Abi na Avengers dem dey call una?
How many ears you get?
Wetin you dey take the ears do?
Listen to me very carefully as I talk some sense into you.
I hear the Federal government has been meeting with your representatives in an effort to negotiate the cessation of your attacks on its oil pipelines. In case you didn’t know, these attacks have significantly reduced Nigeria’s oil output and therefore income by, according to one account, more than half of what it should be. This is compounded by the drastic fall in the global price of oil. Not only have you hurt Nigeria’s capacity to earn more money (indirectly cheating even your own people of what could have accrued to them in Federal allocation were Nigeria to have earned that money – a case of cutting off your nose to spite your face), you have also caused Nigeria more money and time spent in repairing the pipelines and oil wells that you damaged. Furthermore, you have made worse the environmental pollution that the world at large is trying to clean, and that President Buhari had just re-committed Nigeria into doing to alleviate the ecological disaster plaguing the Niger-Delta. Above all, your attacks have brought disrepute to Nigeria, made us the laughing stock of the world as a people interminably in turmoil, and in whom the world should not repose any confidence when looking for business partners.
I notice that you are basking in the faux self-worth of being courted yet again by another Nigerian government after a successful blackmail of the Yar’Adua/Jonathan governments. You are probably thinking that at the end of these negotiations, you will walk away with another set of Amnesty program whereby you would be begged to drop your weapons and be paid a huge stipend for stopping the sabotage of Nigeria. You are probably angling for huge contracts to help guard the pipelines from yourselves.
Hahahaha…You have caused me to laugh out loud in my Ibadan dialect. Let me tell you one secret: When Buhari authorized his officials to meet with your representatives, it was his way of showing to the world that he is no more a dictator. You read Buhari wrong at your own peril, my friends. By now, it must have occurred to you that this Federal government is not going to cede an inch of Nigeria to you or anybody. It didn’t cede it to Boko Haram. It won’t cede it to you. Buhari is talking to you right now so that when he unleashes the full might of the Nigerian military on you, he can tell the international community that he offered you an opportunity to stop what you were doing. He can ask the leaders of any country who has a problem with strafing your communities with helicopter and aircraft fires if they would allow their countries’ infrastructure to be so routinely destroyed by a bunch of hoodlums under the guise of freedom fighters. Would the United States, for instance, tolerate a Texas militia targeting its oil infrastructure at will?
I have not been in your area since 1987-88, but I have heard about how terrible things are down there. I have also seen pictures of polluted bodies of water, dead swamps, dead farms, dead fishes, terrible roads (or lack thereof) and just general neglect. I have also heard about the prevailing abject poverty in which most of you live. These, in fairness to you, are good reasons for you (or any community for that matter) to agitate for a better deal. And these were, in part, the reasons why successive governments, to varying degrees, catered to your interests by doing more for your area than they did for areas not producing oil and not ravaged by the scourge of pollution.
All of you…the States down there…(let’s name and shame you: Akwa Ibom, Bayelsa, Rivers, Cross River, Delta, Imo, Edo, Abia and Ondo…yes…Ondo) are beneficiaries of 13% oil derivation which, in the 15 years leading to 2014 alone, earned you a whopping N4.19 trillion. This did not include the billions each of you received as statutory monthly allocations from the Federation account in that same period. And it did not include the billions spent by oil companies on contracts to your people for cleaning oil spills, protecting their oil rigs and protecting their employees from assassination and kidnapping. This did not also include the Federal government’s gesture of creating a Ministry of Niger-Delta to more directly address your issues and peopled it with mostly Niger-Deltans to placate and appease you, and to assuage your cries of marginalization. The Federal government even created a Niger-Delta Development Corporation (NDDC) just so it could more directly kiss your asses. Yet, your region is still one of the worst in Nigeria in terms of everything…infrastructure, agriculture, crime, education, non-oil employment opportunities, etc. And some of your Governors owe multiple months salaries to civil servants!
While the rest of Nigeria held “pity parties” for you, you guys partied away with the largest denominations of all kinds of currencies. Rather than spend the “excess” funds you were receiving on developing your communities, you were frittering them away on booze and babes. Some of your most despicable leaders, like Asari Dokubo, did not even love you enough to invest what they stole in your communities. They built private universities in Benin Republic and bought lavish mansions in the London, Dubai and Washington DC. Some of them pulverized your communities in such ruthless manners that eviscerated whatever scintilla of dignity left in you. Yet you worshipped them and are still worshipping them.
In Cross River, for example, you had Donald Duke and Liyel Imoke for four years each. Then you reelected them both for another four years. In Bayelsa, you had Diepreye Alamieyseigha for four years and reelected him for another four before he was impeached two years into his second term. He was then succeeded by Timipre Sylva – after the Goodluck Jonathan two-year interregnum – and he spent eight years as Governor! In Akwa Ibom, you loved Victor Attah for good eight years and you extended that love to Godswill Akpabio for another eight years. And finally, in Rivers, you also allowed Rotimi Amaechi to rule you for eight years. These were Governors…your fellow Niger-Deltans…who collected humongous amounts of money from the Federation account and yet you do not have anything to show for it. Worse still, you do not, or cannot even ask them how they spent your money!
And before I forget, didn’t Olusegun Obasanjo suffer (and still suffers) the excoriation of the rest of us for facilitating the ascension to the presidency of one of your own…the most famous “ineffective buffoon” – Goodluck Jonathan? The dude governed Nigeria for five years, after being Vice President for two and didn’t do much for you…not even for Otuoke, his village. Yet you guys remain implacable and you want to keep blowing up oil pipelines? What more do you want? Secession? The last time somebody tried that in Nigeria, we know what happened to him. Go and find some books about wars, especially the ones about attempted secessions, and learn some real truths about who suffers the most and what gains accrue to those trying to secede from a country that refuses to let them go peacefully. If you can’t find a book, try googling it. Or better yet, look around your neighborhood for somebody 55 years-plus who can give you vivid descriptions of what happened in Biafra.
Those of you who have allowed yourselves to be hoodwinked into thinking your enemies are the rest of Nigeria and have encouraged “NONE-entities” like Tompolo (aka Government Ekpemupolo) and Boyloaf (aka Ebikabowei Victor-Ben) etc. to assume leadership of your communities while you sheepishly follow them down the path of perdition will have yourselves to blame. These glorified hoodlums are now armed to the teeth and, in your names – on your behalves – they have taken up arms against the Federal Republic of Nigeria.
Well, I am not one of those who will beg you to desist from this suicide mission. What will convince you is just around the corner. I am sure you remember a guy named Ken Saro-Wiwa…yes? Yes…that writer we all celebrate now as the face of the Ogoni liberation movement…the guy who succeeded in driving Shell out of that area for good. You remember him? Do you remember that he was hanged? I know that because Abacha was himself a villain and people like Wole Soyinka tried to save Saro-Wiwa’s life, we conveniently forget exactly why Saro-Wiwa was hanged. Let me remind you: He was accused of being part of a group that killed four Ogoni tribal leaders on the suspicion that they were in cahoots with the Federal government and/or the oil companies. There, indeed, were witnesses amongst your people who testified to Saro-Wiwa’s culpability! But this is not something we choose to remember. We choose to forget that MEND – Movement for the Emancipation of the Niger Delta – was a precursor to today’s Avengers. We choose to ignore the fact that those four folks killed (by whomever) had wives and children too.
But I digress.
All I want to say is that this “agidi faanu Yibo” that you have…your recalcitrant, stubborn, never-say-die-attitude-like-an-Ibo-made-fan belief that you must continue to blow things up in the hope that you can again successfully blackmail the President will come back to bite you in the ass big time. Don’t forget that this President will protect Nigeria at all costs. He is in the same league with Obasanjo. They are two members of the Nigerian Mafia who don’t believe the country for which they fought and almost gave their lives should disintegrate. And they will do everything in their power to protect the country. Do not mistake Buhari’s gentility for cowardice. Do not believe those who are telling you that because the Nigerian military is heavily engaged and committed in the northeast, it cannot wage a blistering war in the Niger-Delta. The Nigerian military can walk and talk at the same time. When Buhari starts with you like he started with Boko Haram, he will not HEAR any entreaties from anybody. Remember why he just came back from London? Ear problem.
So, if I were a Niger-Deltan and I have friends and family members engaging in this dangerous game of death, I will rein them back in quickly because, if your neighbor is eating a bad insect and you fail to warn him, the attendant incessant throat-clearing will not let you sleep through the night as well. In this battle of wits, one side is going to lose; and it is not going to be Nigeria. I promise you.