Friday, June 3, 2016

Buhari And The Niger Delta

By Ken Agala
On Thursday morning news broke that President Buhari had cancelled his trip to Ogoni due to threat to his life from the Niger Delta Avengers. This is a very wrong move as the President must have handed over the required impetus to the militants and thereby emboldened them.
Even Jonathan’s ‘chickening out’ of going to Chibok at the peak of the Boko Haram insurgency, is less of a ‘Chickening out’ than this. But I know a President can’t move against his security report and I wrote about this when Jonathan was called names for cancelling his Chibok trip.
While Nigerians were shocked to read a report that our oil production has gone down from the agonizing 1.4 million barrels to 1.1, a few days ago the Avengers bombed three more crude oil wells even when the military carried out an invasion of Gbaramatu kingdom and other Niger Delta communities.
With the Presidents action, the Niger Delta Avengers have received credible endorsement as a group to be respected and I believe many conscripts will begin looking for how to join them .
Frankly speaking it is despicable to be talking about cleaning up some Niger Delta communities while more environmental degradation is strategically perpetrated by Niger Deltans.
But there is a law called The Law of cause and effect. Every effect is the result of a cause and every cause must have an effect
When President Buhari in his brutally frank manner told his US audience last year that he can’t in all honesty treat regions that gave him 95% votes equally to those who gave him 5%, I expected that his party men from these 5% regions would have openly protested and forced him to withdraw the statement. That statement was very wrong from a President who has a mandate to treat everyone equally.
I expected Mr. Presidents media team to tactically twist that statement in way that it’d give some form of confidence to people from the 5% region but they rather coined the name ‘wailers’ for these 5 percenters .

When this National Assembly arrogantly defined the term ‘host community’ to mean all of Nigeria just because the PIB designed to give a 10% host community fund to communities which hosted oil exploration , that also was a cause and the effect is making people from the region feel that Jonathan’s electoral loss means a loss for the entire region .
Today there are strong rumors that the 10% host community fund has been finally deleted from the PIB.
When PMB cancelled pipeline protection contracts and threatened to crush Niger Delta militants like he crushed Boko Haram, the statement was provocative and not properly thought through. The best thing would have been to ignore them, while the security agencies work underground to unveil the perpetrators.
I’ve heard people say that corruption is fighting back and I agree with them to an extent . The seemingly lopsided war against corruption targeting Jonathan’s campaign funds only, while the APC campaign funds are not investigated is also a likely cause of the Avengers.
Frankly speaking the EFCC crackdown on Tompolo and the cancellation of his security contracts could also be on of the causes of this recent agitation. You can’t blow one pipeline in Delta Ijaw area without the subtle approval of Tompolo neither can you protect the pipelines from him if he wants to blow them.
The government should have gathered enough intelligence report before going after a suspect big as Tompolo, knowing the consequences.
The military can’t protect the pipelines so why did you cancel the contracts? What was the alternative? The action has caused us to lose almost 60% of our crude sales.
And any full scale military invasion will be like another Odi. Odi invasion was the fuel that the militancy fire needed a few years back and the then President was forced to eat the humble pie as he sat with militants and personally negotiated.
I was amongst those that didn’t support the amnesty initially because I think the package was structured to favor only the militants and left out the real victims of the militancy, but the government wanted to buy time so they can continue drilling oil and they actually succeeded with it.
But all these measures like Amnesty, NDDC, Niger Delta ministry, Niger Delta Presidency, 13% derivation and even the 10% host community fund are all like temporary bribes.
The best thing remains that this country is restructured to practice true federalism so that other regions can look inwards and remove this focus on oil.
Until we do that, Nigeria will continue to be blackmailed by a few strong men from the Niger Delta.
Only God will help us.

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