Avengers and the future of the Niger Delta
Medical persons attribute man’s thinking capacity to the balance between the neurons and synapses in the human brain. A normal human being thinks before he acts but in Nigeria, it appears we suffer from a frontal-lobe crisis which makes us act before we think. The Niger Delta Avengers may begin to blow pipelines anytime from now like pyromaniacs and if what I read in the papers is correct, they may also blow up any human being who stands in their way to actualise their bombing campaign. Like Boko Haram, they don’t strike me as a thinking group.
Relationship-building between and among people in the Niger region is abysmal. It has reached the stage that politics in the Delta is war. Is this region the only one in Nigeria where politics is played? Why are they always pointing fingers at other people but themselves for all problems? Why aren’t politicians crying in the pool of democratic baptism? Why have they allowed certain people to give the Niger Delta a bad name by allowing them to be as wild as un-dipped devils?
We must blame other people for our woes. In 1999, some Niger Delta states were at par with Lagos State but are the region on a mission for growth and development like Lagos State today? Whatever the quirks of the leaders of Lagos might be, they haven’t lost track of the view of the future. They have succeeded in grooming the right people for the right job. There appears to be a pressure group fast-tracking the development of that state regardless of which party is in power. And the parties in opposition do not badger the party in power counter-productively.
All we hear in the Delta is that we have resources. We do not hear about any capacity in any sector apart from oil. Resources are always in reference to oil.Oil may not always be as significant as it is now. What happens when oil loses its value? Armaments in the hands of civilians exceed those that the police have.
Thanks to the politics of grandstanding, people with opposing beliefs are fingered as enemies in the Niger Delta. This is surprising because there is no electioneering mood at this time. We are supposed to be enjoying the fruits of democracy.
The executives and members of the opposition in other regions have all settled down to work, away from warring, waiting to be judged by the electorate in the coming elections. Do elders in the Niger Delta not know the benefactors of the Avengers and all those engaging in the acts of terror? At a burial ceremony in a local council in Port Harcourt, a massive compounds what struck me was that canopies and seats were arranged on a political-party basis. I am not yet a card-carrying member of any political party and so elected to sit on a tree stump. My host and friend hadn’t seen me yet, but when he did, he flew into a rage. “How dare you Abah, my guest, sit on a stump at such an important occasion as this?”
I bounced the energy back to him as snarling malcontents do: “How dare you arrange seats for people on a party basis knowing I am no member of a political party? This place is better for me so I can turn tail and flee when trouble starts.” How he laughed. “Come on, no one will try that at my father’s burial. Anyway the seats were so arranged at the request of the people.” But the nagging question on my mind all day was, “why are the people here so polarized and is physical force desirable to those in politics and government? Why do they like political warring here?”
Many people blame events in the Niger Delta on a conspiracy theory by the Federal Government. I disagree. Politicians in the Niger Delta do not act for the region but only for the party and party members. Do they truly mean well for the region? How can the region grow under a cloud of mistrust, fear, brickbats and disillusionment? No! The Niger Delta people shouldn’t behave like soldiers whose aim is to live as long as possible in the enemy’s camp while plotting strategies to kill those enemies. The main aim of great leaders is to solve problems which can only come about when there is a sense of urgency and a sense of community.
The essence of war is to kill and destroy. The Niger Delta is gradually being destroyed. What follows destruction? What happens to the people that the region was created for? Party supporters in the region jeer and barrack non-party members while tolerating the arrogance of members who do not offer solutions to any of the region’s problems. They should realise that people before them have made mistakes and avoid their lead so as not to make the same mistakes. They never work together in the spirit of the people of the region. Elsewhere, people understand the age-long advice of “understanding the mastery of the tribe for the benefit of all.”
Warring by the people is a cheap distraction from the life-affecting under-development in the region. The Niger Delta people and leaders need to significantly foster and nurture relationships with people in the region and outside the region. This would open new markets for companies, while creating prosperity and reducing poverty. So far, these relationships are out of kilter. The Niger Delta has invested little in relations with other parts of Nigeria.
This is very dangerous for trade. Why trade? Because commerce is a key component of the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals, the 15-year plan to fight global poverty. According to the UN, “trade can help to promote productive employment and decent work, women’s empowerment and food security, as well as a reduction in inequality.”
Abah wrote from Abuja.