The other day, Chief Edwin Clerk who is regarded as Ijaw leader having also served as Minister for Information, advised General Muhammadu Buhari not to allow the amnesty programme instituted for the purpose of rehabilitating ex-militants in the Niger Delta to go on errand.
Just immediately this news filtered into the air, came another that Government Ekpemupolo, the former Commander of the Movement for the Emancipation of the Niger Delta (MEND), popularly known as Tompolo, has called-upon ex-militant leaders in the area to an emergency meeting.
What was wretched about the meeting was how the media presented Tompolo in its press briefing. In some quarters, we read that the meeting was being summoned because of Buhari. After reading that biased side of the news, one was compelled to address the issue, so that the group is not cited against Buhari.
While any form of unlawful approach to national issues is bad, one does not think that the MEND and its leaders do not have a right to convene a meeting given sections in the Constitution which allow for free gathering, as far as the intent is not to cause public disorder.
The Federal Government has always underestimated the importance of emergency planning to develop the South-East and South-South. The weakened-MEND’s intent could probably be in favour of Buhari government and should not be looked at through the periscope that the so-called ex-militants who are mainly from the Niger Delta, are planning against Buhari government.
Let someone say it loud that crude oil in the Niger Delta area is the way of life of Nigeria. Yet, successive Nigerian governments have not tolerated and dialogued with the many demands of the people. Look at the politics of UNEP Report in the polluted and devastated Ogoni-land.
The Nigerian state only has opportunities to double its revenues accruing from the Niger Delta, but not to triple-check the developmental needs of the people. The Nigerian government had not done conspicuous things to protect the people of South-East and South-South from the poverty it’s superintending and imposed on the two zones which are the eagles that lay the golden egg that Nigeria is greedy for.
If we think that terrorists have no concern for human life, what do we make of the Nigerian government that is only interested in the oil in the Niger Delta and not to develop the area? This is the terrorism the Niger Delta people are experiencing in the hand of the Nigerian state. The truth is that there are people who support the economic terrorism that the South-South and South-East are experiencing in Nigeria. The irony is that such people or groups think that they never got involved in terrorist attacks and are looking up to North-East. This is the big problem!
The economic attacks of the South-East and South-South christened national cake, is shaking the foundations of the zones biggest buildings. Someone is looking for terrorists in the North-East undermining what the national government is doing in the Niger Delta, yet, championing that the foundation of Nigeria cannot be uprooted.
The MEND’s resolve might not be to go back to the creeks again, but to address the economic sabotage the Niger Delta has been enduring under the Nigerian state since oil was found in the area in 1956. Who could believe that Buhari is seeking for loan to rebuild the so-called ravaged North-East by Hausa/Fulani/Kanuri Islamic terror merchants, but no one cared to rebuild Biafra land, (comprising Niger Delta) ravaged by the renegade Yakubu Gowon-led Nigeria.
Buhari is today talking about probe, but it will be the height of corruption to single out Dr. Goodluck Jonathan government for probe. Buhari should probe the 90% Niger Delta oil bloc that’s managed by the Hausa/Fulani/Kanuri people for over four decades now. Buhari has to also probe those who made this oil a national cake, without making their cows, groundnuts, farmlands national cake, either.
Singling out Jonathan government for probe, will also be an aberration of a saintly locus standi, since the probe is centred on the ‘missing oil money’. Like the goons called terrorists that do everything to get all of the planes down out of the sky, especially the one that collapsed the towers of the World Trade Center, the Nigerian government has unwittingly watched the collapse of the Niger Delta area through its economic terrorism in Niger Delta. Thousands of the people from this area are being killed as a result of the federal government’s economic sabotage of the area. The federal government has used isolation to break the South-East and South-South spirits.
The media should tell the world that MEND, perhaps, is in a meeting now to sustain Niger Delta for its own existence, so that the area will not be extirpated by the environmental degradation the federal government has caused it. The federal government might send troops of soldiers as it once deed against a people in a struggle for ‘Resource Control’ and call it military and diplomatic onslaught, but the federal government cannot stop the people from airing their minds on the predicaments they are suffering in Nigeria.
Odimegwu Onwumere is a Poet/Writer; he writes from Rivers State.