have mutual respect for each other. That’s the only way that this country can move forward. This unitary system that someone sits in Abuja and seize everybody’s patrimony and gives to you whatever they want cannot move the nation forward. It is a backward system. It is not for this kind of country with a multi-ethnic and multi-religious setting. Let’s make it clear that the beauty of it is that nobody can subject the rest of us to slavery or servitude.


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