Tuesday, January 6, 2009

NIGER DELTA, Planet in Peril, INDEED!!

Well thanks to the Cable News network, (CNN) Nigeria once again made a major story on one of its special program, Planet in Peril. What is it this time? Well it’s the now world famous Niger Delta story, that’s what was on the news again.

Well this post is actually not about CNN and how it would rather show the ugly or troubled side of Nigeria to the world, and not try to balance those stories with all the Good or great things happening in Nigeria at the same time.

My issues here on this post, is this our so called Niger Delta issue, fight for freedom or what ever they call it, that is now rageing on in the region for some time, because to me I really don’t know anymore and can’t make sense of the whole thing.

If I had grown up in another part of Nigeria, well my ignorance can be excused, but I grew up in the Heart of the so called Niger Delta, and I come from within the region, born and raised up in Warri, Delta state Nigeria and having lived and worked in Port Harcourt for the last four years before leaving the country to return soon, I ought to know better about what the problem in the region is but the truth is that I don’t, and nobody really knows what the problem is, as obvious as it may seem, because if we all know, why are we not solving it?.

Just in case you are reading this and, think why is he saying this? Well here’s my reason.

CNN will make the average world viewers and even some Nigeria’s oblivious of the Niger Delta issue, think it looks like Hell out there in the region, and that Nigeria or the Niger Delta is just one big hole on the face of the planet, possibly another Sudan or Sierra Leone in the making. Well it’s not, at least not yet, the Niger delta is actually what we can call a very complicated case of Evil, done to a group of people or region.

First off, we have a Government, and by that I mean, the Nigerian Federal Government since independence from the British till the present day, that has been so insensitive, greedy, and corrupt and far from the reality of what is really going on in the Niger Delta.

Secondly we also have state Governments and Local Governments within the region that, sadly enough have toed the same line as the Federal Governments both during Military and Civilian regime.

Thirdly we have the major multinational oil companies, that have been the forefront investors that have spent Trillions of dollars and will go the length to protect and sustain its investment and business in the ground in the Niger delta,

Fourthly, MEND and all the other 1001 militant / criminal groups springing up everyday

Fifthly , many community leaders / youths within the region rather unfortunately acting as a catalyst to prolong the problem, and last but not the least, possibly me and you .

We all have created this MONSTER! That we see today, called the Niger Delta crisis.

However, my list above tries to be an encompassing one, I will make two exception, First the Federal Government of the day because it seems to have a good intent for the region, but they are saddle with over 40 years of neglect to deal with, lack of trust and to make matters worse the people within the region just cant wait anymore, so this young Government is left to deal with a monster that past Governments in the Military era and the Obasanjo government created.

Well CNN report got one thing right, the Niger Delta, is where the thirst for oil has created a deadly situation, the wealth created by the Black gold over the years has gone into pockets of some of the most wicked, greedy and corrupt people on the face of the earth, Presidents, Governors, Local government chairman, state and federal legislators, community leaders, certain foreigners, some of the elitists group etc, and has eventually created a problem with a hydra head.

I for one believe the wealth underneath the earth in the Niger Delta, is meant to be a blessing, for Nigeria. First for the people within the region that are feeling the direct effect of the exploration activities, and also for the common good of the entire Nigerian state, but sadly enough this is not and has never been the case.

The wealth is in the hands of a few, some of them in Government, others out of Government and these people are everywhere round the country, from up north, to down south, from the west and to the east.

They have profited from the oil wealth in government purse through their corrupt days in office or out of office, through political connections etc, these are the people that will do any thing for things to remain the way it has always been, and rather unfortunately we have a lot of these people either still in government at one level or the other, or they are godfathers behind the scene. These groups of people, are like wolfs in sheep’s clothing, they are like killer bees and will always be a part of Nigeria’s problem.

The so called military or is it militant group we see in the Delta, some are even groups that represent the interest of this same people mentioned above, because since the agitation in the region is growing, they now had to look for other means to continue to milk the wealth from the region, and one of such is to have or sponsor groups in the Region through this so called Niger Delta struggle, so that with the instability in the region they can profit, either through bunkering of oil, or for those in government securing heavy security vote from national and state budget that they can plunder, that’s why for me, the credibility of a whole lot of these groups within the Niger Delta that go by one name or the other, is questionable, most are just a masquerade.

The ones that are really up in arms for a genuine struggle are few, indeed if any.

The Situation in Port Harcourt, capital city of Rivers state in the last few years, tells you a story of how politicians helped in providing young men with guns to enable them rig elections, these young men becoming wise, kept the guns for themselves, and in some case split into factions because they too have had a taste of oil money, power and respect by the gun, and over time we now see, what we see in Port Harcourt and surrounding town and states, such as kidnappings , bank robbery, jail break, and the tussle for power by some of these gangs, that spilled into the street late 2007, and yet some of these same gangs, (YES!! Gangs), have the nerve to call themselves freedom fighters, fighting to free who? Definitely not I or the millions of Niger Deltan’s that so eagerly want to see a change in the region.

MEND, on the other hand, is still hard to place, they make strong statements and claims, sometimes blow up oil installations, and threaten the oil companies , but at the end of the day leaves everyone wondering, what do they really want ?, where do they want to take this fighting to ?, is it Henry Okah release they are fighting for or The Niger delta? because to me, I see nothing so far that is constructive about the fighting, yes we all agree that the Federal Government, and the Oil companies have for so long robbed the Niger Delta people and we just cant take it anymore, so that’s why they (MEND) fights.

What about the many state governors from within the region that have also looted state treasury while people in the region suffers, what about some of the so called elders that have parleyed with Government, and oil companies to become rich and influential, while its people and the region sufferers, and now are the ones calling themselves elder or leaders that want to mediate for peace, are these people not known as part of the problem in MEND books?

To Me, I feel If MEND must raise its profile as a true fighter, then its should not just be up in arms, and enjoy clips like the one shown on CNN where they call them “ One of the most Notorious or Violent militant in the world”, No! to me I think such report do more harm than Good to the cause of MEND, which if am correct is to liberate the Niger delta from years of poverty and neglect, then it should not let itself be called a Violent group on international TV, but more importantly they should tell the Niger Delta people and the world, want they want for the region and what they have achieved so far?.

So back to why I say the problem is complicated, you have groups within the region, some fighting each other, over who should be the Underground warlord e.g. Tom Ateke and George Sogboma mini war, we have some groups that are just ethnic fighting, e.g. Okrika- Eleme clashes, and the many other inter and intra ethic squabbles that comes up every now and then, amongst the hundreds of tribe within the oil rich producing region.

We have the Oil bunkering groups some of which are from the group mentioned above and in some of the text I will write below

we have the criminal group or some time petty thief’s that take advantage of the situation and kidnap, expatriates, or wealthy Nigerians and sometimes regrettably little children also.

We have groups like the well known Militants groups MEND fighting the government Military forces protecting oil installations.

There are
groups that are always on TV, especially private TV stations in Lagos state, talking about the problems in the Niger Delta and how they are going to fight to the end to liberate their people, e.g. Joseph Eva, Asari Dokubo etc, and yet you will hardly see them on local TV or radio stations in the Niger delta region, at least the private radio stations, if they will want to argue that we only have mainly state run TV in the Niger delta region. (Maybe the state run media is not allowed to broadcast them.)

We have the state Governors, most of whom were planted by their predecessors, so they really can’t investigate the past government as we have seen in the last one year plus , none so far has even accused the immediate past government of corruption, maybe an exception will be in Rivers state where the Governor came into office via a court verdict in his favor.

And last but not the least we, have the everyday individual and the millions of Niger delta people group, who just sit and watch all the various actors or groups mentioned above do the siphoning of cash to foreign accounts, the cat catch mouse scenario, finger pointing, blame catapulting, propaganda war, and the shelling, shooting, bombing, that go on in the creeks, or water ways of the Niger delta region.

All these brings me back to where I started, which is : Where do we go from here now that this problem has gotten this complicated and seems to be going from bad to worse? How can this problem be solved? how can the legitimate groups above be pacified and the criminal and evil one be clearly identified and totally alienated and flushed out, well its hard to tell, because sometimes, the boundaries within each of this groupings are not a clear cut one.

The CNN report is just meant to do one thing, and as Lisa Ling the CNN reporter said : To show that a source of crude that is vital to US economy, is being threatened, and with the pressure already in the US economy, if it should lose oil supply from Nigeria, with out argument that loss very well, you can just imagine what will happen, that’s just it

So it’s not like CNN really wanted to show this region to the world, so that world leaders or the UN will debate, or pressure the Nigeria government to act, in the most expeditious and bold manner to address the biggest issue facing it nationhood, but that Nigeria’s oil is not a dependable source for supply. However Lisa ling personal statement, on the news show, hit the point again, it is greed that’s at the bottom of all this suffering and trouble in the region

Despite the picture I have painted, I believe there’s hope for the region to change, to rise and to grow, the reason I believe this, is because of what we see today, it is bound to get worse, before it will get better, although it would have been better if everything had worked well from the start, when oil was first discovered at Oloibiri in 1956, well that didn’t happen, but we are at the turning point now, lets keep hope alive and keep praying.


LIL WOMAN said...

i grew up in warri and so i can really relate to what you are saying. Almost everyone plays a part in the Niger Delta crisis.Niger Delta needs change and an end to all the crisis but it is hard to tell how this change is going to be achieved. we need a re-brth, a re-programmng of the minds of our leaders and our fellow citizens.

Sele Akobo(curvyice) said...

@Lil woman,
I agree that we need a rebirth of the minds of our leaders and our fellow citizens, but i believe that we need to focus on the young( our generation that is) cos we would be in a better position to make changes. The leaders already have their Modus operandi which is corruptiona nd greed, we need something different form what obtains: Thats the change we are talking about.But i know for sure that the Niger Delta needs help.

Ogle said...

Wel said! @lil woman and Sele, the Niger delta needs severe changes and quick help, both divine and human.

tommeh said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
tommeh said...

We are Nigerians. That goes a long way to say there's no negation when it comes to whom to put the blame on.

We've been mulling over this issue for long. Some say change should start from the grass roots while others submit that it starts from our leaders.

"Hard to build; easy to destroy" is now a cliche. We know our problems and how to fix it. But NO.. Because of greed and selfishness, we've chosen to embrace negligence.

May God Help Us!


Niger Delta wahala...I a hoarse. But, we are all at fault.

God have mercy!