Since the discovery of oil in Nigeria, the Niger Delta region has been the backbone of the Nigerian economy providing support for the administrative and political activities in Nigeria. This oil rich region has contributed immensely to developmental activities in Nigeria and has been solely responsible for making Nigeria one of Africa’s richest countries.
February 10th 2016 saw a role reversal for the Niger delta region. Instead of growing the economy, this region has single-handedly crippled the country’s earning power and has pushed the economy into recession. How did it get to this point? How is the situation being handled? Is there a better way to handle the situation to ensure a win-win for all the parties involved? These are this questions this EB Editorial intends to investigate.
Crocodile Smile Indeed…
On the 19th of September, 2016 the vice president of Nigeria blamed the Niger Delta militants for pushing the country into recession. As true as the accusation maybe seem – given that as a professor, he is knowledgeable in these things – word from the other end points fingers at politicians-particularly the present administration- for inciting the actions of the militants.
The Niger delta avengers, one of the many militant groups in the region, released a statement identifying themselves as “people who are out to pay the government in its own coins for abusing their oil rich region, polluting their environments and turning a deaf ear to the basic needs of the people”. They say that it is offensive that the government would take so much from their region and give almost nothing in return. They cited the improvised nature of the region as compared to Abuja in a bid to clarify their point.
What a way to treat your major source of income!
An Eye for an Eye…
Since the 10th day of February when Nigerians woke up to the news that the Niger delta militants have actually carried out their threat of blowing up oil installations in the region, the region has witnessed a continuous attack on pipelines, oil wells, electricity installation etc. They claim that Nigeria will no longer export oil from their region since the oil has not benefitted the region. Their actions brought about a reduction in Nigeria’s oil exporting capacity and attracted military action to the region.
Though the demands of the people of the Niger delta is understandable and maybe even justifiable, the way they went about asserting their demands denied their cause sympathy as the country is just recovering from the scourges of an Islamic militancy that has costed her billions of dollars. If we take an eye for an eye, we will create a world full of blind people.
Civility for results
The struggles of the Niger Delta is a justified one since in a true federalism, everyone is supposed to use their resources for the betterment of their region. However, the course of action of the Niger delta militants only brings destruction to the region’s assets and the exit of oil companies from the region. The situation created by their actions is not only bad for Nigeria but also for the people of the region because insecurity and militancy may come in one form but will certainly grow into many different forms.
The case of the Islamic insurgence in Borno comes to mind. In the beginning, the boko haram sect under Yusuf Mohammed was just rejecting western morals that are creeping into Muslims homes due to increasing exposure to western education and values. At that point it had the support of almost very northern Muslim as they were basically a philosophical group.
Sooner than later, the group turned violent declaring a war against the government, Christians and other forms of Islam. Today, we are all aware of the cost of allowing such things to foster in our society.
Needless to say, the same goes for the Niger delta region. At this moment, the philosophy of the militants may be appealing and justifiable yet, only God knows where the militancy will take the region. Will it end well? Or will it become the reasons for uncountable deaths and the displacement of millions of families? Only time will tell!
One thing we can say just yet is that if government does not become the bigger man in this conflict and initiate a way to discuss and deal with the demands of the Niger Deltans in a non-violent manner, the region may end up destroying itself and t may carry Nigeria along.
Here is a poem by Morell a Borno artiste on the issue of insurgency to drive our point home:
When you are pushed to the wall
It gets very painful
You will try to live a normal life
But that won’t be possible
Look what war did to Libya
Look what it did to Syria
Look what it did to Liberia
Do we want to bring war to Nigeria?
(A translation from a Hausa song Borno by Morell)