The Niger Delta Elders and leaders under the leadership of Papa (Dr) Senator Edwin Kiagbodo Clark Pan Niger Delta Elders and stakeholders Forum deserves Kudos by all well meaning Nigerians for presenting such minimal demands before the government of Nigeria to pacify a people and region that has being continuously raped and dehumanized since 1914, because the Golden Egg she lays is the commonwealth of the nation.
These demands will lead the roadmap to engender desired peaceful atmosphere that Nigerian state so need if there is sincerity. The days of buying peace through unpatriotic Niger Deltan like the Rotimi Amaechis, Ayirimi Emamis, Timipre Sylvas to extract our resources are gone for good. Since the day crude oil and gas resources was discovered for the past 60 years, we are only asking for portable water, electricity, affordable healthcare, quality education etc; until 1994, when our people were visited by state sponsored military terror by the regime of General Sani Abacha, a regime President Muhammadu Buhari served as one of his henchmen and chaired the Petroleum Trust Fund.
Our Elders, Traditional Rulers and stakeholders have spoken. They have placed the minimal legitimate demands of the Niger Delta region before the Nigerian government. The prospects of regaining the trust of the people by talking down on the people or using the instruments of force by the state are gone. This is the 21st century Niger Delta; we gave the Nigerian state and her International Oil Corporations freedom, peaceful atmosphere overtime but was betrayed. We are not deterred by President Muhammadu Buhari mulling over continuous military operation and so-called funny and odd doctrines like military choke points, Operations Delta Safe and talking ignorantly like a medieval kings by asking people to leave Nigeria if they wish.
We the people of the Niger Delta do not expect a different attitude/personality from General Muhammadu Buhari, this nation has being feeding and sustaining from the resources of the Niger Delta since his dangerous entry into national affairs which started 1976 despite his bigotry and inconsistencies. His date with history has just started. Since 1994 when he and his colleagues advised their boss, general Sani Abacha to draft the military into Ogoni land, it has not been the same again. Despite the state orchestrated and sponsored killing fields, from the Ogoni-Nines (Kenule Saro Wiwa) to Kaiama, Odi, Okerenkoko etc, all to sustain the free flow of crude oil from our fatherland, but nothing can stop our resolve to achieve our legitimate struggle, we are only waxing stronger, more determined and mastering the battlefields, while the Nigerian governments will continue to lose the war.
It is high time president Muhammadu Buhari, employ capable brains that will manage his body language and government positively before it degenerates to a psychopathic regime. At his age he can decide to stop listening to those Rotimi Amaechis, Timpre Sylvas and Adams Oshiomoles etc that bankrolled his journey to power with stolen wealth from our states that he has adequately shielded against justice as compensation. Any leader that is ready to govern his people must have political education. Else, he is a criminal. You cannot treat the Niger Delta with disdain while you treat your brothers that are terrorists and mere kidnappers (Boko Haram) like kings and queens by committing the International RedCross and Red Crescent Movement from Geneva to witness your transactions with them, before releasing their hostages to you.
Our fathers and elders have done the needful we are not disappointed. The issues they raised bring to the fore the mistakes of the Nigerian federalism that have sustained the perennial struggle for restoration of our land. The demands are the minimal legitimate roadmap to setting up the framework to achieving the short, medium and long objective for the restoration of tranquillity and development of the region. Some are issues that need affirmative actions, the immediate take off of academic activities for the Nigerian Maritime University (NMU) Okerenkoko for the 2016/17 academic sessions, withdrawing all occupational security agencies and agents in the Niger Delta. The Nigerian state genuinely need the cooperation of our people to sustain the flow of the abundant crude oil and gas resources in our land to quench her appetite of developing other sections of the country without regards to the Niger Delta, the people and the environment.
There are no problems among groups in the agitation; we may have challenges of speaking in one voice. When the trumpet blows, we will go the biblical way of “separating the Wheat from the Tares” (Matthew 13:24-30). We know that, there are some elements and by-products of conflicts merchants from the Niger Delta working with some sold and bought up interests against the peace and development of the Niger Delta that works closely with those, President Muhammadu Buhari abdicated governing of Nigeria to since, May 2015, that are deplorably misusing his trust.
The path to peace and conflicts resolutions is always not a straight jackpot. The greatness of every nation is not building strong men but building laws and strong institutions, there will come a time the people of the Niger delta too can do the thinking for Muhammadu Buhari, if he cannot find solution from his tribal lords and strong men around him. There are more than one ways to skin a cat, the president need the people of the Niger delta more than we need him. We sympathise with President Muhammadu Buhari at present, from traumas of Boko Haram and herdsmen- his so-called brother and children that he is handling with kids gloves and the deliberate state orchestrated killings in Biafra land. Let Muhammadu Buhari be advised to come down from that his ethnic and religious fundamentalist iron horse to set the federal government dialogue and negotiations team with neutral international observers and representatives of IOCs.
Brig.Gen Mudoch Agbinibo