“If you will not fight for your rights
when you can easily win without bloodshed, you will come to the moment when you will have to fight with all the odds against you.”
“The planned Niger-Delta summit by the Federal Government is nothing but a “time-buying syndrome” and diversionary tactics to undermine the yearnings and aspirations of the good people of the region.”
Prince Clement Bebenimibo, a conflict management expert. June, 2008.
“The vigour with which the Federal Government has continued to deploy warships as well as military personnel to the troubled Niger Delta is ironic, bearing in mind that while the Federal Government is making an arrangement to organise a summit in the region, it is also preparing for war. He described as regrettable a situation where a government is taking arms against its people. This act is condemnable. President Umaru Yar’Adua has continued to take instructions from opinion leaders and ignoring the wishes of the oil rich region. Afenifere is worried by the rate at which warships, gunboats and military personnel are being deployed to the Niger Delta region in the last few days. It is quite ironical that while talking of a Niger Delta Summit on the one hand, the Yar’Adua administration is putting up all preparations for war in the Niger Delta and the military spokespersons have refused to use the word war’. Afenifere condemns the attempt to militarise the Niger Delta as it makes no sense for a government to take up arms against its own people. It is quite unfortunate that the President, backed by opinion leaders from a section of the country, continues to see only the criminality’ going on in the Niger Delta, ignoring the criminal acts of total neglect of the region that has laid the proverbial golden egg since 1958. At the heart of the present crisis is the increasing agitation for a better deal by the people of the Niger Delta. Afenifere backs their agitation for 50 per cent derivation as a just and fair demand. We also condemn the insensitive comments by the Arewa leader that the leaders of the South-South are wasteful. The wastefulness of a few leaders imposed most of the time by the same complainants is not a basis to deny the people of their fair demand. That a former governor of
Yinka Odumakin, National Publicity Secretary, The pan-Yoruba socio-political organization, Afenifere.
Excerpt of speech, June, 2008.
“The government is not sincere, because if it were, then it would be talking to Okah who is in its custody and proposing this same amnesty to him. The fact though, is that the Niger Delta should be the one offering amnesty to the Nigerian government and not the other way. The soldiers sent there to rape, loot and kill and past leaders who have used our wealth to develop their areas to the detriment of the Niger Delta should be the ones requesting amnesty from us. The recent incident where the Joint Task Force allegedly invaded several fishing communities and razed down mud and thatched houses of impoverished families who have suffered injustice for over 50 years should make any militant have a re-think. These poor communities, more than ever, need armed fighters to balance the equation and protect them. “We have said it before. Gambari is the least qualified in terms of integrity to chair any committee on the Niger Delta. Here is a man who defended the actions of that despot, Sani Abacha and justified the killing of Ken Saro Wiwa to the United Nations. For even considering Gambari without doing a check on the man is an indication of the direction the summit will head, which to our opinion is failure after a jamboree.”
Jomo Gbomo, MEND spokesman. excerpt of speech in reaction to Yaradua’s offer of amnesty. June 2008.
“The militants’ struggle was moral and valid, hence government would not achieve the desired peace through its current carrot-and-stick stance.Okah’s trial should stop. The government should give general amnesty to the boys. If you give general amnesty and free Okah, then government will hear a lot that has to be said than what will be said in court. Free Okah and that is the only way we can move forward.”
Tam-David-West. Reaction to Yaradua’s offer of amnesty to
“Nobody should appeal for Gambari and Gambari, himself, should not tell us to give him benefit of doubt because he is still the same Gambari we know, he is not going to change, he is just playing to the gallery, we know these people, they should stop deceiving us. Gambari has said that the summit is for all Nigerians but focused on the Niger-Delta, he is saying that Nigerians will decide at the summit. What do they want to tell us at the summit, is it that when it was groundnut and cocoa, that the money was used to develop the entire country, is that not what they want to tell us at the conference? These people are not willing to give Niger-Delta what we are asking for. Did
Joseph Evah, Coordinator of the Ijaw Monitoring Group,. Reaction to the appointment of Gambari as the chairman of the
“Gambari does not understand the dynamics of the Niger-Delta agitation. That is why he played the evil role he played in the Niger-Delta during the execution of Ken Saro-Wiwa. Ken Saro-Wiwa led one of the most peaceful organizations in the world that was asking for change but Gambari stood up in the United Nations to justify the crushing of the peace crusader. Look, this man does not understand us and the same way, he rationalized away the killing of Saro-Wiwa is the same way he going to negotiate away our destiny in the proposed summit. If he said it was the circumstances of the situation then, we have not seen any thing different from then till now and on his part, he is still the same fox that we know him to be. He is only there to carry out the bid of his masters the way he did in the past. To even worsen matters, the characters in the Steering Committee are people that are far away from home. They are people that are at sea on the issues on ground and if these are the people the Federal Government has put together, then, it has put ill-equipped people to handle its jamboree”. The Joint Task Force on the Niger-Delta was also making the same mistake, as it was bent on fighting the people, instead of consolidating on the peace efforts that the Federal Government initially started with. The manner the JTF was going about its job in the region was wrong, as some people had made sacrifice for peace in the region, only for it to be using the problems caused by irreconcilable elements to undermine the sacrifices that were made by others.
Owelle Dennis Otuaro, Delta state activist, reaction to the appointment of Gambari. July, 2008.
“As far as I am concerned, there have been a lot of committees, it has been a lot of talk-talk, no action. I can even tell you that let the President be the head of the committee, it will still be no action. Why not take up one or two things, do it for the people. It is not the question of the person that is there, remember what former President Olusegun Obasanjo did by bringing a religious person, Rev. Fr. Matthew Kukah, look at all what the man said they should do. Was it done? It is just to pacify the people that we are doing something, they are doing nothing. It is always one committee, then another and money is being spent on them. They are going to spend money to keep this people going, why can’t they spend this money to rectify the problems in this place? Why not go right to the root of the problem. Let them get all the reports so far on the Niger Delta and start implementing the recommendations.”
Anthony Cardinal Olubunmi Okogie, Archbishop of the Metropolitan of
SLOW AND STEADY WINS THE RACE AND A JOURNEY OF A THOUSAND MILES STARTS WITH A STEP.
Without any exaggeration, the Niger delta militant groups have come a long way in their just struggle not only in taking control over their mineral resources, but also in their quest and determination to get rid of the north, which has become a perpetual liability, burden and parasite to the whole of the south in general, for good. Irrespective of what might have transacted in the past between the
So far, their militant activities have yielded some remarkable results. They have succeeded in internationalising their campaign for justice, and exposing the hypocrisy of the northern led Federal government, which could afford to spend billions of dollars of their (Niger delta’s) oil money on building a new capital from scratch for itself, but under different pretextes, has continued to deny the bonafide owners of the resources access to even basic amenities. They have succeeded in unmasking heartless northern dictators that have ruled over Nigeria since independence which could afford to budget #444.6 billion of their money for security in the N.D., but give them only a fraction of this money for their survival.
The descendants of Usman Dan Fodio, realising that the Niger delta militants will not bulge, and are as well ready to go to any length to defend and fight for their interests, and with much at stake for them to loose, have been compelled to call for a N.D. summit to address the crises. It was a decision that they were forced to make out of desperation! Yaradua, eventually, came to terms with the fact that the
However, despite the remarkable success that was recorded by the militants and the resonance the crises has generated all over the world, nevertheless, suffice to say that they still have a long way to go in their quest to take ‘full’ control over their resources and free themselves from the bondage called One Nigeria. This present stage could be the most tempting, trying and decisive in their struggle. Victory, though man seem at hand, however, any wrong or uncalculated move on their side could shatter their dream of freeing themselves from the clutches and hegemony of the evil northern led Nigerian government. Any tactical mistake could be fatal, irreversible and bring to naught all their efforts, perseverance and sacrifice.
Thus, the purpose of the concluding part of this article is to give recommendations to the N.D. militant groups on how to avoid silly mistakes, and pursue to the logical and successful end their struggle and campaign which started even long before martyrs like Isaac Boro and his colleagues were murdered in cold blood by the north. It’s worth mentioning that uncountable number of illustrious Ijaw, Ogoni sons have already laid down their lives in the ‘uncompromised war’ for freedom of their down trodden people. Today, the freedom torch is being carried by new generations of brave N.D. sons like, Henry Okah, Asari Dokubo, Jomo Gbomo, Atete, to mention but just a few.
Needless to say that the south in general should, and must be interested in the fate and ultimate victory of the Niger delta militants over the evil Yaradua led government because their victory, undoubtedly, is also our victory. We all need to doff our hats for these young boys and men who are risking their lives for our ‘collective’ freedom. Definitely, the Niger delta crises is a catalyst to the ‘inevitable’ disintegration of the evil country called Nigeria, a ‘sole’ creation of the heartless British to serve their selfish interests at the expense of the whole south. The fraud and illegality in the emergence of Ngeria as a country reminds me of a Yoruba proverb that goes thus ” Ti iro ba sare fun ogun odun, otito a ba ni ojo
MEET THE MAJOR PLAYERS IN THE BIG
Before giving any recommendations as regards to how the N.D. can avoid unnecessary mistakes and emerge winner in their struggle, it’s of utmost importance to first understand the major players and stakeholders in the N.D. crises. Another synonym for the
There are 4 major players and/or stakeholders in the complicated N.D. crises and oil game. They are as follow:
1. The Federal
2. The multinational oil companies;
3. Major importers of
4. The poor
1. The Federal