A concerned Nigerian has written to President Muhammadu Buhari on how the Niger Delta militancy crisis can be resolved amicably.
My dear President, permit me to speak to you directly through this open letter for many reasons. Some of those reasons include overzealous officials who prevent some good people with genuine advice from reaching you.
I am a basically in this class Sir. So addressing you through an open letter is not out of disrespect for your person and high office, but instead out of the exigency of “reaching you anyhow” because of the urgency this issue of the Niger Delta militancy presents. It will be only reasonable to commence this discussion by appreciating you for rescinding your earlier hard stance of total military confrontation against the Niger Delta militants, now known as Niger Delta Avengers, NDA, to a soften platform of negotiation or dialogue.
This action of yours Sir, is a sign of strength rather than weakness as some might see it. It is because you have chosen this approach that l am willing to advise you on the best way of reaching those that can make authentic negotiation and resolution of the crisis possible. Take note of one fact Sir: that since the issue of dialogue and negotiation have been presented by your person, voices of discord and discouragement have been raised more from your side of the divide – voices that are not complementary to your stand of peaceful negotiation.
For instance, your Vice President’s opinion on the approach to peace in the Niger Delta, through dialogue, is slightly different and if his opinion is to be adopted in approaching the challenge at hand, doom is most likely to be the outcome. Ditto those who advised you immediately you were sworn in as president to cancel the Maritime University at Okerenkoko in Delta State. Stoppage of the construction of what would have been the largest and best shipyard in Africa, stoppage of the Amnesty Programme based, unfortunately, on the advice of certain individuals, including some Niger Deltans, certainly will not be in our best interest. These people meant trouble for you at that time, and this you did not know, Mr President.
They paved your path to success with thorns and hazard – a trap you fell into when you made some policy statements contrary to the collective sensitivity of all those from the South-South geo-political zone. It was at this point that the battle line was drawn for the resurgence of militancy. This analysis also revealed the stupidity of a comment recently made by one of the leading opinion leaders from the North,who concluded that “the Avengers of the Niger Delta have nothing to avenge”. That conclusion could have only emanated from a shallow and perfidious mind of someone who lacked qualitative sense of history.
These boys, the Avengers, have much and everything to avenge. Yes, they have everything to avenge if pushed to the brink. Sir, you have done the best by your recent step of “talking and dialoguing” as that is the wisest way of avoiding collateral damage to the country’s economy, damage to the geographical zone and the ecology of the whole South-South [if military hostility ensured]and unexpected destruction to thehuman material of both sides of the conflicting entities. Sir, for the dialogue to be meaningful, l will advise you exercise extreme caution with regards to those invited to participate. Let me place it on record that present events in that region did not begin with the Avengers. The Avengers challenge is just another phase of a battle that started even before Nigeria came into existence in 1914.
You will recall thatMajor Temple, the Lieutenant Governor of the Northern Protectorate, suggested in 1912 “an autonomous six geopolitical structures for both Protectorates of the North and South”. His was a call for a fiscally federated arrangement to be anchored on resource control of the then suggested federating units, while same was expected to pay royalty tax to the anticipated government at the centre. The agitation, since that proposal of 1912, had not abated till date. Instead, it continued through the Harold Dappa Bariye’s 1959 formation of the Niger Delta Congress, to the Isaac Daka Boro’s declaration of a Republic which lasted for only 12 days before he was arrested, jailed and later released by General Yakubu Gowon into a war of uniting Nigeria. He died on May 6, 1968 in battle.
The same agitation was brought to the front-burner by Ken Saro-Wiwa, the Ogoni environmentalist. The late Head of State, General Sani Abacha and machinery of the Nigerian State murdered him on November 10, 1995. The Kaiama [the Izon home-town of Isaac Adaka Boro in Bayelsa State]declaration of 1998 became a more fundamental structure of the same struggle until the Union of Niger Delta [UND] issued its communiqué on 24, of March, 2000.
The struggle, by the formation of the UND, took the agitation beyond the Izon [erroneously called Ijaw]nationality enclave into encompassing the wider “geographical Niger Delta” region. I called it “geographical Niger Delta” because the nebulously packaged structurein the name of Niger Delta, by Olusegun Obasanjo, for the purpose of forming the Niger Delta Development Commission,which includes Abia, Imo and Ogun States, remains an abnormality to the original Niger Delta region as captured by the Nigerian Geographical Map.
However the point being made here is that there may be different names at different times like New Era Movement, Niger Delta Youths Movement, MEND or even Niger Delta Avengers, it is one War with various battles. It has the same Spirit, the same source of inspiration and the same ancestral backing force, and shall remain the same generational clarion call to duty. If you are willing Sir, I shall present to you simple but workable formants for the solution next and that is if you are genuinely willing to make enduring history in Nigeria.