Alamiyeisegha and the Niger Delta Question

by Bayo Olupohunda

The urgent need to lend a voice to the approach now making the round concerning the resolution of the Niger Delta crisis and place it in the public domain for its hollowness of purpose and intention fired my resolve to write this piece. My thoughts were further fuelled while reading Reuben Abati’s brilliant piece titled “Is Alami Now a Hero” in the Guardian of 5th August 2007.

Abati’s submissions later confirmed my fears, but I was also convinced that any approach and hope that any individual holds the key to the quelling of the militancy and eventual resolution of the crisis in the Niger Delta is bound to fail. This we have seen after the release of Mujaheed Asari Dokubo.Any ‘covert approach’ not founded on sincerity of purpose and real development of the region will further worsen the Niger Delta question which has now become an open sore of our nation.

As widely reported, and which was put in its right perspective by Abati. Alamiyeisegha is said to now be in Dubai for further medical treatment after being released in a plea bargaining deal from his conviction for money laundering and abuse of office.

But the above in it self is not an issue as Alami as he is fondly called is entitled to the complement of full health and Medicare in a first class hospital overseas which he and his ilk denied their fellow citizens at home. Of more importance to this writer is the erroneous thinking and proposition in certain quarters that Deprieye Alamiyeisigha is very crucial to the resolution of the crisis in the volatile Niger Delta region. This to me is a farce and a chasing after the wind.

Like Reuben Abati, l am also worried about the possibility of Alami becoming a hero in a country where true heroes are celebrated as villains. Is it not possible that Alami in the not too distant future may be considered for a Presidential pardon, conferred with a National Honour and made to have his place in the National Hall of Fame? This fear is even now being made genuine by the report that he is now being considered to hold the key to the resolution of the protracted Niger Delta crises that is fast grounding our dear nation to a halt and crippling the economy.

Indeed those, like Abati, who have expressed worries about the impending rehabilitation and beautification of Alami and his fellow travelers into sainthood, may be proved right in the end. For those who have a grip of our recent history would remember a certain Salisu Buhari in the wake of our nascent democracy in 1999. The man Salisu, who was involved in certificate forgery found his way to the revered position as the first Speaker in the hallowed chamber of the House of Representatives in what has become the most celebrated scandal of all time not because of the importance of the man Salisu but for the shocking revelation that he found himself in the apex of our law making house. It was later found out that this man hardly completed his secondary school education. That in itself is the tragedy of our nation with its abundance human resources. Where is Salisu now? Well for those who do not know. Soon after the ‘Toronto Certificate’ scandal, he was pardoned by the Obasanjo government with a pat on the back. Having lain low for sometime, he became a government contractor and was later appointed on the Board of the Nigerian Educational Research Development Council (NERDC) as the Chairman. Cry my Beloved Country. What a tragedy? What a country?

So Alami and the others may well be on their way to being truly rehabilitated. They will not be the first. The self imposed Governor-General of the Ijaw Nation may soon make a triumphant entry into the country enroute Yenagoa to the warm embrace of his traumatized people who cannot separate his travails from the larger struggle for resource control and the development of the Niger Delta region. This again brings me to the focus of this piece which is on the current calculations to unfortunately narrow down the resolution of the Niger Delta crisis to the plight of Diepriye Alamiyeisegha. The mood of the moment now sadly suggests that Alami holds the key to the resolution of militancy and the broader problems in the area. This is what is now being bandied about now by some latter day analysts. The present government is also naively buying-in into this hogwash.

That Alamiyeigha is crucial to the resolution of the crisis cannot be further from the truth for reasons I will adduced to in the rest of this article. The genesis of this line of thought can be traced back to two years ago when the various militia groups made as a condition for ceasefire in the region, the release of Asari Dokubo and Alamiyeisigha. This new twist is even being given more credence going by commentary from some Nigerians and those who we thought should know better that the solution to the current crisis in the region is beyond the heroism of one man or a group of men especially when these personalities have been heavily indicted and convicted for plundering the resources of that same region which has led to their underdevelopment and violent militancy.

The Yardua administration will be chasing shadows if it allows itself to be hoodwinked into believing the current thinking that the peace process can be shouldered by a certain Honorary Adviser to the Niger Delta. On the contrary, the dynamics of dousing of the crises caused by decades of neglect if hinged on a personality and not on issues of development and sincerity of purpose will blow up in our face.

I am surprised that proponents of this new found ‘Alami Solution’ are not asking what has happened since the release of Mujaheed Asari Dokubo. Have we found the desired peace in the region? Has it stemmed the wave of shootings, killings, kidnapping and the general state of insecurity in the area? Now a new twist in the ugly saga is the emerging kidnapping for ransome of innocent children. The wave of militancy has increased tenfold and right now Port Harcourt is like a war zone where life is ugly, short and brutish. The question is. Why hasn’t Asari Dokubo waved his magic wand for immediate peace to be restored since his release? Was his release not a pre-condition given by the militias for peace to reign in the region? What was the response of the militias when Asari asked for a ceasefire and called kidnappers criminals? Didn’t they call his bluff? Has even the emergence of Jonathan Goodluck as the Vice President provided the ultimate solution to the restoring of peace in the region? Is the VP not a son of the soil? Has he not attained the highest position an Ijaw man could only dream of achieving in the political history of this nation? Can we now see the futility of pinning the hope of a resolution to the personality of individuals? Will the emergence of Alami make a difference? The answer is a resounding NO.

In spite of these, the analysts are now making us believe that Alami could be the messiah we need for the final solution to the mammoth problems that face the region. Tell me. Will he now suddenly stop the unending gas flaring, the excruciating poverty, massive unemployment, environmental degradation, provide quality schools, health institutions and the psychological trauma inflicted on his people resulting from subjugation that have been their lot in recent years? We now run the risk of narrowing down the crisis to youth restiveness and militancy in the region. But every discerning Nigerian knows that this is just the fallout of a bigger problem.

My advice to the Yar’adua government is to look beyond this present quick fix solution to the Niger Delta which has done incalculable damage to our economy, our national security and dragged us in the mud before the international community. The present seizing and killing of foreigners, little children, blowing up of oil pipelines and installations in the region is a deep symptom of a massive problem of no mean proportion. Only a holistic approach to its solution can stem the tide of this problem that is threatening to consume us all.

As a first step, the Yar’adua government should adopt a sincere approach to the problems of the region. Past experience have shown that no matter how many bureaucratic institutions were put in place under different names (remember OMPADEC and now NDDC) without the required will and sincerity, all money voted will end up the way they have always ended- mismanaged. And as for the new thinking that necessitated Alami’s visit to the Presidential Villa, I make bold to say that it is a chasing after the shadows that will lead nowhere. Alamiyeisigha was being clever by the half when he alluded to his freedom being connected to the piece in the Delta. My submission is this. Long after he would have assumed his new role as the undercover Chief Adviser to the Niger Delta (in the words of Abati) the militancy would still be far from being over. What the government need is the overall development of the region, while holding the governors and other office holders accountable to their people and not pin its solution on the whims and caprices of one man. The increase in the wave of militancy after the release of Mujaheed Asari Dokubo and the emergence of Jonathan Goodluck as Vice President should be a lesson to us all.

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1 comment

Anonymous September 7, 2007 - 2:28 pm

As long as the powers that be force leaders on the people of the Niger Delta it would be a waste of time.I am not surprised you never made mention of that.When will you and the likes of Ruben Abati stop your double standards? In the case of Ruben Abati he called for a "soft landing" for Obasanjo but always antagonized Alamieyeseigha.The people of Bayelsa and indeed the Ijaw nation do see that their son Alamieyeseigha was just being badly treated.If not how do you explain Odili`s continued freedom? Or what about the former A.D. governors that are untouchables? Why will people like Obasanjo be celebrated by their people and you insist that Alamieyeseigha should not be celebrated by his people.


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