In November 2005, the militant youths, and possibly some of the wiser elders in the Niger Delta decided that their entitled rewards from their fatherland had been delayed long enough.
They took their long held grievances concerning what they see as the rape of their natural inheritance by the Nigerian government and the foreign multinational oil companies to new and refined heights. Their usual method of vandalizing pipelines, and spilling crude oil into their own rivers, farmlands and backyards, was not yielding any tangible rewards for them. So, they went back to their drawing board, and came up with the most attention getting form of protest these days kidnapping the enemy. The foreign nationals who work for the big oil companies became prime targets. If they kidnap Nigerian workers, who would care, or bother to negotiate for their release, they probably reasoned. But, if a white man or better yet, a couple of them disappear, then the whole world would sit up and take notice. The impenetrable swamp lands became the perfect places to hide the kidnap victims, while negotiations for their release went on. Meanwhile, CNN, BBC, Sky News, and every news organization from here to China got on the bandwagon. The satellites beamed their search lights down on the Niger Delta and housewives in rural America, Albania, Australia, India, England and Egypt suddenly became aware of the existence of an area called the Niger Delta in Nigeria. The best was yet to come though, the ‘holy grail’ that has become the price of a barrel of crude oil also sat up and took notice.
Every time the militants of the Niger Delta coughed, oil prices fluctuated in far away New York, affecting the purses and wallets of everyone, throughout the world. The sheer magnitude of the ripple effects of their actions must have caused the Niger Deltans to swoon in delight. The power to control everyone’s pockets!
The Nigerian government is notorious for its snail like approach towards conflict resolution. In most cases, they just let the conflict run its course, and hope that some thing bigger or juicier will come up to take the place of the earlier hullabaloo. But, wait a minute, could this new method of protest that the Niger Deltans are using, possibly benefit the federal government of Nigeria? If the price of crude oil rises, doesn’t it mean more money for the government coffers? Could the so called palliative measures to solve the crisis, and even the laughable three day strike action by oil distribution workers, all be camouflage tactics, to fool the whole world into thinking that something is actually being done about the situation in the Niger Delta?
In spite of the huge derivative accounts dedicated to the development of the oil producing states, most of them do not have the basic infrastructures to even begin to associate themselves with the 19th Century, never mind the 20th. Is being born into a particular geographical community give a person the bonafide right to totally own that particular piece of earth? Who are the real enemies here, and who exactly is to blame for the mess the Niger Delta has become? First, there are the political bigwigs from the Niger Delta, who form a super club, and collect on behalf of their kinsmen, the bonus funds meant for oil producing states, and pocket them. Have the gun wielding militant youths of the Niger Delta ever tried to kidnap their political bigwigs, or seriously hold them accountable for the public funds they have pocketed?
Then, there are the multinational oil companies, who take out so much from the land profit wise, and put in so little to positively impact on the environment. Their workers are currently at the receiving end of the nasty situation, and they have not made any serious moves to improve the crisis or to systematically and frequently inform the public about their input into the said communities.
Thirdly, there are the young hot heads, who are so carried away by their emotions, that they won’t even let the contractors whom the government have retained to put down infrastructures get on with their work. The beef here is that, if a contractor is not from the Niger Delta, then that company has no business doing jobs that should have been awarded to the sons of the soil, never mind if the sons of the soil have no idea about the ABC’s of the said job.
Finally, there is the corruption that permeates every level of life in Nigeria, as though the country was tainted from the womb. Everyone, presidents, vice presidents, senators, members of the house of representatives, governors, local government chairmen, pastors, priests, principals, teachers, students, everyone is on the take. Everybody views any given situation in terms of how it will translate into his or her pocket.
I personally think that the problem of the Niger Delta is caused by all of the above given reasons, and much more. Besides, only God can endure knowing everything without being bored. What do you think?