Editor’s note: The government of President Muhammadu Buhari and Niger Delta militant groups reportedly reached agreement to a 30-day ceasefire. Abiodun Ladepo in this piece for Sahara Reporters explains why Nigeria won’t lose this fight against the militants.
I hear the Federal government has been meeting with your representatives in an effort to negotiate the cessation of your attacks on its oil pipelines. In case you didn’t know, these attacks have significantly reduced Nigeria’s oil output and therefore income by, according to one account, more than half of what it should be. This is compounded by the drastic fall in the global price of oil. Not only have you hurt Nigeria’s capacity to earn more money (indirectly cheating even your own people of what could have accrued to them in Federal allocation were Nigeria to have earned that money – a case of cutting off your nose to spite your face), you have also caused Nigeria more money and time spent in repairing the pipelines and oil wells that you damaged. Furthermore, you have made worse the environmental pollution that the world at large is trying to clean, and that President Buhari had just re-committed Nigeria into doing to alleviate the ecological disaster plaguing the Niger-Delta. Above all, your attacks have brought disrepute to Nigeria, made us the laughing stock of the world as a people interminably in turmoil, and in whom the world should not repose any confidence when looking for business partners.
I notice that you are basking in the faux self-worth of being courted yet again by another Nigerian government after a successful blackmail of the Yar’Adua/Jonathan governments. You are probably thinking that at the end of these negotiations, you will walk away with another set of Amnesty program whereby you would be begged to drop your weapons and be paid a huge stipend for stopping the sabotage of Nigeria. You are probably angling for huge contracts to help guard the pipelines from yourselves.
Hahahaha…You have caused me to laugh out loud in my Ibadan dialect. Let me tell you one secret: When Buhari authorized his officials to meet with your representatives; it was his way of showing to the world that he is no more a dictator. You read Buhari wrong at your own peril, my friends. By now, it must have occurred to you that this Federal government is not going to cede an inch of Nigeria to you or anybody. It didn’t cede it to Boko Haram. It won’t cede it to you. Buhari is talking to you right now so that when he unleashes the full might of the Nigerian military on you, he can tell the international community that he offered you an opportunity to stop what you were doing. He can ask the leaders of any country who has a problem with strafing your communities with helicopter and aircraft fires if they would allow their countries’ infrastructure to be so routinely destroyed by a bunch of hoodlums under the guise of freedom fighters. Would the United States, for instance, tolerate a Texas militia targeting its oil infrastructure at will?
I have not been in your area since 1987-88, but I have heard about how terrible things are down there. I have also seen pictures of polluted bodies of water, dead swamps, dead farms, dead fishes, terrible roads (or lack thereof) and just general neglect. I have also heard about the prevailing abject poverty in which most of you live. These, in fairness to you, are good reasons for you (or any community for that matter) to agitate for a better deal. And these were, in part, the reasons why successive governments, to varying degrees, catered to your interests by doing more for your area than they did for areas not producing oil and not ravaged by the scourge of pollution.
All of you…the states down there…(let’s name and shame you: Akwa Ibom, Bayelsa, Rivers, Cross River, Delta, Imo, Edo, Abia, and Ondo…yes…Ondo) are beneficiaries of 13% oil derivation which, in the 15 years leading to 2014 alone, earned you a whopping N4.19 trillion. This did not include the billions each of you received as statutory monthly allocations from the Federation account in that same period. And it did not include the billions spent by oil companies on contracts to your people for cleaning oil spills, protecting their oil rigs and protecting their employees from assassination and kidnapping. This did not also include the Federal government’s gesture of creating a Ministry of Niger Delta to more directly address your issues and peopled it with mostly Niger Deltans to placate and appease you, and to assuage your cries of marginalization. The Federal government even created a Niger-Delta Development Corporation (NDDC) just so it could more directly kiss your asses. Yet, your region is still one of the worst in Nigeria in terms of everything…infrastructure, agriculture, crime, education, non-oil employment opportunities, etc. And some of your Governors owe multiple months salaries of civil servants!
While the rest of Nigeria held “pity parties” for you, you guys partied away with the largest denominations of all kinds of currencies. Rather than spend the “excess” funds you were receiving on developing your communities, you were frittering them away on booze and babes. Some of your most despicable leaders, like Asari Dokubo, did not even love you enough to invest what they stole in your communities. They built private universities in Benin Republic and bought lavish mansions in the London, Dubai and Washington DC. Some of them pulverized your communities in such ruthless manners that eviscerated whatever scintilla of dignity left in you. Yet you worshiped them and are still worshipping them.
All I want to say is that this “agidi faanu Yibo” that you have…your recalcitrant, stubborn, never-say-die-attitude-like-an-Ibo-made-fan belief that you must continue to blow things up in the hope that you can again successfully blackmail the President will come back to bite you in the ass big time. Don’t forget that this President will protect Nigeria at all costs. He is in the same league with Obasanjo. They are two members of the Nigerian Mafia who don’t believe the country for which they fought and almost gave their lives should disintegrate. And they will do everything in their power to protect the country. Do not mistake Buhari’s gentility for cowardice. Do not believe those who are telling you that because the Nigerian military is heavily engaged and committed in the northeast, it cannot wage a blistering war in the Niger-Delta. The Nigerian military can walk and talk at the same time. When Buhari starts with you like he started with Boko Haram, he will not HEAR any entreaties from anybody. Remember why he just came back from London? Ear problem.
So, if I were a Niger-Deltan and I have friends and family members engaging in this dangerous game of death, I will rein them back in quickly because, if your neighbor is eating a bad insect and you fail to warn him, the attendant incessant throat-clearing will not let you sleep through the night as well. In this battle of wits, one side is going to lose; and it is not going to be Nigeria. I promise you.
The views expressed in this article are the author’s own and do not necessarily represent the editorial policy of Naij.com.
Your own opinion articles are welcome at email@example.com — drop an email telling us what you want to write about and why. More details in Naij.com’s step-by-step guide for guest contributors.