Nigeria Matters

How The Niger Deltans Can Get Their Freedom: The Action Plan! Part 8

“The fact that you made a blunder in the past does not mean that you should repeat it again.” – Lee Iaccoca.

“He only employs his passion who can make no use of his reason.” – Cicero.

“When Anglo-Saxons are enemies – it’s very bad. But when Anglo-Saxons are partners – it’s deadly dangerous!” – Anonymous.

“I am pretty sure that we will see the price of oil at $35 per barrel.” – Oleg Derispaski. Russian billionaire. November, 2008.

“Other people dream of travelling to outer space. I have always dreamed of crossing the *Prut.” – Grigore Vieru, **Moldovian poet.

* Prut is the name of the river that divides Moldova and Romania into two parts.
** Moldova was one of the former 15 republics that made up the former Soviet Union. Moldova was part of Romania till 1940 when it was annexed by the Soviet Union under a Nazi-Soviet pact, becoming the Socialist Republic of Moldova.

“In a bout, compromises and concessions are permissible, but only in one case: if it is for victory,” – Vladmir Putin. Russia’s former president. Currently, the Prime Minister.

“The plans of a military campaign could undergo changes indefinitely depending on circumstances, the talent of the war-lord, character of the troops and peculiarity of the country.” – Napoleon.

“Yar’Adua lacks basic ideas about where the country is heading, measured by his vacation at a time world leaders scramble to tackle the global economic recession. He either feels all is well with the economy – despite the daily fall in the value of the Naira and the plunge in oil price – or has no clue on what to do. People who were Governors and Ministers over 20 years ago, such as Rilwan Lukman and Ufot Ekaette, are now appointed new ministers. This shows the government is living in the past. We expected fresh hands, brilliant minds that are available in Nigeria, outside of the circle of many of those picked again to be Ministers. How can you appoint Ekaette as Niger Delta Minister? The government lacks the competence, the commitment, and the integrity needed.” – Festus Iyayi. Excerpt from interview. January, 2009.

“On the run to where? The number of gunboats and helicopters they claim to have acquired cannot match what the Americans used in attacking Vietnam and Somalia, yet they lost. Our intelligence within the military say this is a lie. So, we see this propaganda as a sign of desperation and frustration on the part of a humiliated military. MEND is not sentimental about the Independence Day because the nation is not yet free. Nigeria at 48 is stagnant because root issues have been swept under the carpet. We must address the issue of true federalism which is the only cure that will bring about a healthy nation where every region contributes its own natural and human resource to making a better nation.” – Excerpt of interview given by MEND’S spokesman. October 2008.

“We have it on good authority that the atrocious and inhuman detention conditions of Henry Okah have affected his hitherto good health adversely. Heavily and regularly blind-folded from unknown detention location to court in shaded vehicles at every court hearing day or when family, lawyers plead to see him, his sight has been badly impaired and damaged by the huge and high voltage halogen lamps rays, inimical to human sight set on him for 24hours in the solitary dungeon where he is kept. As a result of this partial blindness, he was unable to read the charges when asked by the Judge to plea, for the trial to commence, The Judge who was desperate to commence trial had to on his own enter a plead of not guilty for Henry, for which the lawyer had to demand evidence. It has been confirmed that it will be difficult for Henry Okah to survive except he is relieved of the atrocious, inhospitable, cruel and dangerous present detention conditions to which he is subjected He is also suffering from serious mental torture, loss of composure and memory…” – Excerpt of press release by the Human Rights Defenders Network (HURIDEN), led by Comrade Ayodele Akele. September 2008.

“Who should be begging the other for support? At whose instance was the meeting summoned? There is a suspicious power game here that can be immediately exposed. Whenever the political North gets into trouble, or needs to do a dirty job, or needs help, its strategy has always been to look for allies in the South, and contrive a situation in which its myth of superior importance is upheld. On the Niger Delta Question, it makes sense to create the impression that it is the Niger Delta that is crying out for help, and asking the North to support it. That January 8 meeting in Yenagoa between the conqueror and the conquered does not quite reflect the present balance of power politics between the South/South and the North or even, the Nigerian State.” – Reuben Abati. Excerpt of article titled “Nigeria’s Future and the Niger Delta” published in the Sunday Guardian, January 18, 2009.

“Insecurity in the Niger Delta threatens the confidence of investors and impacts heavily on the competitiveness of development projects in Nigeria. Against the backdrop of uncertain crude prices, it is essential that such sustainable solutions are progressed expeditiously, so as to preserve the viability of the sector in low price regime. The drop in crude prices and the long run prognosis posed some challenges to the economic viability of oil projects. Furthermore, the global credit crunch complicates funding of ongoing expansion projects with a potential impact on foreign direct investment in Nigeria.”
– Alhaji Mohammed Barkindo. Group Managing Director, Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation. Excerpt of speech at the opening of the 2009 Offshore West Africa Conference and Exhibition in Abuja. January 2009.

“The Russian State passed in a third reading and final reading a bill that spells out citizens’ rights to gain access to government document. The bill, comparable freedom of information laws in other countries obliges federal, regional and municipal officials to answer citizens’ requests for any information controlled by the government – such as court rulings, budget expenditures, construction projects, result of government permits and inspections, e.t.c. – that is not state secret within 30 days. The authors of the bill and transparency campaigners said the law could be a powerful tool for citizens in dealing with the country’s notoriously reticent bureaucracy and its firm grip on information that, by law, should be in the public domain. While various laws oblige officials to disclose information about the government’s activities to their employers – taxpayers – the bill attempts to spell out in a single law citizens’ right to know, as well as punishments for bureaucrats who refuse to co-operate. It will now be sent to the Federal Council for consideration. If approved, it will go to President Dmitry Medvedeev to be signed into law. The Law would come into effect in January 2010.” – News report in a Russian newspaper. January 22, 2009.

“1793 – 1893 were the darkest years in the history of Yorubaland. Two things, according to Professor Akin-jogbin, happened between 1816 and 1824, which irrevocably changed the history and fortunes of the Yorubaland. First, in 1816, the jihad, which had been raging in the Hausa Kingdoms since 1804 was extended to NUPE (Tapa) next door to Yorubaland and the newly converted Nupe lost no time in declaring war against the Akoko and Akoko-Edo in eastern Yorubaland. Second, Afonja in 1817 invited Alimi, the Muslim itinerant preacher to Ilorin. The Professor put the sequence of events as follows: ‘Afonja in 1817 invited Alimi, the Fulani itinerant Muslim preacher to Ilorin. Alimi was not new in Yorubaland, for from about 1813, he had been going round such northern Yoruba large towns as far as Ikoyi and Ogbomoso. He had lived for three years in Kuwo, Solagheru’s town, and was intending to settle there when Afonja heard of him and decided to invite him to Ilorin. He must therefore be presumed to have known Yorubaland fa

irly well and also to have been conversant with the on-going Fulani jihad. Afonja was not a Muslim and the invitation could have been conceived solely as a means of strengthening his military might with the charms that the Muslim preacher was expected to prepare. However, for Solagheru, who had earlier been invited by Afonja also from Kuwo and who might have known Alimi there, Alimi’s arrival could be seen as an important addition to his jama’a at Oke-Suna. There is indeed a distinct probability that Solagheru might have influenced Afonja’s invitation of Alimi to Ilorin, although the aim is not clear.A number of discerning citizens clearly saw the danger in the new scenario, but so afraid of Afonja were most of them that they did not dare to tell him. Two persons however took courage. The first was Fagbohun, the Commander of the left flank of Afonja’s army, who thereby incurred his wrath and had to flee to avoid being executed. The second person was Agborin, Afonja’s younger brother, but so confident was Afonja of his own ability that he again brushed the warning aside. Frustrated, Agborin committed suicide. After dan Fodio was proclaimed Commander of the Faithful he swore to the disinterestedness of his intentions, saying: ‘If I fight this battle that I may become greater than my fellow or that my son may become greater than his son, or that my slave may lord it over his slave, may the Kabbir (infidel) wipe us from the land. ‘There was no imperial army and no central bureaucracy. Islam was the cement. Alimi died about 1823. Afonja was Alimi’s benefactor but that did not stop Abdulsalam, Alimi’s successor, from overthrowing and usurping Afonja’s rights. According to Johnson’s History of the Yoruba, Abdulsalam became the ruler of Ilorin and heir of the whole of the Igbomina and what is now known as Oshun (Epo) area which Afonja had kept under his authority since 1797. Thus those who had led the rebellion, according to Professor Akinjoghin, finally lost the revolution. Abdulsalam sent for a jihadist’s flag from Sokoto which he served as Emir of Yoruba, under the Emirate of Gwandu and according to Johnson’s History, he then declared a Jihad against the whole of Yorubaland. Internal divisions have often opened the door to external manipulation. Such divisiveness dates at least to the demise of the old Oyo empire at the beginning of the nineteenth century. By the early nineteenth century, Oyo was facing pressure from the Fulanis in the north and from the Dahomey kingdom to the west (in modern-day Benin). Dahomey’s powerful slave-trading king, Gezo, fielded imposing armies led by thousands of female warriors. The power of the king of Oyo, the Alafin, collapsed when his army commander, Afonja, rebelled and captured the town of Ilorin with the support of the Fulanis pushing south on their Islamic jihad. Afonja’s revolt convinced Yoruba provincial kings to the south that they too could rebel. For the rest of the century Yoruba land was beset by nearly continuous civil conflict that degenerated into slave- raiding wars. For a good part of the nineteenth century Yorubas sold Yorubas into bondage. If they had united, they probably could have defeated the Fulanis and retaken Ilorin, but they opted to fight each other instead. The wars only came to an end when the British governor of the Lagos Protectorate, Sir Gilbert Carter, used a combination of diplomacy and military muscle to force a pan-Yoruba peace treaty. The legacy of those wars has continued until today…”‘

Chief Richard Akinjide, former Attorney-General of the Federation. Excerpts from a lecture delivered at the University of Ibadan’s Sultan Bello Hall Distinguished Lecture 2001.

THE DESCENDANTS OF USMAN DAN FODIO STILL DON’T GET IT!

As has already been pointed out on many occasions, the obvious and acceptable solution to the Niger Delta crisis is a CONVOCATION OF A SOVEREIGN NATIONAL CONFERENCE where all ethnic groups in the South will decide if they still want to remain in INTERNAL COLONIALISM set up by the north with the help of the British. Apart from MEND, led BY Jomo Gbomo, NDDVF led by Asari Dokubo, many prominent organisations like Afenifere, Ohaneze and highly respected Nigerians like the legal giant, Chief Gani Fawehinmi have all recommended to Yaradua a SNC as the only feasible solution to the crisis in the Niger Delta and political impasse in the country. Unfortunately, instead of yielding to this wise advice, Yaradua and the north have turned deaf ears to them and embarked on a unilateral journey that is only in favour of the north. As Far as Yaradua and his fellow descendants of Usman Dan Fodio are concerned, these people and organizations mean nothing to them.

Consequently, their opinions and recommendations are supposed to be taken with a pinch of salt too. What a brilliant way by Yaradua to prove that he is indeed a ruler that not only listens, but is equally a ‘servant-leader’ who listens and goes ahead to carry out the fair and rational request of his electorates.

The Niger delta crisis is another litmus test to prove beyond any doubts that Yaradua is not only a passive leader but is far from being the servant – leader he claims to be on attaining power. Passive listening is about just hearing what people want to tell you, but consequently going ahead to carry out your own personal and selfish decisions – in your own favour but to the detriment of the aggrieved. A real savant-leader does not limit himself to just listening physically to the wishes or/and grievances of his countrymen – whose votes brought him to power, but do whatever it takes in order to carry out their fair proposals. Perhaps, one can attribute Yaradua’s atttude to the fact that it was not the votes of Nigerians that brought him to Aso rock, but was imposed on us by criminals like Obasanjo, Babangida, Danjuma and others who have been terrorising Nigerians and held the country to ransom since 1960, when we naively thought that we have got our independence. Subsequently, Yaradua, does not in any way feel obliged to carry out our recommendations.

MINISTRY OF NIGER DELTA: INCOMPETENCE, MANIPULATION, CONTRADICTION AND FRAUD OF THE HIGHEST ORDER.

The proposal of a N.D. ministry, instead of a Confederation, for example, goes beyond any reasonable doubts to prove the hypocrisy and incompetence of Yaradua and his advisers who include multinational oil companies, Britain and the United States.

Apart from the serious shortcomings of the ministry which have been highlighted earlier, the proposal is equally full of contradictions and is nothing but fraud and manipulation. It’s a million of miles far away from the major demand of the militants and the indigenes of the N.D. which is ‘full’ resource control.

Technically speaking, the N.D. ministry is nothing but a continuation of the status quo, but in a stylish form. It’s like putting an old wine in a new bottle and giving it a new name.

For example, how does one explain the fact that the northern led federal government have levied about 104 criminal charges; which include terrorism, murder, gun-running, kidnapping, e.t.c. against Henry Okah, one of the leaders of the militant groups, MEND; have kept him in detention for almost 2 years without access neither to his lawyers nor adequate medical treatment, but at the same time, Ekaette, the minister of the N.D. ministry, a government official and Yaradua’s puppet has met with other militants in the creeks, who are Henry Okah’s subordinates or/and colleagues in arms, to seek for their inputs, advise, co-operation and support? Are we now to understand or infer then that only Henry Okah is a criminal/terrorist, and that those militants that Ekaette, a senior government official, has held meetings with are not terrorists, but angels?

As far as Yaradua and his Usman Dan Fodio brothers are concerned, there is nothing wrong or/and contradictory in Henry Okah cooling his ass in detention and being tortured by his Secret Service operatives, and Ekaette, his minister dining and wining with his [Okah’s] colleagues

in arms in the creeks. I am doubly sure that even a dumb and deaf southern Nigerian will notice this glaring contradiction.

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