Avengers and the circle of chaos -By Jerome-Mario Utomi

Filed under: National Issues |

 

The sudden threat by the Niger Delta Avengers to resume hostilities in the Niger Delta region should be something to worry about to all. The reason is simple: If such an outing which they promised will be “brutal, brutish and bloody” is allowed, it will again portray us as a nation that has not learnt any useful lesson from history and as well, marks the commencement of another vicious circle of chaos.

As a people, we have journeyed through a path consistently without result. Yet, we have refused to make a detour. As a nation, we have travelled to the southeastern part to watch the pythons “dance”. To the South-South to witness the ugly crocodiles “smile”. And the recent episode of these drama series Code-named, Operation Octopus grip as declared by the Nigerian Navy in the Niger Delta region.

All these “dances, smiles and grips” share but a common outcome called chaos. They have a way of leaving in their trails sorrows, tears and blood. The recent unprovoked invasion of the peaceful Ajakurama Community in Edo State in a drill code-named; Operation Crocodile Smile 11, bears eloquent testimony to this fact.

Despite all these unpalatable feedback from the targeted “beneficiaries” of these operations, our nation’s handlers have not deemed it necessary to appraise the entire process in order to situate if the strategy is achieving the premeditated result. Instead, we have pushed on, focusing on trivial concerns while forgetting to address the fundamental issues. Now, this systematic abandonment has succeeded in giving birth to the Avengers’ declaration which if handled with levity may plunder our nascent economic space into a more chaotic situation.

One point our military and the Federal Government in particular fail to remember when opting for the military grill is that, when soldiers are long in the field, the resources of the state are depleted.

These endless operations coupled with maybe a probable decision to go after the Niger Delta Avengers may further deplete our nation’s socio-economic resources. Hence, it is my opinion that the hour has come for us as a nation to seek real victory via dialogue and not through conquest.

To illustrate this position further, the Ijaw Youths Council recently stated that the government was in need of money to carry out its programmes in the Niger Delta region. Even the N2bn initial grant to the Maritime University at Okerenkoko for the school to commence academic activities last month has not been released. If the military has so much money to waste, why can’t it assist the government in carrying out those projects?

Expecting victory through military operation will remain elusive as history bears exemplified testimonies.

Again, I am well aware that the Nigerian military as an institution has public relations units or departments that function prominently in information dissemination. This is commendable but looking at PR as a practice, what is expected of this good office is much more than mere press statements.

A glance through the Mexican Statement postulation on PR will reveal that it involves “analysing trends, predicting their consequences, counselling organisation leaders, and implementing planned programmes of action which will serve both the organisation and the public’s interest”

The above should be the way to go. It will not be out of place if the military PR units go a step further to monitor and analyse these incessant agitations with the aim of unravelling their root causes and advising both the relevant authorities, which may include the Federal Government, accordingly.

Who knows, their findings may also point in the direction of the ceaseless call for the nation’s restructuring that has refused to abate.

Already, the masses are aware that the asymmetrical posturing of our political space is fuelling these agitations and efforts to calm the agitators using military drills have resulted in this vicious season of threats.

The restructuring debate is a constitutional issue given the fact that it was thrown up by the federal system of government as practised in the country. This fact favours the Nigerian Bar Association to be at the forefront of such a discourse guiding the nation accordingly. But their loud silence is doing the nation more harm than good as the entire nation has initially looked up to them at this trying moment.

But in maintaining this silence, what our lawyers and others have forgotten is that “the ultimate measure of a man is not where he stands in moments of comfort and convenience, but where he stands at the time of challenge and controversy’’. It is my humble submission that this time is auspicious for lawyers to speak up as a body.

The operation of the federal system of government on its own has become a problem not just in Nigeria but the world over. Hence, has become a discourse that we cannot shy aware from.

If federalism is still viewed as work in progress in the United States of America, it will not be out of place if it takes the front burner of our political discourse. It is time to empower our states and make them less Abuja dependent.

Jerome-Mario Utomi, Lagos. [email protected]

 

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