The Tales Of A Nigeria With Self Centred Agitations By Odusote Oluwakayode
I was engaged in a controversial chat with some concerned citizens on issues bothering on our nation’s security challenges and the rate of poverty. Whilst a group maintained that the need to survive from poverty has been a factor that has driven some persons – called Militants, be it Niger Delta or Boko Haram- to take up arms against the country, the other group believed that, the some of the militants are freedom fighters, fighting for the rights of the poor in their various communities.
I have realized for some years now that when controversial issues are discussed amongst Nigerians, it is hard – I mean hard- to get objective resolutions. Regional sentiment is first of all attached to such discussion and it has always been a major problem in getting genuine resolutions to issues of national concern. The meaning is that we may not be the Nigeria we pretend to be. Every citizen is first of all from a particular region or federating unit before being a Nigerian.
The need to realize this fact was what brought about the agitation for a Sovereign National Conference (SNC) by some concerned elders of the nation. Obasanjo in his days as president of the nation kicked bitterly against the idea with rude reactions that such calls are ploys towards undermining Nigeria’s Sovereignty. Prof. Wole Soyinka, a leading figure in the call for a conference of ethnic nationalities at the height of Boko Haram bombing and the Federal Government’s extension of an amnesty and dialogue with the sect, maintained that, the nation is now being forced to recognize the need for a dialogue. He maintained that a call for dialogue is necessary, that the government should be reasonable enough to allow it and not until brigandage, militancy and chaos allowed to force its call.
The recent political developments within the PDP, which is having its negative toll on the nation and the genuine need for a lasting national solution to regional political agitation, may have led to the surprise call by the Senate President, David Mark, on Tuesday, September 17, 2013 for a national “conference of ethnic nationalities”. From both ends -Leaders and Followers alike- political and regional demands have been devised as a means of survival in the midst of continued national decline.
Politics has become so lucrative that a born pauper could become a billionaire within seconds of involvement in unhealthy political practices. Most time, Nigeria’s practice is not the system that encourages or reward hard work. Therefore, to possibly earn a sustainable means of growing income- become a politician! The act of militancy is just another devised means of making earnings. The moment arms are taken up, due to the recklessness of government, it is easily claimed that the course is of the down trodden, by such act; the government is forced to settle the criminals all in the name of amnesty and dialogue. I refer to them as criminals, because their initial basis of holding unto arms against the government is easily jettisoned the moment their selfish thirst for wealth is quenched.
The story of a heroic outlaw in English folklore who is known to be a highly skilled archer and swords man comes to mind. Robin Hood, known for robbing from the rich and giving to the poor was assisted by a group of fellow outlaws known as his “Merry Men”. In the earliest sources, Robin Hood was said to have been wrongfully dispossessed of his lands and made into an outlaw by an unscrupulous sheriff. The story of the Niger Delta region of Nigeria could be easily adapted into the Robin Hood folklore. The days of the acclaimed struggles for emancipation of the Niger Delta people by ex militants like Tompolo, Asari Dokubo and others are still fresh in memories. Unlike Robin Hood, these sets of criminals have been so pardoned, dined with government, gotten security contracts to protect oil pipe lines and have become so wealthy that the choice areas of Abuja is their abode. The tunes of agitations changed from fighting for the masses to protecting the interests of President Goodluck Jonathan in particular and the government in general. In a recent interview, Asari Dokubo maintained that “There would be blood in the streets if Mr. Jonathan is not re-elected president in the 2015 election,” the militant leader threatened. He spoke on a Channels Television programme – Politics Today. He said the battle to get Mr. Jonathan in office for a second term cannot be fought from the outside, therefore, he would register as a full member of the ruling Peoples’ Democratic Party (PDP).
“The way things are going, there is no sitting on the fence in the battle before us,” Mr. Asari-Dokubo said. “When some people say they have a right to rule and others don’t have, then there is no sitting on the fence. All of us will have to be in the ring and fight. We cannot leave Goodluck (Jonathan) alone.
Just like the lucrative business that politics and pipeline vandalization has been turned into and in a likely bid to get out of poverty, recent events of incessant kidnapping could be a proof of another devised means to an end.
It was reported last week that Delta’s most wanted kidnap kingpin, Kelvin Ibruvwe, gave the government 60 days ultimatum on infrastructure in his community. He was reported to have led a group of masked boys who wore military camouflage and carried assault rifles where he addressed residents of Kokori in Ethiope east local government.
He is said to be the leader of the “Liberation Movement” for the Urhobo People (LIMUP) and threatened to shut down all oil wells in Urhobo communities if at the end of the 60 days the federal government does not grant their request. Ibruvwe, who confirmed that he has since been declared wanted by security agents for allegedly master minding high profile kidnappings in Delta State, said his actions were to draw the government’s attention to the poverty level and neglect of the Kokori community, which according to him produces the best oil in the country.
He said: “We are giving this ultimatum because the cheating is too much, the federal and state governments had neglect us for so long and now we want them to hear us because for over 50 years now, they have been drilling oil from our community which is the second best oil in this country, yet we have nothing to show for it. “There is hunger everywhere; graduates have no jobs. So we want the government to listen to us and that is why we are giving them 60 days ultimatum to listen to us or else we will shut down all the well heads in the area. If they like, they should bring soldiers. When we want to strike, no amount of security can stop us because we are not alone, and there are top people in this country and in foreign land backing us.
“The reason why they have been hearing of the name Kelvin is because of what I just told you now. The government must listen to us. Boko Haram will be destroying the Northern part of the country while we will be destroying the South south. We will destroy all the well heads in Urhobo kingdom.
“After the expiration of the 60 days ultimatum, the federal government will know that we don’t make empty threats, but that we are capable of doing something but we are guaranteeing them that within the next 60 days there will be peace, but if they think we cannot do anything, then they will hear from us after the expiration of the 60 days ultimatum…”
He went on to say “When the Ijaws and Itsekiris where agitating with arms, we the Urhobo youths chose to be peaceful, but what did we get? We are rather left out completely in the amnesty programme. Is it not the same oil that the Ijaws and Itsekiris produce that is also produced in Kokori, which has the second best oil in Nigeria? So what is our crime?”
It is reported that the residents of Kokori are in support of his acclaimed agitation. I do not have to blame them; poverty is a disease and any idea of getting such community out of it, whether genuine or not would be fully supported. This is just a new twist to reasons for kidnapping and a subtle declaration of a needed amnesty for kidnappers. I wondered if as a kidnap kingpin, he has been able to sponsor young indigene of the community to school from the spoils of kidnapping.
Our history is filled with records of untold suffering. Some leaders have seriously abused their power for personal gain to the detriment of the people. “History is a tale of efforts that failed, of aspirations that weren’t realized”, said former US secretary of state Henry Kissinger. We have been plagued with leaders by circumstance that lack the necessary wisdom and foresight needed to manage the affairs of a blessed nation successfully. How can a leader who staggers in directing his own steps direct the steps of a nation?
As a nation, we have not genuinely elected a president to govern our affairs. We have been having leaders by permutation, good will and luck. In such situations, there are no plans because most of them were usually unprepared for the tasks, therefore, when wrong desire coincides with opportunity, errors and mistakes would occur and the resultant effects become devastating.
P.D Metha wrote: “A vast amount of suffering is due to our own lust, to our feverish pleasure-seeking and self indulgence, to our greed and our ambition”. Cravings and addictions of all kinds- corruption, greed etc- have ruined and crippled our development as a nation.
As we have been subjected to witness these events of agitations, unfortunately, most of them are soiled with falsehood. Be it political, ethnic, religious or tribal. Some individuals or groups are comfortable creating chaos just to attract attention from a weak government and get sorted.
Most of them are simply lovers of themselves, lovers of money, self assuming, haughty, puffed up with pride and lovers of pleasures. They are in our midst and they come up with different demands just to satisfy their selfish interest. Except a genuine conference of ethnic nationalities is called to chart a sincere course for the future- in the midst of political rancour, Boko Haram bombings, oil theft, pipe line vandalization, kidnapping and assassination- the nation may just be drifting unknowingly to the prophetic break up of Nigeria in 2015.
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