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Meet Victor James, Author of From Creek To Sahara: Voting behaviour in contemporary Nigeria politics”.

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Victor James, born 1990; formerly known by full name James Ita Victor and simply referred to as Victor, is a major political figure of the Annang ethnic group in the Niger Delta region of Nigeria where he serves as the National President of Niger Delta Youth Association (NDYA); a non-militia advocacy group he co-founded with his wife, and other comrades: Ibiso Harry, Gabriel Patterson, Ime Marshal and Chantelle Tindel.

His aim is to use the platform to advance the cause of human rights while demanding accountability and development in the Niger Delta region of Nigeria. Victor James believe that in order to achieve the purpose of this advocacy group, special attention must be paid to the following; poverty alleviation, conservation of the environment and promotion of employment opportunities for young people.

Victor has been in the forefront of peaceful campaign for youths in politics, a proactive and conscientious Niger Delta clean up, peaceful cohabitation of people of different ethnic groups regardless of religion and financial status, and poverty alleviation in the region.

Born a Christian, Victor got married to the love of his life, a Somalian Sunni Muslim by the name of Ifrah who also has a dual citizenship with Britain. Their wedding was a landmark event amongst millions of Nigerians and Somalians who believe that it would be rare to see Muslim and Christian join together in holy matrimony. It is a true testament of how love should conquer all fears and prejudices.

Also a philanthropist, Victor prefers to live a life of looking out for others by seeking opportunities that can bring an end or drastically reduce the spate of unemployment, poverty and pollution in the Niger Delta region; he believes that this is the hinge on which the end to youth restiveness, insecurity and all social vices without which investment, growth (especially in tourism and increase in oil production in the region) rest. His famous quote ‘to end terrorism, you must first end poverty’ is always so apt. Victor notes that people who propagate terrorism have always preyed on individuals from poor backgrounds to further their cause. He maintains that a visit by the IMF to the Niger Delta region and the North Eastern part of Nigeria will reveal to them that those who have been brainwashed to carry out violent acts of terrorism are hundred percent poor.

James believes that the matter is further aggravated by crime and corruption as perpetrated by Nigeria’s political elites and the clergymen who have soiled their hands with them. He argues that these people are part of the failure in Nigeria’s political culture and leadership. In fact, some clergymen in Nigeria are so rich to the tune of billions but too selfish to offer their poor congregation and other less privileged in different parts of the country, scholarships or charitable aids. According to Victor, religious leaders in Nigeria make huge money from Tithes, yet, they are unable to give 10 percent to support poverty alleviation among widows. This has exacerbated corruption and deceit in Nigeria, where, even in the face of widespread corruption among public office holders, the clergymen who are supposed to condemn the acts and use their spirituality to help propagate effectiveness and accountability in the polity would rather keep mum. During election, some clergymen would even campaign publicly in favour of some candidates. James would prefer to see a secular society with rule of law; where politics is separated from religion. This is of particular necessity especially in a multi-religious state as we have. James believes that should Nigeria adopt secularism; it would be the end of religious fanaticism in the country.
James continues to spend his time giving humanitarian assistance in Nigeria; he loves to help orphans and widows.
He believes that the international community has done little to help advance the cause of gender equality in Nigeria’s political space; whereas, any country without active participation of women in key political positions is only towing the path of eventual self-destruction.

James, from time to time, would stay in the forefront of the campaign for mandatory fingerprints registration and database for the citizens of Nigeria; he believes this will help to keep accurate records, especially of men of the underworld whose records would be stored in a proposed “Criminal Records Bureau (CRB)”. James notes that to motivate the citizens to freely participate in the exercise, the federal government should be ready to create the department of social welfare for her citizens where those without a job could get a stipend of at least 20, 000 naira monthly as social security benefit; he believes this will help reduce crime, homelessness, tackle poverty as well as other social vices in the country. This, he believes, will help to discourage embezzlement of public funds and the flagrant stashing of the nation’s wealth abroad for fear of being stolen. The money can then be ploughed back into the system for our economy to thrive. That singular act can also be the end of vote buying as the citizen will now be comfortable enough to apply their conscience when they vote.

James also believes that most of the cabals in Nigeria and their clergymen cohorts are merely representing some western interests. Although that in itself is not a problem as it is within anybody’s fundamental human rights to represent whatever interests they so much believe in; the problem starts when they do so with reckless selfishness and trying to control the people in the process. Moreover, this people are old and do not have the modern capacity to pursue the agendas of the new age. James believes that these western interests should work with young vibrant Nigerians who know what it takes to care for the people and their fatherland.

James opines that his generation is not only very civil, they are also very democratic. Thus, Nigerians should give them the privilege of serving the nation rather than recycling the same old hands who are only good in dividing the country along religious and ethnic lines. The current old politicians lack the needed human face and feeling required to galvanise the country; seeing they are more interested fueling mayhem among the citizens so they can seize the opportunity to sign fat budget for the purpose of solving such problem. Creating problem for the sole aim of profiting from it. James believes these politicians are only good in promoting violence and insecurities in their state to enable them get large security votes and budget in return. There is not an iota of concern in their mind whether the lives of the people are endangered or not as long as they find a way to hang on to power.

This is the same problem you see perpetrated by some International Institutions. These International Institutions know the root cause of poverty and insecurity in Africa but they chose to turn blind eye because it is their source of income. For any act of evil, there has to be someone who’s benefiting from it and such person will stop at nothing to continue to fuel such evil. It becomes their opportunity to sign huge sums of money as grants and pretend to send charitable aids to Africa; meanwhile, about 25 percent of the money received would be used for mainstream media advert to give false impression to the public that billions have been sunk to solve poverty in some part of Africa whereas it is a ruse. Another 25 percent would be used to sponsor their puppets in some African countries as Presidents. You wonder why we have crisis in most part of Africa today? 40 percent of the money gets diverted to the bank account they set up in somewhere Africa and only 10 percent of the money they signed foris used for any meaningful aid. Charity fraud has become prevalent among those who have access to international institutions, so there should be watchdogs for those who collect such grants.

James notes that Nigeria has so many tourist destinations scattered all over the country but lacks the marketing strategy to attract tourists. He stressed this during one of his meetings with the assembly member for Swansea West, Julie James. There are many beautiful tourist centers in Nigeria that can potentially generate serious revenue for the country but the Federal and States Governments lack strategic ability to leverage on them. Electricity is also essential for this as it provides the backbone for this industry to actually flourish.
James believes that the Government is not only designed to govern the people but to also create opportunities for the citizens to thrive through investment projects, provision of operational frameworks, regulations and amenities for such industries like tourism and other institutions to flourish to the benefit of the people. Through the power of the media and strategic positioning, the country can compete favorably at any level.

Dubai and Turkey, for example, generate Billions of Dollars from tourism each year. For James, Governance is like a product, the way you package it in the media will determine the returns; if Nigeria wants investors to troop into the country in droves, then the Government should provide adequate security and stop the media game of making Nigeria’s Niger Delta a kidnappers’ den. Nigeria should know that this makes us look bad in the eye of the international community and no serious investor worth his onions would risk his money for an uncertain bleak future in a country where nothing is guaranteed. At worst, those who are dumb and greedy enough to take the risks would put their headquarters in Lagos and Abuja while they drill for crude oil in the far Niger Delta polluting the region in the process and leaving the people staring into thin air with nothing to fall back on.. Why not improve the security machinery, fight against poverty in every part of the country; increase the salaries of security operatives such as the Police, Army, Secret Service, etc; so they wouldn’t compromise their jobs or take bribes.

James also opines that there is need to partner with the Niger Delta states via the Niger Delta Development Commission, NDDC, to enable investments and tourism growth in the region. It is the duty of both State and Federal Governments to provide security for tourists and investors. Also Nigerian governors should start appointing Nigerians who are based overseas and are keen to use their skills to develop Nigeria. This is to enable them inject fresh inter-atlantic knowledge in Nigerian leadership. He calls on governors to appoint Diaspora desks in major European cities and other developed countries and appoint liaison officers to represent them there so that the job of attracting investors and fostering tourism growth in their states is made seamless. This is another form of
job creation as well as empowerment. The Nigerian Embassies in Diaspora are too small to carry out this task and besides, this desk should be to provide visibility for the state government. The aim is to help bring the states closer to international institutions.

Finally, James believes that it is inhuman to commercialize the struggle of Niger Delta following the environmental degradation by oil companies. The oil multinationals, local chiefs, paramount rulers, elected politicians and those who have license to the oil blocks are the evil entities the country must fight. These people have conducted their businesses with flagrant disregard for human life and to the detriment of the host communities. Bribes have been offered and taken; some even use their positions to collect money for oil spills clean up. Above all, James believes the Federal Government should be blamed for not maintaining integrity and rule of law in their crusade against environmental degradation. Today, life expectancy in Niger delta is below 50 due to several hazardous pollutions from the activities of the multinationals. The ecosystem is completely destroyed where the livelihood of the people is farming and fishing; farmers complain of infertile and polluted farmlands while fishermen rue poisoned rivers and sea, always coming off with dead fish.

The rate of pollution is not just an issue of the Niger Delta anymore; it’s now a nationwide phenomenon as people in other parts of the country are predicted to live below 55 years too. So Nigerians should stand up against global warming and pollution in the country. The time is also right for the international community to rise up and lend their voice to the crusade for environmental conservation and crude oil spill cleanup in Nigeria; if not, their open show may be construed as jokes and a scam.

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