Niger/Delta Militancy or Criminality a Genuine Cause for Agitation?

by Faustinus Nwaorgu

When the word militancy is mentioned in the Nigerian context, the South-South zone readily comes to mind. It has become an ineluctable attribute associated with the oil rich region and has continued unabated. Even with the presence of the Joint Task Force (JTF), act of hostage taking, destruction of oil installations and oil bunkering are still going on in the Niger Delta.

One therefore begins to wonder if the aim, mission and vision of a genuine cause and agitation of a group are hinged on abduction of innocent foreign expatriates, domestic and native oil workers, children fathers and mothers of those in the corridors of power and the subsequent demand of outrageous ransom from the relatives of the victims. One is therefore compelled to ask is this criminality or genuine agitation for a cause. Your answer to the above question is as good as mine.

Social and political crusaders, activist, agitators as well as militants in the past have adopted mild and subtle methods to achieve their aspirations, needs and aims which are usually hinged on non-violence. True and sincere agitators of Niger-Delta cause should tap from past experience and records to accomplish their aims as arms struggle with the federal Government, hostage taking, destruction of pipeline installation and oil bunkering is not the way out of the present situation and will do our dear country no good but rather create in the minds of would-be investors and investors already in the country an atmosphere of instability, uncertainty and consequently scare investors away. In the same vein, it will result to shutting down of flow stations which will adversely cut down the supply of crude oil in the international market and thus reduce the money accruable to the federal government.

In addition, the kidnapping of workers of construction companies in the zone can only but delay the construction of infrastructural facilities as no company would like its workers to be kidnapped at random. In this case, the outcome would be the pulling out of such company from the construction site thus hampering the speedy completion of the development project in the Niger-Delta.

It is apparent that some faceless individuals, who are hell bent on causing a decline in the economic fortunes and psychological trauma to the people of this nation, have usurped the good cause of the Niger Delta people for selfish monetary interest. Therefore, the above mentioned people should be made to face the full wrath of the law if caught because their activities negate the true cause of the Niger-Delta people.

The Niger-Delta agitators want the implementation of the tenet of true federalism in the country to the letter and an exhaustive development of their area. If implemented, this will give them ample opportunity to control the resources in their area and pay tax to the federal Government. However, some have argue that if the South-South cannot justify the huge amount of money given to them as federal allocation to better the lot of their people it will be unwise to allow them to control their resources.

Accepted that Niger-Delta have not had a fair deal in the scheme of things in Nigeria, in terms of infrastructural development, just like the ones you see in Abuja, the Federal Capital Territory, their leaders should therefore justify the huge amount of monthly revenue allocation given to them by the federal Government by embarking on thorough development project that will turn around the fortunes of the Niger-Delta.

Recently, MEND expressed its readiness to renew its hostility on the downstream sector of the Nigerian oil industry following the continued detention and slump of Charles Okah recently. In a statement issued by Jomo Gbomo, the spokesman to MEND stated, “To avert avoidable loss of lives and properties, advance warning for immediate evacuation is hereby issued to residents in close proximity to depots storing petroleum products such as aviation fuel, diesel, kerosene, petrol, propane gas and engine oil.

We cannot guarantee the safety of staff that happens to be in the facility during an attack. We will also be targeting transport vehicles that convey petroleum products.
Anyone who chooses to ignore this warning does so at their own peril.”

MEND should look before it leaps because no single person, individual or group can fight a government and succeed without international support and acceptance.

Therefore, every Tom, Dick and Harry should embrace peace, dialogue, love, unity and cooperation because no meaningful development could be achieved in a state of chaos. This reminds me of the words of former Action Congress Governorship candidate in Rivers State Prince Tonye Princewill. According to him, “the only solution to the crisis lies with the convocation of an open, sincere and constructive dialogue. My advice will therefore be for all sides to pull back and focus on ways to create that atmosphere where we can engage in a genuine dialogue in a bottom up approach where representatives of the people are not decided in Abuja but on the brand of the grassroots community level.”

For those who are in the fore front for a better deal for the Niger-Delta, the should keep up with the just cause, hoping that one day their agitation would yield fruitful result and those who have debased the cause by employing criminality should stay clear because karma will surely catch up with them. A word is enough for the wise.

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