Niger Delta: Imperative of intellectual militancy -By Bobson Gbinije

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“The fact that man knows right from wrong
Proves his intellectual superiority to the
Other creatures; but the fact that he can
Do wrong proves his moral inferiority
To any creature that cannot.” -Mark Twain

The anecdotal portrayal of Greek mythologist and substantiated by an Urhobo adage, explicitly posits that, “When a hunter of antelopes, rabbits and porcupines, fortuitously comes across an elephant in the forest, he must change his gait and bullets.” Hence, it is tantamount to wisdom for there to be strategic repositioning, reorientation of logistics and re-orchestration of formula when there is a change of order in the social and political space in any society. Can this happen with the Niger Delta militants in their struggle for justice?

The Niger Delta is the area around the southern tributaries of the River Niger which is diverse in ethnic composition, full of natural environmental hazards, rich natural resources but characterised by abject poverty and neglect by successive governments in Nigeria. The mono- cultural economy of Nigeria has been sustained by Niger Delta’s oil from the pre-independence era through independence to the post-independence era.

Oil was discovered at Oloibiri in present day Bayelsa State in 1956, but became commercialised in 1958. Since its commercialisation, the people of the Niger Delta have been treated with scorn by the powers that be. In response, the people of the Niger Delta have adopted multi-dimensional strategies aimed at drawing successive government’s attention to its deplorable plight.

The Federal Government of Nigeria as it were, made the economic strangulation of the Niger Delta the fundamental objective and the directive principle of state policy. It has refused to recognise the universally acknowledge principles of sharing in oil producing nations which is, “quid, quid protantolosolosocedit” (the man who owns the land owns what is on it, beneath it and above it). We are allocated, suffocated and spoon-fed with the laughable miniscule thirteen percent or is it the hanging but laughable 25% derivation formula. Is this fair? Why is the Niger Delta being hounded and hectored by the Federal Government of Nigeria?

Why are the genuine efforts of the Niger Delta martyrs like Isaac Adaka Jasper Boro, Ken Saro-Wiwa and the Ogoni nine, Monday Obotaire, Raymond Pemu, Victor Atiri and the submissions of the Niger Delta representatives to the National Confab not reflected in the Federal Government’s oil policies on the Niger Delta? Is pipeline vandalisation the way out? Is this divide and rule being adopted and fine-tuned by the federal government the way forward? And is the Niger Delta Master Plan the road map to our long sort after el-dorado? Will kidnappings, hostage taking, pipeline vandalisation and the weird violence being carried out by our youths and militant groups the way forward?

Recently, a group of Urhobo youths under the aegis of UrhoboGbagbako claimed responsibility for the March 22nd, bombings of Nigeria Petroleum Development Company, NPDC, oil pipelines in Ekiugbo, Ughelli Local Government Area on a massive scale. It said that the aim was to give vent to their demand for pipeline surveillance contract. The affected pipeline was a trunk line which conveyed the product from Eriemu, Kokori, Afiesere, Uzere, West-End at Kwale, Ogini, Olomoro and Owhe to the Ughelli Quality Control Centre, UQCC.

The English playwright Alexander Pope in his Essay on Man said “let the ends of things disjoin, it is the whole world that suffers.” We admonish our Niger Delta militants that the President Muhammadu Buhari has just come on-board. We ask and pray that he should be given a short while to spell-out and actualise his road map and strategies on the Niger Delta plight. If Niger Delta militants continue to bomb oil installations, it might be a misconstrued as a deliberate and clandestine ploy by ex-President Jonathan, his Ijaw tribes men and his PDP to frustrate the present government.

We therefore call for Intellectual militancy, which is the civilised and co-ordinated presentation of our complains and grouse through discussions, peaceful protest, court actions, non-violent diplomatic global and political channels, like the United Nations, African Union, ECOWAS, OPEC, ASEAN, European Union (EU), ICC and other such-like bodies.

Intellectual militancy also entails the avoidance of bombings, kidnappings, suicidal missions, social brouhaha, political hara-kiri, kamikaze actions and sanguinary bloodletting. PresidentJ.F Kennedy (1917-1963), in his inaugural address, Jan. 1961 said “the world is very different now. For man holds in his mortal hands the power to abolish all forms of human poverty and all forms of human life. And yet the same revolutionary beliefs for which our forebears fought are still at issue around the globe.” It is therefore advisable for the Niger Delta militants to adopt the strategy of Intellectual Militancy.

Mr. Bobson Gbinije a social; critic, wrote from Warri, Delta State.