The Niger Delta Situation: Partially Appealing, Properly Appalling!

by L.Chinedu Arizona-Ogwu

No person is advantaged to war and crises, it goes for nothing than garnering towards one thing; that all brutal situations would come to an end; unanimously or conditionally but with underlined targets, properly or partially achieved. I am not supposedly chiding the agitators nor rebuking those in governance, but wading to solicit for justice purposely for the poverty ridden Nigerians in the Niger Delta swamp zones. You can see that the people were not joking and are not kidding when they complain about their social welfare. That the successive military government turned down the request, how about the civilian regime.

For all these, I understood that people prove rebellious to force their opposition to reason along with them and compromise for solutions to whatsoever they yarn for. But such intent ought to be for general and social well being that could be aligned with the Nigerian Constitution wholly or partially. I do not understand the confusion in it. With what is happening in this region today, one would not fail to ask questions. “What do they want?” An idiot may ask such but natural law may give an answer! Some miscreant appeared to collect bribe to make the situation more miserable, the region ungovernable and the environment unfriendly. These people could be digging their own grave.

My late father told me in his lifetime- “whatsoever fell into the river is searched, only by wading foot”. It could be a yardstick for those who yarn for the welfare of the people of the Niger Delta.

It is no longer news that those who were born by the ancestors of this region were not only marginalized but also overlooked. The region has been neglected for so long; exceedingly exploited and wealth-drained. I am of the opinionate that the people that govern us should realize that we are aware that “everything to ameliorate the situation is here”, I mean here in the Niger Delta. All they needed is just the assent of the constitutional government, -to be liberated, cared for and given sense of belonging. So long they have endured for more than half a century now.

By the instance, it could be reckoned that the Niger Delta issue has lingered over a long time dating from the time of Mr. Isaac Adaka Boro to the present militancy era. It appeared as if nobody wants to proffer solution, yet crude oil gushes day by day from the area. Does it mean these barrels were rejected, discharged and thrown into the waste-pit? Is it not sold? Where is the accruing revenue? Why can’t we equate this oil revenue to the Niger Delta demands?

It is no longer secret that the sooth-acclaimed Niger Delta Development Commission is a silo that stores batches of money now meant to appease individuals with political grudges in-wait for compensation in detriment of its official assignment to sedate the whole region that boils with irrational agitations. I am painfully discomforted with this recent development.

To curb this incoherent, this administration revoked the commissions “pay-bag”. It appeared that the already whacking mouth rushed to Aso Rock to ask why? The Authority simply replied,” the fund has expired”. To those who count their teeth with their tongue, it is a sign that the presidency is no longer comfortable with the commission’s nefarious dealings. I mean their extra-official backhands.

If the NDDC is working, then why is the region still complaining? To my own suggestion, NDDC should merge with a section of the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation, NNPC, if not one of its subsidiary, just to be serious, up and doing. Anything less, the crooked politicians will still find themselves well positioned inside this commission and loot the public funds dry.

I don’t blame them! That this crooked politicians inside NDDC loot and go free; they feel there is no right thinking persons outside they themselves. When this administration mentioned the commissions fund expiration, they went back to their bookshelves, brought ruffled and outdated document dewormed to defend their claims, as if they were previously working. We are conversant with this trick! I don’t believe any regime could tolerate this child-play other than ex-president Olusegun Obasanjo. He was the one appointing the commission’s management whereas the organization supposed to go polling.

As a fragile organization, the NDDC charged with the duty of revitalizing the region’s situation, ought to encompass and imbibe elective positions not appointment. Contracts awarding ought to remain balanced and neutral, but for the corrupt mindset of the people charged with the affairs of this commission. Corruption is prioritized! Shame!!

Nobody was emboldened to challenge this neglect even with the locally-ran NDDC, until the situation got unbearable. It wasn’t quite long Asari Mujiheed Dokubo and his group revolted. Just like the battle of supremacy between him and Ateke Tom. The Obasanjo government called a round table, the south-south governors again chipped in false and fictitious causes and solutions, just to cheat themselves the further, thinking they are cheating the federal government. They collected the entitlement and go, the situation ceased and again erupted times two. They were chided, but instead of contributing and proffering solutions, they went to buy the mind of these youths making trouble. Billions of naira from that regime; that could be used to enliven the situation was pumped into arms dealing, just to make trouble and show powers. Not even to appease the masses but for selfish purposes. Should the government shrink, should they back off, the boys engaged into kidnapping to ascertain their selfish desire in disguise, as if some among them were fighting to liberate the poverty-ridden region?

The boys became militants. Most of them dedicate themselves working two-fold; 10% for the regions well being and 80% for the politicians who see nothing good in the region’s development need. That those regimes ended their tenure, the miscreant among the freedom fighters in the Niger Delta set up kidnapping agenda to keep themselves going. My question is- why has this quest taken long to yield fruit? The answer is simple; no unity of purpose in that agitation. Within the “freedom fighters”, there are rivals, and again within the so-called Ijaw leaders, there are factions. A section demanding goat, the other is demanding frog, whereas the youths were demanding for their future. Why?

President Umaru Yar’Adua is a listening leader but it appears as if the people are complicating the matters. I support the withdrawal of the military presence in this region, but not to its totality. Since the situation grafts incriminations. Though it appears obvious that the region needs front Masterplan for kick off, heartless people still make profit out of the plight of the Niger Delta people. These people should be rebuked and evicted before it gets out of hand; not by gun and cutlass, but through unanimous resolution. These heartless people are distracters. They are taking advantage of this negation; taking back and delaying the solutions at sight. If this regime should say; there is no solution to the plight of the people of Niger Delta, we could source for solution to this sickness inside out, but the solution-tilt is swinging towards the people who are problems themselves; they were with other ethnic government society but failed to link and hook the solution chain. They were some of us used to ridicule us. What a shame?

Look at the oil which gives our economy her beauty, book the solution which would make the oil-bearing region friendly with all of us and hook up that environment to a healthy and social well-being, Nigeria would go places. If the excess crude oil money they share, looted and took yesteryears to foreign banks were used on keeping Niger Delta life-worthy, the situation would have been tranquilized by now. See the landmass previously fertile but now barren for oil-spills. The aquatics now suffocates from oil spilling on the waters, the birds now become choke with effluent of gas chimneys. Everyday the gas is flared. The flora shed green leaves as if the mangrove is desertified, I mean you can’t withstand the heat. To flare gases is completely an economic sabotage. Natural gas that is as precious as gold everywhere in the world is wasted here. What wickedness? To cause discomfort and to risk the life of those who live by the flare sight. The natural gas alone can give the Niger Delta more than what she is looking for from this government, but the leaders turn blindfolded, as they were ignorant. This shows that our leaders are as blind as the earth crust that hides the crude oil. They run blind and shared excess crude oil money supposedly used to build more natural gas plants and oil refineries to ease our sufferings. They run blind and failed to manage our oil revenues well as the Arabs do. They run blind and see nothing good in investing sincerely, in the people of the oil producing areas. They run blind and see no fault in picking wrong people to manage our oil revenue.

This blindness, if left to tarry, may cause us the looming vision 2020 not to talk of the Millennium Development Goals (MDG). Just because at all we are not prepared, it looks as if nobody should again remorse. The government is known for looting whereas those who are charged with whistle-blowing are known for looking. Tell me, who will save us?

Constitutional conference failed to address this issue, political panels failed, zonal and state government again failed us. Then who, I mean who will set the pace? Our problem is not natural; somebody has to set the wheel rolling. Simple! If not, something could be telling me that something is wrong somewhere. Someone has to right himself; and such has to start from the head. I mean the head of the Niger Delta leadership and Royal Fathers, including the governors apart from the Federal government.

The south-south governors should be summoned if not those of the southeast plus Ondo State that form parts of the oil producing regions in question. The Niger Delta should not rely on the NDDC alone and again. If I may opine, there should be centrally located and managed Niger Delta Relief Fund (as if I am proposing) but abbreviated NDRF. Such a fund will not craw like the police equipment fund, and will not hop like the aviation intervention fund, but will not leap like the petroleum trust development fund or never be allowed to go through the Ministry of Health corridor, but should be accrued, harnessed, managed, supported and growing under prudent management to effect positive and lively changes on this long tortured but contributing region of this nation.

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