Thursday, 12 November 2009

Henry Okah! Niger Delta Amnesty and Failed Promises!

Niger Delta amnesty and failed promise!

Did I just see Henry Okah on Al Jazerra channel describing the amnesty programme of the Nigerian government as nothing but a stage managed play? scripted by the corrupt segment of the Nigerian ruling elite for the benefit of those who will control the multimillion dollar fund made available to those the government will hand pick to supervise the amnesty deal?And are we not witnessing the outcry by many a “former commanders” and foot soldiers of the Movement for the Emancipation of the Niger Delta and its allied partners who are now called “repentant militant” it was on the same Al Jazerra a self proclaimed “General Boy loaf” called on the international community to press on the Nigerian government to fulfil its promise of “given me the house they promised me in Abuja”, “put my children in school” and guarantee a “life savings”.Suddenly the issue is no longer about the ordinary people of the Niger Delta, when was the last time you heard anyone talk about “environmental degradation” when did you hear anyone speak about “oil spillage”? Oh or suddenly the spillage dried up and the Niger Delta women and children can now go swimming and fishing as the case may be. Or Shell , Chevron suddenly became socially responsible and the Joint Task Force transformed into a “friendly force of occupation”
I will not repeat what went through my mind when the idea of amnesty for the militants in the Niger-Delta was initially mentioned by the president. Many turbulent years in the struggle for the well-being of a great nation naturally influences my judgment of what the government says and what it truly intends to achieve. But all the same a lot of Nigerians and myself included did want the government to succeed and was hopeful that the government even if it is failing in all its agenda will at least succeed in the agenda of resolving the crisis in the Niger Delta. But alas we got hopeful to soon.I have closely monitored the implementation of the amnesty granted to militants in the Niger-Delta and many times anxiety has left me breathless; sick with trepidation. For so many reasons I’ve concluded that the mind of the average Nigerian politician is as fickle as the propaganda that gives him the audacity to rig his way to power and put Nigeria and her resources at her service.

Slowly but surely, the creeks emptied themselves out, weapons were submitted and now the fighters are on stand-by waiting for the next line of action. Meeting, endless inconclusive meetings have now taken over as the next line of action. What In the world are they now talking about in these meetings that they didn’t have enough time to talk about when the methodology and timeline for the amnesty were being worked out? Is it possible that from the on-set no one sat down to work out details of the processes and procedures necessary for the transformation of the so called restive people into resourceful citizens?Why do successive governments get to play the same brand of mischief with the same intensity and cunning? Could there be some mysterious secret initiation and orientation process that government leaders and officials go through to furnish them with what it takes to perpetuate such massive falsehood? And why do Nigerians always only grumble through it all and then animatedly talk about their suspicions coming true when at the end of the day the charade is seen for what it is and government of course fails to deliver on its promises?The saddest truth that has ever been told about the Niger-Delta is that very few stake-holders involved in the search for peace in the region are interested in seeing an end to the crisis. Governments from the federal through to the local levels are absolutely not interested in a peaceful resolution of the crisis. Too many vultures relish and flourish in the deaths that spoil the region, making it one of the richest wastelands in the world. The filthy politics and destructive leadership practiced by our governments can only thrive in an equally unwholesome environment.After all, most of today’s millionaires in the region are not descendants of legendary business men whose enterprise pre-dated colonialism. They are either crafty politicians and bureaucrats who negotiate for and corner resources meant to appease the people and develop the region or fearless men and woman who bully their way into the myriad of negotiating rooms where unscrupulous multi-national businesses and their cohorts in government pay them for the rights to drill billions of barrels and only account for a tiny fraction of it. And I am waiting for the day MEND will turn its anger at the local vultures, those Niger Delta Citizen who enslave the people of the Niger Delta and the common man who would never have a voice in an environment of violence, intimidation and chaos.Thus will you now call me cynical for suspecting that because it is now so difficult to out rightly steal public money, the amnesty was just a grand plot to get money out of the treasury and not a deliberate process in the search for peace in the Niger-Delta? And are the endless meetings not suppose to provide a clearance for time to perfect the scheme for the next phase of misappropriation?And now they feign shock and concern at Henry Okah’s judgment of the current situation. Isn’t an idle mind the devils workshop? Shouldn’t idle stranded fighters want to go back to the life and job they’ve always known? Besides, governments at the states could be missing their bulky monthly security votes they spend at their discretion.
The arms merchant must get back to business; there are more sophisticated weapons to sell. Before the creeks become war camps and arsenals again and hostilities escalate, the politicians and their cronies would have stolen enough money to abandon Nigeria and live lavishly in Europe or anywhere they fancy.I need Nigeria to prove me wrong this time; I desperately need to be proven wrong. We must not permit the charade being acted out to be played out to the end. We must all get involved; we may not all be from the Niger-Delta but no Nigeria can truly live well and in safety while the region is being torn apart. That joke and charade called amnesty should be for the benefit of not just the young man with the AK47 and his Bazooka but for the ordinary people who live in the hinterlands of the Niger Delta. The new expensive four-wheel drives now nicknamed “amnesty jeep” is not the freedom Isaac Adaka Boro, Ken Saro Wiwa and others paid the supreme sacrifice for. MEND must reMEND itself and the Nigerian government get off the TV and move machines to re build the Niger Delta.

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