REAL TALK: CHECK OUT THIS POWERFUL ARTICLE BY ‘OSERUVWOJA TOHWO’ TITLED ‘HOW JUST IS THE DEMAND OF NIGER DELTA AVENGERS AND FEDERAL GOVERNMENT PROPOSED DIALOGUE’

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For the past few weeks, the activities of a group in the oil rich
region in Nigeria has dominated the atmosphere of the National and
International information media. Mirroring the high level of
poverty,environmental pollution,theoretical marginalisation,insecurity
and infrastructural deficit in the Niger Delta Region.

The activities  been executed by a group called the Niger-Delta
Avengers is gaining popularity in and outside Nigeria; with diverse
views. Discussants finds it difficult to  separate the Acts from the
Intention and possible effect of the group activities not only on the
economy of the Nation but the environment of the region . This
difficulty, is experienced not only regionlly but also Nationally when
National issue are discuss. This is due to  paying of patronage to
regional and political affiliation rather to National interest.

The pillars to lay the justification of the actions of the group is
somehow difficult. It is difficult to stand and drive home the points
of their struggle, bearing in mind their continuous statement that “it
is meant for the benefit of the people of the region”.

A quick look at the 1999 democratic system being enjoyed till date,
reveals that the Niger Delta Region  seems to have benefited more.
This is according to  speeches and celebrated remarks made not only by
Nigerians who are not from the region, but also Sons and Daughters
from the region who have held one political position or close to the
corridors of power; when in office but play  different music when out
of office.

Some of the said benefit recorded, according to their speeches at
stakeholders dinners and meetings includes:

 Firstly, the establishment of a Federal Agency know as The Niger
Delta Development Commission (NDDC) in 2000, whose objective is to
formulate policies and guidelines for the development of the
Niger-Delta areas (provided in Section 7 NDDC Act). This agency gets
allocations directly from the Federal Government to the tone of
15percent of the total monthly statutory allocation due to member
states from the Federal Account (Section 14(2)(a) NDDC). This amount
to Billions of naira entrusted to the Sons and Daughters of the Region
who handle and managed the Agency.

Secondly, at the tail end of Former President Obasanjo’s tenure in
2007, there was  established yet another agency know as the Oil
Producing Area Development Commission (OPADEC). Established
specifically to address the issues raised by oil producing
communities. This agency, unlike the NDDC was domesticated by States
involved (Delta was DESOPADEC,EDO was EDOPADEC etc). This agency was
established to transform oil bearing communities in the States; by
managing 50% of the 13% derivation revenue accuring to oil producing
States from the Federation Account and channelling the resources
towards Infrastructural and human capital development in the oil
bearing communities. It is worthy to note that this agency is also run
and manage by sons and daughters of the Region.

Thirdly, in September 2008, Late Umaru Yar’Adua the then President of
Nigeria, announced the Establishment of Ministry of Niger-Delta
Affairs as part of the Amnesty Program. This ministry was empowered to
formulate and execute plans,programmes and other initiative as well as
coordinate the activities of agencies,communities,donors and other
stakeholders involved in the development of Niger-Delta region (with
Billions of Naira allocated to the Ministry). The ministry is headed
by the sons and daughters of the region and also dominated the staff
roll.

Fourthly, with the intervention of God, a Son from the Niger-Delta
region became the President and Commander in Chief of the Arm Forces,
piloting the affairs of the country along side the Minister of
Petroluem Resource for Six Years. Our country was bless under this
leadership as we recorded the highest increase in price of crude oil
up to 102 dollars per barrel.

Not forgetting the Amnesty Programs with billions of naira spent
…where militants and the ‘voices of the voiceless’ became
billionaires with some having the ability to build Universities and
create employment with easy access to education; yet they  travelled
out to create employment to our neighbouring countries.

Moreover,the demand of the group in public domain resulting to several
attacks on Oil facilities in the region, shows the true intent of the
Niger Delta Avengers as a total disconnect from the region they fight
for. Their acts is not only going to cause harm to the Federal
Government but the Host community where this facilities are been
destroy. The aftermath definitely out weighs the benefit_ if even they
are fighting for the people as claimed.

Meanwhile, there would be no benefit to  support the communities
harbouring them. At the end the individuals involved in these acts,
their sponsors and deceitful idea marketers will smile to the banks
and increase the digits in their accounts. The people in the region
will be left in a worse pitiable condition before the struggle.

The questions yet to be answered by supporters and promoters of the
activities, youths, communities, traditional,religious and political
leaders from the Niger Delta are:
1. what happen to the monies allocated to the agencies in the region
by the Federal Governtment?
2. Who are the people in Charge of the Agencies and the Ministry?
3. Who are the contractors?
4. Can the development in the region be measured up with the Monies
received by both the Governors and the Agencies? 5. Apart from the
states in the Niger Delta which other state receive 13%derivation?
6. What do the Governors have to show? Can we boast of any achievement
after Anmenty?
7. Which other region have a Federal Ministry?
8. What happen to over N10 trillion recieved by Governors of the
Region from Federal allocation for the last 16years?
9. How justifiable is the struggle where an ex-militant is having
N3billion in one Account overnight?.
And the most important question; WHO ARE WE TO BLAME THE FEDERAL OR
THE STATES  OR THE LOCAL GOVERNMENT  OR THE COMMUNITIES OR SONS And
DAUGHTERS OF REGION who have or had access to monies coming to the
region?.

The propose Federal Government negotiation with this group is not only
an attempt to expose the weakness of the Nation as the bone of Africa
but also awaken the sleeping giants… by questioning the sanity in
youths who are promoters of law and orders that are patiently sitting
by the fence to see how the drama would end. Caution and discipline is
the key.

However, if the government must go ahead with the negotiation, it  is
also better to extend that same meek hand of fellowship to suspected
criminals awaiting trial, Convicted criminals in Nigeria prison,
negotiate for their release and also offer public apologies and
compensation to them.

 In conclusion, the Government should define the word ‘CRIME’ for
better understanding for Nigrian Youths. Lets not forget the popular
Universal proverb “the presence of Peace is not the absent of War but
the presence of social Justice.”

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