A Dialogue Concerning The Niger Delta | Independent Newspapers Limited
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A Dialogue Concerning The Niger Delta

Posted: Jun 8, 2016 at 2:00 am   /   by   /   comments (0)


By Sam Kargbo

In the case of the Niger Delta, oil may well be the fruit of knowledge, of good, and evil that God asked Adam not to eat. The Niger Delta was a peaceful land until oil was struck there in 1958. From that moment to this day, there has not been any uncontroversial issue concerning the region. As the following dialogue depicts, though we have all sinned and come short of the glory that God intended for us when he bestowed oil on the Niger Delta, common sense will urge stakeholders to do that which is necessary to bring peace and development to the region.

MrBriam(phoning from London): What’s this fire raging in your Niger Delta again?

Oghenero: Fire? What fire?

Briam: The fire ignited by your people, who are now masking under the name of the avengers, those characters bombing oil installations, threatening war against the Federal Government.

Oghenero: I’m surprised that you could jump into such a sensitive matter with such impudence. Niger Delta is a region comprising nations – large populations of people with different and differing characteristics, dispositions, views and what have you. That mindset that depicts the Niger Delta people as Avengers or militants is a product of bigotry. For the records, it is not my people, but the Niger Delta Avengers, who are a product of the greedy politics of oil and government’s neglect of the region.

Briam: I’d rather we talked about the greedy politics of oil, instead of the so-called government’s neglect of the region. As a former key player in the oil industry in Nigeria, I know a bit of what has gone into the Niger Delta Development Commission (NDDC), the Niger Delta Ministry, the Amnesty Programme, not to mention the 13% derivation of the revenue of the federation accruable to the states of the region. Of course, oil theft was also some kind of economy promoted for the region by former President Goodluck Jonathan. And I won’t mention the extortions that oil companies and operators in the oil sector suffer under the regime of your indolent, directionless youths, the irony of which is that the oil money is not only killing education in the region but entrenching a culture of unbridled violence, economic and drug dependency. You can’t tell me you don’t know that it is now a culture for your people to live on unearned income.

Oghenero: I can see that your mischief knows no bounds. Now I know who the real enemies of our country are, and where the problems of the Niger Delta are coming from. You so-called expatriates – who, in reality, are nothing but economic mercenaries – blind yourselves to the realities in the region, clinking to assumptions that suit your purpose. You go about laundering negative, infernally invidious views about a region that you undeservedly feed on. The entities and programmes you refer to are nothing but facades behind which the Federal Government hides away from tackling the real needs of the region. The ideas behind them may have been good, but their operations and implementations are terrible – hijacked by the elite, and the Federal Government is either deliberately looking away or lacks the political will to use them to develop the region. Yes, the political leadership in the region has been a big disappointment, but the Federal Government that has arrogated to itself the ownership of the oil in the region owes it a duty to put out itself entirely for the development of the region. It cannot leave the fate of the region to political rascals and expect peace at the centre.

The youths you referred to in your warped, unsubstantiated thesis are victims and products of the scramble for the oil money in the area. If the elite are getting rich without any visible means of livelihood, why would the impressionable young ones not believe that it is right for them to extort oil companies and operators in the oil sector in the region? Those of them who are emotionally insecure and cannot handle despair and frustration will easily indulge in drugs.

Also, I keep wondering why narratives and discussions concerning the Niger Delta are narrowed to the creeks in the region, and why people like you tend to forget that the political zone comprises six states with the highest and most impressive educational statistics in the country. I cannot think of a region in the country that can boast of a better population of educated, ambitious, focused and independent young men and women than the Niger Delta. Regarding peace, the region is as peaceful as the other regions in Nigeria. Your line of business might have exposed you to bad elements in the region, but it is still not an excuse for you to harbour such unfortunate views about the Niger Delta. You do not expect a man to live by the riverside and bath with his saliva.

Briam: Now that the militants are fast killing an ailing economy and threatening to launch missiles against aircraft and Federal Government buildings, don’t you think that a civil war is imminent?

Oghenero: For your information, the Avengers are a small group of agitators. When Boko Haram dared the Federation, its activities did not lead to a civil war. The Federal Government has been able to contain that insurgency. Agitations are a normal part of the Niger Delta, and they have never been known to degenerate to an unmanageable level. So, the idea of a civil war is farfetched. I believe common sense will prevail. The situation will surely give an impetus for further critical thoughts and dialogues concerning the region. As a parable goes, you will not allow a goat that you will carry on your head to gather mud. A government does not have enemies or harbour grudges. History is there to guide the government in handling the Avengers’ challenge. Politicians and other influential personalities in the Niger Delta must also wake up to the realisation that it is in their interest that the crisis in the region is nipped in the bud. You must also know that the Movement for the Emancipation of the Niger Delta (MEND) is available to balance the terror of the Avengers. MEND is already pointing fingers at the origins of the Avengers.