Niger Delta Avengers And Politics of Amnesty, By Adedayo Osho

Whether or not a militant group called “Lagoon Avengers” might spring anytime soon owing to discovery of oil in Lagos remain debatable. Nothing political scientists predict about political dynamics goes unhappen, especially in third world societies. Dead like Claude Ake, semi-retired like Attahiru Jega or alive like Adebayo Adekanye, those who set precedence for comparative political analysis, contemporary African political theories and the study of African politics and political processes in Nigerian universities would never watch with glee the enormous social, economic and political malaise which currently bedevil the country.

Since we’d forecasted the likely resurgence of one-time Amnesty beneficiary militants in the obvious event their Ijaw hero, Ebele Jonathan got ousted via 2015 presidential election, one would expect newly power grabber to have been prepared in order to address the region’s plight headlong, extend hands of love {provision of sustainable social amenities} to his kinsmen and revisit that elite-centred amnesty programme. However commendable, the Ogoni UNEP policy recently considered {or processed} for implementation by the Buhari presidency is insufficient to justify non-avoidable of violence in Nigeria. In fact, my unscientific research reveal it only represented around 15% of the problems facing treasure base of the nation: Niger Delta. What are the ingredients and raison d’etre behind latest blowing up of oil installations by the Avengers?

Let me answer that question from the basics, this time in a counter-question mode: What is the barometer for measuring if truly militants in the coastal zone surrendered {all} their arms during disarmament at the height of Amnesty flag-off? Has there been any meaningful improvement {albeit hosting mainstay of the nation’s economy} in the lives of coastal dwellers since flag 1960? What is unemployment rate in the region? Has royalty overtime been paid {without debt} up-to-date to its traditional rulers? Have we any record of ‘consistent’ familiarity visit by the Federal Government to a region which contribute{d} largely to our pride and existential prestige as a nation? Leave NDDC out of respondents as it remain an  establishment, a proxy institution and machinery for siphoning funds, similarly to NNPC, the latter an agency long due for extinction, quote me! Those intelligent graduates will stop sabotage until these thought-provoking questions are honestly answered.

In spite of claiming to be politically neutral and not-sponsored, this analyst stand on the fulcrum of well-investigated report with ‘first hand’ interrogation, stand to be challenged by private individuals or the region locale, if any, that the so-called Avengers are predominantly PDP elements. As enunciated, the primary intent, lietmotif and aim of Avengers’ struggle is borne out of the following, albeit unverified and although partly justified, with all allegation directed at Federal government:

– Reduction of Niger Delta Development Commission NDDC budget from 250 billion naira during the last appropriation year {2015} to a paltry 41 billion naira in 2016

– Downward movement of Amnesty budget from 63 billion naira to 20 billion naira

– Removal of 10% benefits to oil host communities from Petroleum Industry Bill PIB

– Reduction of Niger Delta Ministry, simply put, Ministry of Niger Delta’s budget from 86 billion naira to less than 10 billion naira, and finally,

– Cancellation of all contracts meant for politicians from the region.

You may presume with last plight that, the once vigorous and resilient warlord, Government Tompolo fuels the ember of hostility in the region. Another way for rethinking hostility in the region, politically, is considering a rivalry or supremacy battle between Tompolo, an ex-militant and Ayiri Emami, the Warri young billionaire. Emami is currently APC blueblood. Tompolo, of PDP and a former contractor to Federal Government on security of waterways in the last democratic dispensation has been stripped of all existing contracts. Emami was a former Director of Delta Waterways during the reign of former ‘The Big Heart’ governor, Emmanuel Uduaghan before things fell apart, leading to the entertainment promoter’s decamp to Broom party. May I at this junction inform you this catastrophe is purely politically induced. It is imperative to remind the last plight is intertwined with the rest and engineered the cause and course of their struggle. Elite theory may best suspect class antagony, yet, it is sure an evaluator for political scientists to deduce roots of specific social dissonance among people who are intrinsically linked culturally.

Following these narratives, negotiations must as a matter of urgency be initiated by relevant government agencies. My religious followership of its activities reveal the Avengers are not cowards. Another way of presenting them, without over-hype is that they are noble exemplars of valour. It strike without shifting date as scheduled. In intent and purpose, by design and execution, it resembled MK, a militant and metamorphosed version of ANC during Apartheid regime in the heydays of independence agitation by native South Africans led by Nelson Mandela. Let me inform you the Avengers are currently consulting a Russian firm for arms importation. However small in number, ethnically, the Biafran agitators applaud their moves and could likely pledge allegiance to them, same way Boko Haram recently did to ISIL. I posit it is a semblance of MK because it does not aim at involving human casualty during its exercise.

That said, with an estimated 31.25 litres of petrol sold for 160 naira per litre, translating to 5,000 naira, the exact amount promised by APC to be paid monthly for unemployed graduates and under-privileged during last election campaign, it is thought-provoking why the governing party reneged on its statement. Let us be wary of the kind of the type of covenant we enter into. Another way for putting it is let us make our word our bond. Although politics give room for deceit, betrayal and manoeuvers, such should only exist internally for party affairs. Its import into national issues is detrimental to nation building in what Odia Ofeinum refer to as snowballing into ‘travails of managing Change in a society’ which earnestly look up to one. The resultant effect of youth restiveness and redundancy is what currently play out on the country’s political landscape.

With continued bombardments and aggression towards the Nigerian state, another dynamic of militancy could snake into insurgency, the trajectory of victory is inevitable so long as issues herein remain unaddressed. Africa’s most populated, and in extension Black world most populous nation’s president security details is vast aware of repercussion when intelligence is ignored, hence abortion of Muhammadu Buhari’s visit to Ogoni on 2nd of June 2016. The Nigerian federation has two roads to go: follow the path to harmony or choose the one to discord, which would you choose as an individual?

– Adedayo Osho is a political science graduate of University of Ado-Ekiti, Nigeria. A freelance journalist and lead analyst for Adedayo Osho Centre For Civic & Political Enlightenment. He can be reached on Twitter @Jahpolitical Mobile: 09030589989

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