How The Niger Deltans Can Get Their Freedom: The Action Plan! (Part 6)

3. DEMAND FOR A REFERENDUM.

To the surprise of many, Yaradua’s colonial government has suddenly replaced its war threat and invitation to Gordon Brown to massacre the Niger Deltans with a N.D. committee, special Ministry and other sweetening and packages. The northern led federal government even went as far as indirectly, but not officially, through one of its puppet, an indigene of the Niger Delta, apologizing for all the injustices and humiliation the north has subjected the region and its indigenes to for almost 50 years, and that she should be given the chance to make a redress. What a sudden change of heart! What a repentance! Before going further, it’s important to make some observations here.

First, the north and its allies – the British and Americans- seem to have realized at last that the N.D. militants have not fallen or caved in to their war threat. Perhaps, they were expecting the leaders of the militant groups to panic and surrender immediately, fall on their knees and start begging the evil Nigerian government for amnesty. Unfortunately for them, instead of this happening, the war threat has generated a completely different reaction from the militants. The war threat has only made them go mad, and to demonstrate their anger and determination to pursue their case to a logical end, they went on to blow up more pipelines. The war threat seem to have not only failed, but has as well backfired. What a pity.

Secondly, by making a sudden U-turn within just 3 weeks after the war threat, the northern led federal government is not only feeling the economic and political pressures from the N.D., but is as well already coming to terms with the fact that the N.D. crisis has generated so much tension, disapproval and very negative publicity for the government both inside and outside Nigeria that sending troops to the region to quench the uprising is a very big gamble and risk. Political events within the past 2 decades especially have completely changed the mood in the South especially among the Yoruba that waging a war in the N.D. will automatically lead to the break up of Nigeria. The Hausas and Fulani are very much aware of the fact that they can not count on the support of Yoruba if they decide to start another civil war in the N.D. Today, the mood in the entire South – thanks to decades of injustice, economic deprivation, mismanagement, oppression, suppression and insincerity of the north – is totally different from that of 1967-70, when the first civil war was fought. The Yoruba will NEVER repeat the mistake that they made in 1967. Even a cynic does not doubt the fact that Nigeria will NEVER survive a second civil war.

Thirdly, the militants must understand that the sudden U-turn of the north is not out of repentance or love for them, but because they have realized they have more to loose if the N.D. crisis escalates and leads to the eventual break up of Nigeria. In actual fact, all the north is trying to achieve now with its ‘Greek gift’ is to make some little concessions to the N.D. inn order to cool tension and continue exploiting the region and the entire South in the name of building a fake and non-existing one Nigeria that the South never subscribed to in the first place.

However, the most important observation in the unexpected U-turn and the new proposals of the north is the ‘psychological aspect.’ By quickly backing down from its previous war rhetoric and threat, and quickly replacing it with enticing proposals to appease the militants, the north in essence has defacto indirectly admitted that the ‘final say’ as far as the Niger Delta crisis is concerned lies with the militants, and neither with the north, Britain, the United States and the multinational oil companies. The north has eventually comes to terms with the fact that without the consent of the militants, there can be no more peace in the region; and without peace and stability in the region, neither the north, the British, Americans nor the multinational oil companies can lift or/and sell oil in the quantity they want. The north and its allies have eventually admitted that the militants are a force to be reckoned with – and that the best way to deal with them is not through threat but ‘constructive dialogue.’

In negotiations, when a side does not just improve his offer significantly in order to close a deal or resolve a conflict, but as well abandons his previous position and takes a complete different one, what this means is that he is very desperate and needs the deal badly – at any cost – because without the deal, he is going to be in serious trouble Based on the new proposal of the north to the militants and our analysis, we could as well infer that the previous war threat was more of a bluff than a real threat.

This unexpected U-turn has gone a long way to prove again that in actual fact, it ions the militants that are in control of events. With the new proposals to appease the militants, the north has defacto admitted that its previous tactics of intimidation and war threats are no more effective in bullying the militants to submission. Though, many of us might not realize it, but the N.D. crisis has just entered another phase – in favour of the militants.

Having said this, nevertheless, the militants must understand that all these new proposals from the north are not only stop gap measures, far from providing a fair and lasting solution, but are as well baits or traps. One can say with confidence that these proposals are not a sincere desire that comes from deep in the heart to really find an acceptable solution to the N.D. crisis. Special and separate Ministry of Niger Delta, NDDF, committees, etc, are nothing but new tactics designed by the north and its allies, the British and Americans, to continue manipulating the N.D. and deprive them access to their resources for their own development. Otherwise, how does one explain the fact that all the north could come up with now, after the Niger Delta Summit failed – before even taking off – is a special Ministry for the N.D. which will most likely be headed by a corrupt indigene who is a puppet of the north. This visionless proposal goes a long way to prove again the incompetence of Yaradua as a president and the insincerity of the north. I was just wondering what criteria will be used by Yaradua to determine which states and/or ethnic groups will be qualified to be included in the new ministry? Will Ondo State which is also oil rich and bordered by the Niger Delta be included? And what if tomorrow a very large commercial deposit of diamonds is discovered in Ibadan tomorrow, and the indigenes take up arms against the north to stop them from stealing their demands in the name of building a fake one Nigeria? Will the north set up another special Ministry or/and committees for Ibadan or Oyo State that will handle their grievances? With these new and senseless proposals, it’s obvious that the north has something up its sleeve.

Unfortunately for the north, she has miscalculated because I am sure beyond any reasonable doubts that the N.D. militants will not fall for these senseless proposals, and will hold on till they achieve their main objective – which is a sovereign country.

There is more than enough basis for the above assumption and conclusion. Chronicle of pol

itical events in Nigeria since independence have proved over and over that the north is not trustworthy and does not believe in one Nigeria, but just uses it as a good pretext to continue holding on to power, which automatically gives her an automatic free and unlimited right to be stealing the vast resources in the whole South. If the north was sincere, it should not have allowed the situation in the region to degenerate to this level in the first place. For example, how does one explain the fact that corruption has not prevented the north from pumping billions of dollars of the N.D. oil money into the construction of a new capital for itself from scratch, but when it comes to providing even basic amenities for the region that gives the country more than 85% of its foreign earnings, the same north is powerless? If the north really cared about the welfare of the Niger Deltans, it should had taken the trouble to set up a Ministry of Niger Delta the very moment oil was discovered in Oluoibiri, and not wait until they took up arms and started blowing up oil pipes and rigs. The glaring fact that there is a special ministry set up by the north to cater for the Federal Capital Territory, while the north does not see it fit to create a similar ministry for the N.D. that lays practically all the golden eggs that feed the whole Nigeria including Abuja till the time of writing – almost 50 years after the discovery of oil in the region – goes a long way to prove the hypocrisy and insensitiveness of the north

If you have been subjected by somebody for many years to political oppression, suppression, economic deprivation, etc, and threatens to wipe you out of the face of the earth for resisting him, and all of a sudden he claims to love you and is ready to do anything for you that will make you lay down your arms and stop fighting him, you definitely need to be suspicious of such a ‘sudden love’ – otherwise, you are making yourself an easy prey for your enemy.

For the sake of self-preservation, you need to be wary of a partner who has been untrustworthy and dubious to you for almost 50 years, and all of a sudden hugs you and tries to convince you that he is now a ‘born-again partner.’ Experience has shown that such kind of unexpected U-turn or midnight conversion/repentance are insincere and don’t last for long. A thief will always remain a thief, and a pimp will always remain a pimp – all things being equal – unless they are compelled by some external forces beyond their control and power to give up their evil deeds.

In essence, what one is trying to say is that it will be very naive and disastrous for the N.D. militants to believe that the north has turned on a new leaf, and is now ready not only to correct past injustice, but is equally committed to the one Nigeria project.

Furthermore, it is worth noting that the proposal of the north in resolving the N.D. crisis is a ‘reactionary,’ and not a ‘proactive’ one. There is a very big difference in taking a reactionary and proactive measure. When you are reactionary, you react in order to minimize, control or stop the damage that has already been done due to your negligence, unprofessionalism, insincerity, shortcomings, e.t.c. But proactiveness is about designing and implementing mechanisms that will reduce the probability or completely exclude the occurrence of a crisis – right from the onset.

In other words, if the north which has ruled over Nigeria directly or indirectly for almost 50 years had adopted proactive policies in relation to the Niger Delta and its indigenes right from the onset – when oil was discovered – by ensuring that the region is not just well developed by world standard, but is equally the ‘most developed’ region in Nigeria, that most of the indigenes are gainfully employed, and well represented in the oil and gas sectors and punishing multinational oil companies severely for oil pollution, it’s obvious that the country will not be witnessing the escalating militancy in the region. The north, out of arrogance and overconfidence naively believed that it would always have political events in Nigeria under its full control forever, and never could imagine – even in their wildest dream – that these local boys, still living in the delta like the Stone Age, could effectively organize arms uprising against the looting of their resources.

So, the one billion dollar question. What do you do with an unproductive and parasitic partner, who was forced on you in the first place, and has been trustworthy and with you for almost 50 years? What do you do with an insensitive partner – who has become a perpetual burden and liability on you – whose only argument to keep you in a lopsided and colonial relationship are threat and force? The only feasible solution is to get rid of him as soon as possible – at the slightest opportunity. It’s a complete waste of time and energy trying to persuade him, or hoping that he will turn on a new leaf come one day. You will be much better off being on your own than having an arrogant, insensitive, parasitic and an ungrateful partner around you. You do much better off spending that time and energy on concentrating your resources ‘fully’ on your own development.

Therefore, my advice to the N.D. militants is to turn down ALL proposals from the north, no matter how attractive, and DEMAND for a NATIONAL REFERENDUM where every ethnic group will decide whether it wants to renew or extend its forced membership and slavery in Nigeria, an evil creation of the British! If the north is sincere in its intention to solve the N.D. crisis and all political tensions in the South as a whole, it does not need to entice the Niger Deltans with special ministry, committees, more derivation percentage, development funds, and e.t.c. All it needs to do is to FIRST OF ALL organize a NATIONAL REFERENDUM, which will be supervised by the United Nations delegates who are not from America, Canada, Britain, Australia and New Zealand, where all the respective ethnic groups in the South will decide if they want to remain in the colony of the north called ‘Nigeria.‘.

REFERENDUM or SNC: Is there a difference? And which one should come first?

Recently, many respected Nigerians, including the legal icon, Chief Gani Fawehinmi, have called on Yaradua to organize a S.N.C. where an acceptable Constitution based on true federalism will be worked out for the country. With all due respects to all these intellectual giants and men of vision calling for a convocation of a S.N.C. and true federalism, nevertheless, I want to draw attention to one very serious flaw or shortcoming in this well intentioned proposal. As I have already highlighted in my previous articles “‘One Nigeria’: To be or not to be? (parts 2&6),” S.N.C, just like Constitutional Amendment has one very serious shortcoming: ‘it naively and automatically assumes that all the ethnic groups in the South, including the Niger Delta, want to remain in Nigeria; therefore, all they need to do is to just sit down in Abuja and work out an acceptable Constitution that will pave the way for true federalism. In my opinion, this is not only a wrong and naive assumption, but a very dangerous one. Neither a Constitution Amendment nor S.N.C. give the major ethnic groups in the South the option of forming their own respective sovereign countries. The Ijaws, Ndigbos and Yoruba are more than large enough – population and territory wise – to form their own respective sovereign countries, which may include smaller neighbouring ethnic groups – provided they are willing. Unfortunately, neither a Constitutional Amendment nor S.N.C. give these ethnic groups the opportunity to realize the right or desire to rule over themselves within a smaller but better managed sovereign countries. C.A. and S.N.C. automatically rule out this option.

It’s an ‘undisputable fact’ that Nigeria was formed by the British against the wish of the respective ethnic groups in the South, subsequently, after October 1st, 1960, any attempt by any ethnic group or groups to coerce any other ethnic group or groups into remaining in this unsubscribed union automatically tantamount to ‘internal colonialism.’ The ‘illegal formation or emergence’ of Nigeria as a country should be the first and primary issue that needs to be addressed properly before any other issues like federalism, S.N.C. and Constitutional Amendment are tackled. It’s obvious that if not for the British, the probability of the Ijaws, Ndigbos, Ijaws and other ethnic groups ‘voluntarily’ forming one country with the Hausas and Fulani respectively is equal to zero – simply because they have ABSOLUTELY nothing in common. Therefore, any attempt to resolve the N.D. crisis MUST start from correcting this unfortunate historical fact and mistake, which has turned out to be a big tragedy for the whole South! It’s obvious that the emergence of Nigeria as a country – during colonialism – that brought the Yoruba, Ijaws and Ndigbos together with the Hausas and Fulani in the same country is a historical mistake and tragedy that must be corrected as soon as possible! The Ijaws, Ndigbos and Yoruba are completely strange bed-fellows with the Hausas and Fulani!

While seeking ‘acceptable solution(s) to the N.D. crisis, we all need to understand that without addressing this issue of fundamental importance, Nigeria will continue to be hunted by endless and serious political crisis. Trying to sweep this issue under the carpet will tantamount to self-deceit and destruction. We need to summon up the courage and get to the roots of this problem, and the only feasible way to do that is through a NATIONAL REFERENDUM, and NOT a S.N.C. The Ijaws, Ndigbos, Yoruba and other ethnic groups in the South MUST be allowed to decide in a REFERENDUM if they still want to remain in Nigeria, which was carved out by Britain to serve its selfish economic interests. If all these ethnic groups vote against the continuation of their unsubscribed membership in Nigeria, the north should respect their choice and let them go peacefully – without any strings attached. There is no other way out! The South does not owe the north anything for her to continue holding the former to ransom. In contrast, the South has invested and as well squandered billions of dollars and millions of man-power hours in the north.

Without a national referendum, there can never be peace in Nigeria, and the South will always feel that it’s being colonized by the north. This kind of feeling does not auger well for the unity of the country which is one of the main prerequisites in developing a country. Analysis of practically all civil wars in Africa has shown that this is their main roots or cause.

Thus, the first step in resolving the Niger Delta crisis is a national referendum. The only situation or scenario where a SNC can precede a referendum is to work out an acceptable modality for conducting and organizing the referendum. In that case, a SNC will be referred to as ‘preliminary SNC.’ The result of such a referendum should be based on a simple majority of each ethnic group; and NOT on an overall national result. In other words, each ethnic group should decide for themselves their membership in the hell on earth called Nigeria. Yoruba should decide for only Yoruba, and neither for the Ndigbos, Ijaws nor other ethnic groups. Likewise, the Hausas and Fulani should decide

for the Hausas and Fulani respectively, and neither for the Yoruba, Ndigbos, Ijaws nor other ethnic groups. The result of the referendum of each ethnic group will only be binding on that ethnic group. For example, if a majority of the Yoruba and/or Ijaws vote against the continuous membership of their respective ethnic groups in Nigeria, that automatically means that they are free to form their own respective sovereign countries, or go into negotiations with other (smaller) neighbouring ethnic groups to form a bigger sovereign country. The same principle should apply to other ethnic groups.

But, if an ethnic group in the south votes in favour of remaining a slave to the north and in support of the ‘Monkey dey work, baboon dey chop’ economic relationship, then such an ethnic group or groups will have to attend a SNC with the Hausas and Fulani in Abuja or wherever they consider fit and work out for themselves an acceptable constitution, federalism or whatever for themselves – obviously without the Yoruba, Ndigbos and Ijaws.

The other SNC among the Yoruba, Ndigbos, Ijaws and other ethnic groups in the South that have voted against their continuous slavery in One Nigeria, will focus mainly on defining the respective border lines among them without any conflicts.

Since marriage, in any civilized, and not primitive society, is not done by force or against the will of the bride groom, likewise, One Nigeria should be voluntary, and not b y force. The respective ethnic groups in Nigeria should be given the opportunity to decide whom they want to have as their bed fellows. This is what the rule of law too is all about.

So, I repeat again, the 3rd tactics the Niger Delta militants should adopt is to TURN DOWN ALL offers or proposals – no matter how attractive – from the north or Yaradua’s government, and DEMAND for a REFERENDUM! The N.D. militants must not allow the north to use their own resources; which should belong to them alone in the first place, to bribe them.

By taking such a position, the militants will be killing 2 big birds with one stone. First, it’s a litmus test to test the sincerity and commitment of the north to resolving the crisis. Secondly, by so doing, they will be putting a lot of pressure on Yaradua and the north as a whole.

Most importantly, the militants need to remember that the longer the crisis in the Niger Delta lasts, the worst off the north, Britain, the United States and the multinationals will be. At this stage of the conflict, they, and not the indigenes, have everything to loose. The crisis in the region is costing Nigeria millions of dollars in lost revenues every day. The more the economic looses of Nigeria, the more pressure will be on her to reach agreement with the militants ‘on their own terms.’ Thus, time is on the side of the militants. This is a tactical weapon that they must exploit to the maximum. The new packages of proposals from the north to the militants go a long way to prove that the north is already panicking, though they try as much as possible to portray a different impression. All the militants need to do now is to remain united, cool and step up their militant activities. In the next 6-9 months the north will go hysterical and start begging.

Another advantage of this tactics is that there is a good probability that Britain, the United States and the multinational oil companies might persuade or put pressure on Yaradua to organize a national referendum to overcome the impasse in the region not out of love for the Niger Deltans, but in order to minimize their lost and save their investments in the region. When the Niger Delta reaches a ‘critical stage’ without any breakthrough, there is the probability that Britain, the United States and the multinational oil companies might come to a bitter but inevitable conclusion that the only feasible way of saving their investments in the region is to abandon the north and pitch their tents with the militants. The crisis is about to get to that stage very soon.

TO BE CONTINUED

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