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The Hydra- Headed Militancy And Niger Delta Avengers.

Bola Ige
Posted: Jun 20, 2016 at 2:00 am   /   by   /   comments (0)

 

By Willy Bozimo

The present volatility in terms of the resurgence of militancy in the oil producing Wetland in the Niger Delta is creating so much unease. Both economic and political upheavals in the beleaguered Niger Delta, where brand new A.K 47 wielding young men seemed too determined to carve a niche for themselves, have become prevalent.

There appears to be a yawning gulf with their forbears, who stormed the scene in 2009 as we saw familiar names like Asari Dokubo, Ateke Tom, holding sway in Okrika and Kalabari waters in Rivers State; while the Boy loafs dominated the Bayelsa waters and Government Ekpemupolo, alias ‘Tompolo’ the G.O.C of Movement for the Emancipation of Niger Delta   [MEND].

They may not have attended any military schools or trained in any Military formations in Nigeria, but they are gladly being addressed as ‘Generals’. When we see their facility with the way and manner they operate the weapons of selective destruction, which had moved from kidnapping of foreign oil workers to now being specific on blowing up of crude oil and gas pipelines, by the nascent group, the Niger Delta AVENGERS, it is apparent they are clear with what they in to do. The mission of the Avengers is essentially to torpedo the pipelines under-water, reduce the volume of crude that is   being piped into ocean going ships for export.

According to the Dr. IbeKachikwu, the Minister of State for Petroleum, the bombings had reduced Nigeria’s crude oil export by 800,000 barrels per day from about 2.2 million to about 1.4 million barrels per day.

In same vein, some critics of the Avengers and other mushroom militant groups aver that the effect of the pipeline vandalism would affect the people directly in terms of environmental degradation of the waters and the vegetation, declining oil revenues to their States and general poverty in the region and in Nigeria as a whole.

In a meeting with the Oil giants in Bayelsa State, Governor Seriake Dickson, has called for aconcerted effort by all to stem the upsurge in the indiscriminate bombing of pipeline  and described the militants as criminals and economic saboteurs.

In a similar vein, the Deputy Governor of Delta State, Barrister Kingsley Otuaro, who has been given marching orders by Governor Okowa to go on a peace mission to the Creeks, told newsmen in Warri Government House Annex after a 12 day tour of the creeks, consulting with traditional rulers, elders and youth groups and some ex- militants, oil companies and stakeholder, that there was no quick fix or immediate solution to the bombings.

The Deputy Governor averred that ‘The Advocacy Committee cannot in the present circumstances find a pathway that may lead to permanent solution as commissioned by his boss. There is need for stakeholders, oil companies and government at both State and Federal levels, to ensure greater development of the areas commensurate with what is being collected in terms of foreign exchange from these communities.

On the issue of military option by the Federal government, that option of invasion will not solve the bombings. The Deputy Governor agreed that the Communities were ready to partner with the Federal government under recognized platforms to end vandalism without being misconstrued.

One could understand the tricky situation under which Barrister Otuaro was asked to go to the creeks- his home-base and shake the Magician’s wand and decree ‘LET THERE BE PEACE’. It is a no win situation for him and his team of peace merchants, whose lives are also on the line if they tried to step out of line.

 

The problems militating against comprehensive and holistic development of the Niger Delta is beyond an interventionist agency like the NDDC or Ministry of Niger Delta.

While it might be tedious to create as many mini- States out of the Niger Delta Region, we have discovered that it is only Executive Governors of States who can bring about fast development to these riverine terrains.

Any Chief Executive that is weaned from the mangrove swamps can ever extend development to these terrains because they do not feel a sense of deprivation or sense of belonging to the perennial sufferings of the people of the Niger Delta.

If the swamps of the Niger Delta   are in capable hands, they could be better dredged and sand-filled to create motorable roads because the areas are too swampy and it would cost a fortune to so develop. A million dollar question is, does it not cost so much dollars to drill for crude and gas in these patently inhospitable environments?

The Avengers, whatever is their motivation, seemed driven by the belief that anything to help bail the minorities out of their helplessness by every successive government had been half- hearted because they are only interested in bleeding the environment of crude and only to abandon it after the place is scarred and done with. Iconoclastically, the Avengers seem to be saying ‘If you can’t improve our living conditions let us crash it all or bomb it all’.

It is possible for the Buhari Presidency to change the old ways of doing things and as long as there is this guarantee from Aso Rock Sheriff himself, I know the Avengers would pipe down and go to the round table for vital talks with Mr. President.

Beyond the Avengers, we  are suffering from a grave short fall of genuine Pan Niger Deltans we could entrust with petrol dollars to transform the Belt within the next ten years. The pilfering spirit of looting unlimited is largely to blame for the abandoned Niger Delta, development-wise.

It is criminal on the part of the multi- oil companies for not beneficiating the hostile environment they have been operating in for the past forty five years.

There should be systematic ban on the use of helicopters by Oil Giants and they should be compelled to construct highways   and bridges across the Niger Delta belt, build schools and universities, hospitals, airfields and dual carriage highways.

Let us allow the Oil majors to build the roads and bridges and link all the riverine communities to each other and deduct some of the royalties they would pay to the Federal and State governments.

That suggestion, one only hopes, would be supported by the Avengers and even the ‘Scavengers’ as some have derisively called the new militants.