MEND, Rebels With a Cause or A Crime Gang?

by Paul I. Adujie

Nigerians are killing Nigerians! This is the worst news. It is quite a nightmare.

Nothing good can possibly emanate from anything which leads Nigerians to kill other Nigerians. nothing! We must ask ourselves the question, how did we get here? And there are not clear-cut or precise answers. Is any war just? Could any act of violence, kidnapping and ransom taking be justified?

Is MEND benefiting any public good? Has MEND benefited any Niger Deltan, except MEND itself? Is the Nigerian government wrong in its all out war against MEND? What is a responsible government to do to stem the increasing pace of MEND’s violence, destruction of properties and kidnapping and endless ransom demands?

MEND is not known to have engaged in any public good. MEND is not known to have invested its “profits” from hostage taking and kidnapping and ransom demands to any public advantage for anyone in the Niger Delta. MEND appears simply self-interested and self-absorbed political renegades. MEND does not run any schools, hospitals or medical clinics. MEND has no after school programs, or day care. MEND, simply put, is guilty of the same offences of neglect, which MEND accuses the Nigerian government.

As the military confrontation escalates, it is hoped that the military actions directed at MEND are not indiscriminate, but rather as surgical and precise as possible and solely directed against MEND, but, without leading to unnecessary death and displacements of innocent Nigerian citizens of the Niger Delta.

Even the worst critics of HAMAS and Hezbollah, are always quick to say, that HAMAS and Hezbollah are more proactive, effective and efficient with the provisions of social amenities for Palestinians; In other words, Hamas and Hezbollah, have managed over the years to have some redeeming value, in the eyes of Palestinians, and even critics of Hamas and Hezbollah, and this is because, Hamas and Hezbollah are more efficient, effective in public service delivery to the citizenry, when compared to the government, official organ of the people… this led to electoral victories for Hamas in recent years.

The federal government of Nigeria and state governments in the Niger Delta, have for several decades, neglected their core functions in all parts of Nigeria. And in all this, Niger Delta sticks out as the sore thumb. Niger Delta has for so long provided the revenues for Nigeria’s survival and efforts at development, while suffering environmental pollution and degradation, consequences of producing Nigeria’s wealth.

It can be argued that the Nigerian government have made substantial progress during the last ten years, in addressing developmental issues, albeit, not much has changed regarding gas flaring, oil spillage and other matters of environmental ruinations emanating from oil exploration and prospecting. Some progress have been made, at least, in comparative sense. There is also a considerable shift in national public attitude regarding the plights and predicaments of our brothers and sisters in the Niger Delta.

Despite this progress, or baby steps, if you like, the spate of kidnapping, hostage taking, ransom demands and destructions of pipelines have increased a million-fold! What is a responsible government to do? What would any responsible government do? Abdicate its duty of peace and security? Allow MEND to continue unabated in its destruction of public assets? MEND have created a war atmosphere in the Niger Delta and this has gone on for much too long. What would you do in the face of these circumstances? I use to think of MEND as a necessary evil, until MEND resort to an all out violent methods in its agitations.

Any agitation which leads to kidnappings, hostage taking, and death of Nigerians and foreign nationals in Nigeria, cannot be justified. It is simply unacceptable. This is part of how we got where we are now.

Nigerians and the world are familiar with the issues at stake. We are all aware also of all the environmental impact, pollution and spillage of fish ponds, farm lands and communities that are ruined in the process oil prospecting and exploration. It is public knowledge, that there have been unbridled destruction of natural habitats for various species, some which are going extinct. Niger Delta communities have been deserving of adequate compensation from time immemorial, it amounts to preaching to the converted to re-state the worthiness of the cause of proponents of derivation; The agitation and advocacy for schools, hospitals, roads, employment and other social amenities are all in order to say the least. Particularly so, in the face of correlation between Nigeria’s national income and the Niger Delta

However, all of us Nigerians should learn not to take absolute positions on national issues, including derivation; Life is not comprised of graph of straight lines, there are always multiple variables, such that, sometimes, life goes in spirals and meanders; and change is a constant in life, change will come and if we bear this axiom in mind, perhaps Nigerians will then, and should ask, what will happen if geologists find plutonium and uranium and some other precious metals/minerals in my hometown tomorrow? Now, assuming that my state has no oil, and so my hometown is neglected, in the present scheme of things, will I not be vengeful and spiteful with my new found plutonium/uranium/precious metals/minerals wealth when it is discovered in my hometown? Nigerians should therefore eschew winner takes all arguments.

The facts of Nigeria’s past are that, we have had all sorts of pyramids, first, there was Groundnut/Peanuts in the North and Cocoa pyramids, Coffee pyramids in the South West and Midwest and then the Coal and Cashew pyramids in the East, Rubber pyramids in the South East and now the current mother of all resources, the black-gold a k a petroleum oil and its derivatives in the Niger Delta.

In the past and presently, these Nigerian resources were and are, national income earners at one time or another, have been derived from different regions and different states or ethnic grouping locations and in all of these, there has been inequities in distribution and sharing of resources ala unfairness to the chicken that lays the golden eggs

Nigerians should be magnanimous and be their brothers’ keepers or fellow citizens’ keepers in the circumstances, we should not seek to operate like he biblical prodigal son, products fall out of favor, out of fashion, prices fall and more, new technologies emerge. Nigerians should behave like the profound Christians and profound Moslems as everyone often claim.

If Nigeria disintegrates, you will need an import license and visa for the privilege of paying more for cattle from Jigawa and Adamawaa or Cross Rivers and hence the slippery slope argument, everyone will demand more for their products, I charge more Naira for my cattle, you charge more for your oil, Niger Delta deserve adequate compensation for national wealth derived from the
soil in the geographic part of ‘the whole’ which Niger Delta is sub-sect of, meaning Nigeria.

So now, why don’t we have equitable distribution with particular deference to the oil producing states but without minimizing or compromising Nigeria’s national interests which requires all Nigerians to be willing to sacrifice to protect the states that do not currently produce Oil as in the Niger Delta, or produce Cattle as in Obudu, Yola and Damaturu, Groundnut/Peanuts as in Gboko and Kano, Rubber as in Edo, Cocoa as in Okitipupa, Plutonium in Bauchi or Uranium as in Langtang and Diamond as in Jos or Safire and Rubies from Abagana or Umuazare?

Let suppose for a moment that some new sort of resources becomes Nigeria’s new major
Export or foreign exchange earner or new energy source that relegates oil? This is quite likely and very possible; What if the new resources and products are not what we now know? Produced from different region or states? Nigerians should always look at the big picture wh

ich serves the common good, the greatest good for all Nigerians. Myopia and parochial views has not served not served Nigeria well.

In the United States, a special tax or levy is imposed on citizens, so that those American who live in rural areas are provided affordable telephone service, that means, those of us who are residents of major cities in America, subsidized the telephone services of our American brethrens in the rural areas! Otherwise, connecting them with telephone service will not be cost effective or economical for the telephone companies to obtain a fair market price or to make profit, phone service will be so expensive in rural America and rural dwellers could not afford telephone service without the subsidies from us city dwellers! Most rural dweller in America are poor.

Lets look out for each other’s interests in Nigeria. Some of these resources mentioned above and others mentioned above, are all present in Nigeria and are many more likely, there are infinite possibilities for all. Why can’t we get along, We should get along, some people have even said that Nigeria is holding the black race back, Nigeria success it is said, is Africa’s and the black race’s success, Nigerians should focus on what is positively beneficial to Nigeria.

Where are the Nigerians who are superbly enthusiastic about Nigeria? Whose infinitude of patriotism is beyond reproach, whose luminosity of vision is precise and clear, whose sense of appreciating national interest is immense, and unblemished and spotless,

Where are the Nigerians whose love for Nigeria we dare not question, where are the Nigerians whose commitment and passions and dedication are steadfast and unflinching and unwavering in the pursuit of Nigeria’s national interests?

I am for one Nigeria, united, greater, better and more prosperous and occupying our pride of place in the world!

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