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Monday, 13 June 2016


Image source: www.oyibosonline.com

I have watched and followed with keen interest as the intrigues in the Niger Delta region continue to playout. Since the start of the 21st century, we’ve seen various gimmicks being employed by different groups, all in a bid to actualize one selfish interest or another. From Niger Delta Militants to Boko Haram to Niger Delta Avengers (I hope they have Captain Nigeria in their ranks). All three groups have one thing in common: they employed violence and the communities from which both groups evolved from had one thing in common: they all did nothing when they should have. They folded their arms till it was too late. To say I’m disappointed when I see our masses support these movements on social media would be an understatement. To say I’m surprised would be a lie though. Nigerians hardly learn from their past.

Violence, just like a forest fire, usually starts small. First, only one tree is on fire and then eventually, the fire spreads to the other trees and before you know it, the whole forest is on fire. This is the one mistake that has been common among the host communities of these various groups. They all failed to contain the outbreak and eventually they were consumed too. Their case was perfectly captured in a quote attributed to Martin Niemoller, a Protestant pastor and an outspoken public foe of Adolf Hitler during WW2:

 “First they came for the Socialists and I did not speak out because I was not a Socialist. Then they came for the Trade Unionists and I did not speak out because I was not a Trade Unionist. Then they came for the Jews and I did not speak out because I was not a Jew. Then they came for me and there was no one left to speak for me.”

They always start out like innocent groups, with the interests of the people as their major motivation but as time passes by, the same people for which they often claim to be fighting for, always end up being consumed by their wrath. Boko Haram for example, during the first two years of their operation, it was the churches that bore the scars of their fury. I’ve lost count of the number of churches that were attacked and the number of innocent lives that were lost. However, in subsequent years, every Nigerian became a target; Muslims and Christians alike.

In my personal opinion though, the region has been neglected over time by various administrations and hence they have every right to complain about this neglect but are the Avengers actually fighting for the uplift and development of their community or is it just a case of a group of individuals with personal and greedy interests hiding behind a genuine cry for help, to carry out illicit acts? Again, in my opinion, I most certainly believe it is the later. I remember vividly, the first set of Militants came with the same ‘Liberators of the Niger Delta’ tag but no sooner was amnesty announced, did their leaders begin to show their real agenda; Self Enrichment. As I’m writing this, Asari Dokubo (yes the noisy one), has several infrastructures in Benin but nothing in the Niger Delta region where he comes from. Tompolo is being investigated by the EFCC for none execution of a contract awarded to him by the previous administration. They all go about with security escorts and while the people for which they claimed to be fighting for, are still wallowing in poverty and reside in a heavily polluted environment.

I remember an incident that occurred during my Industrial Training. We had gone to survey a particular road way in a community in Nwaniba, Uyo. But we were fiercely resisted by residents of that community. One even went as far as saying that we were only going to survey the area over his dead body. This was just one of several cases. I have heard a lot more of such cases and it’s troubling to think that these same people would still come out in the future to complain about the underdevelopment of their communities. Just recently, my boss had told me how a project to link the Bonny Island to Rivers mainland via a bridge, was abandoned because the indigenes of the host communities demanded to be paid for any such project to be executed in their community. I can’t really ascertain the authenticity though but I won’t rule it out either. That’s just how ignorance and greed has continued to allow development to elude most of the communities in that region. I won’t rule out the various State governments and Federal governments from alleged complicity in this mess. If they have been doing the right things, there wouldn’t be any avenue for these glorified criminals to use as a cover up for their illegal activities.

On a final note, anybody who is in support of the violence, rather than dialogue, being employed by these Avengers, might want to have a rethink. It’s just a matter of time before they begin to point their weapons in the direction of their indigenes. There was a time the first set of militants used kidnapping expatriates as a means of making their plights known to the world. However, when most expatriates left the region, they started to kidnap the citizens in that region. The Avengers are blowing pipelines now but if they succeed in destroying all of it, do you really think they’ll lay low? Most certainly not. They’ll look for other avenues; it could be destruction of schools, government offices, kidnapping, the list is endless. The violence they perpetrate today may seem insignificant but tomorrow, it’ll definitely grow out of proportion and uncontrollable, if adequate measures are not taken. We should be careful of the things we support and wish for. Bad history shouldn’t repeat itself.

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