Friday, 2nd June 2023

Niger Delta agitation and politics of forgetfulness

By Jerome-Mario Chijioke Utomi
24 March 2023   |   3:23 am
Sir: The politics of remembrance and forgetfulness emphasises that as humans, it issometimes convenient to forget. At other times, it is uncomfortable to remember.

Niger Delta

Sir: The politics of remembrance and forgetfulness emphasises that as humans, it issometimes convenient to forget. At other times, it is uncomfortable to remember. It further argued that to forget is perhaps one of the greatest gifts of nature. But to remember can also be an invaluable asset sometimes.

Bearing the above fact in mind, it becomes comfortable to remember that the Niger Delta region of Nigeria, like their counterpart in other parts of the country have in the past eight years been cheated in ways that have made restitution become a costly process; inferior education, poor housing, unemployment, poor healthcare facilities and very recently recession. These are the bitter tablets of oppression the people have taken for the period under review. Now, this neglect has accumulated interest and its cost for this nation has become substantial in financial and human terms.

More specifically, it is equally something not convenient to forget that the struggle to take control of the resources got from the Niger Delta region has been everywhere. In fact, the clamour for resource control occupies the tongue of every Niger Deltan.

The people of the region have persistently told the Federal Government to give them full control of their resources and they can developmentally change the lives of their people.

Indeed, while such discussion/debate have thrived for over two decades, it however, elicits the question as to why it suddenly become convenient in this period of electioneering, for stakeholders and Niger Delta advocates to forget this long held view.

Like the generality of Niger Deltans of goodwill, this piece is particularly worried that instead of pushing hard to make resource control a campaign issue by placing it at the front burner, the same Niger Delta resource control proponents have, for yet to be identified reason(s), deliberately abandoned or unconsciously forgotten the topic.

Even as the silence, failings and failures of this advocates turned political jobbers remain deplorable, qualifying this current disappointment as a crisis is the awareness that it is coming at a time when the recently enacted Petroleum Industry Act (PIA) which stakeholders hitherto believed would sanitise the Nigeria’s petroleum sector and save the people of the Niger Delta region from the clutches of pollution, devastation and degradation orchestrated by crude oil exploration and production, has manifested sign that it will neither safe nor serve the people of the region.

I think it is important to expose the fundamental flaw in this basic politics of silence and forgetfulness.

First, if we do nothing about it in this period of vulnerability to engage the public office seekers in ways that will fast track implementation of PIA regime or compel the IOCs to comply with international best practice in their daily operation within the region, it means we will fail future generation of Niger Deltans by leaving them a more diminished and devastated region.

Jerome-Mario Chijioke Utomi