By Adeola Aderounmu
When late Musa Yar Adua became the ruler of Nigeria in 2007 in one of the several disputed elections in Nigeria, one of his “achievements” was granting amnesty to the Niger Delta militants. His 6 or 7 points agenda including the vow to improve power supply never saw the light of the day.
The origin and the spread of militancy in the Niger Delta creeks are based on different arguments and different school of thoughts. The arguments are also influenced by political inclinations.
I know some people who earn their livelihood by taking dangerous sea trips to fish in Nigerian internal and territorial waters. Therefore what I know for certain based on eye-witness reports is that the militants became more “useful” when Obasanjo was aiming for his second term in office.
The allegations wrap Peter Odili in the game plan and the summary was that when the elections were over, the militants became more potent than ever before and also found new ways and tools to become more relevant than the pre-Obasanjo era.
The things that happened around that time would lend more credence to this narration from a close person. For, at that time in the history of Nigeria more people became aware of attack on national pipe-line and spate of kidnapping, first of expatriates and then of Dick, Tom and Harry.
When I was a young boy, at my early teenage years to be sure, I remembered that I swore never to step my feet on the soils of Northern regions of Nigeria. I think my opinion at that time was based on the news and images that I got about Northern Nigeria.
I started reading newspaper at the age of 8 and today I am still glued to my news-magazine subscriptions despite the availability of the internet and online news sources. So, I must have been well-informed about the “terrorism” of Northern Nigeria that came in different shades-religious, tribal wars and all sorts.
I remembered how I “worked” hard to make sure that my service year did not cross the borders of western Nigeria. I knew what I wanted and what I never wanted was to be part of the inexplicable madness of Northern Nigeria where my neighbour could be the one to slice my throat.
I envy those who went up north as the Northern images formed in my teen years is still with me and once I decided to leave Western Nigeria, it was on an international flight. If things were different-I would have been a good traveller not only across the world but also in my country of birth.
Nigeria got her independence in 1960. However, and so, so sad, Nigerians have not been able to successfully steer their country. As I prepare to send this story for publication, the signs became more ominous with the staggering internal rifes across different political parties.
You hardly hear of ideological debates. All you hear and see are egocentric views and mentally deranged arguments and struggles that show extremely low levels of human cognitivity. In summary, Nigeria is completely derailed and hope is lost.
From one government to another, impunity rose, corruption soar and the plundering of the country’s wealth by both people, local and international institutions and governments continue unabated. It appears the goal is to leave the country in an irreversible ruin.
Every time I write about Nigeria the intelligent questions haunt me and I don’t want to be the one to state that the largest accumulation of black people in the world resulted to one of the most useless forms of government on earth and an unbelievably resilient followership.
When Yar adua granted amnesty to the Niger Deltan militants, the signals were obvious. It appears that to be heard in Nigeria; you also have to be harmed. The militants gained access to government houses. Some of them got some of the best houses in Abuja and in their home states. Militants under Yar Adua became kings and lords.
When Goodluck Jonathan appeared, militants simply took over Nigeria. They got juicy government contracts and government appointments/jobs.
In short, as a militant, you can meet with the president easily compared to if you were a university professor trying to get a grant for a special research project. As a militant, you can get a scholarship award easier than if you are a hard working students with poor parents.
Over the years in Nigeria, mediocrity was lauded as a virtue. It grew with time and today you really have to be almost a “nonentity” to rise to position of power.
Aggression, violence and instruments of murder have been used to steer Nigeria for long and eventually these crimes came to the surface and became their “rule of law”. Good people became endangered species in Nigeria.
It was therefore easy for Boko Haram to rise. The origin of Boko Haram is still under debate especially considering the possible infleunce of foreign elements/powers. What is sure is that they became more prominent in the post-Yar Adua amnesty days.
Boko Haram may have existed when I made up my mind as a teenager not to step on the soil of the blood-spillers. They may have been their when the power hungry rulers of Northern Nigeria promised to make Nigeria ungovernable for Mr. Jonathan.
You see, in Nigeria treason is not even a crime. You can say these volatile words and walk free. You can annul and cancel elections and walk free. In the same way, you can rule anyhow and steal anyhow and nothing “go happen”. It is part of their rule of law.
Let us not be deceived by what appears to be the roles of established government worldwide in the rise and spread of terrorism. The Federal government of Nigeria will not be the first to directly or indirectly sponsor terrorism.
The role of the United States in the rise of Bin Laden’s led Al-Queda in Afghanistan are well documented. When Gadaffi of Libya became the target of the United States and NATO, terrorists were armed to aid the displacement and eventual murder of Gadaffi, just to mention a few examples. People are still studying the Syria scenario.
The now established terror groups in Northern Nigeria can partly be attributed to the failure of the various governments since 1960. Before 1999 the majority of the dictators and rulers of Nigeria were from Northern Nigeria.
They deliberately impoverished their people intellectually. They ensured that their people were educationally deficient so that the Northern elites will always have their ways among the ignorant populace. Today, the pay-back price is inestimable.
Ignorance is a disease. Northern Nigeria is that place that will go to war for events or happenstance that are not related or connected to Nigeria. When religious conflicts occur in other countries around the world, death tolls can be higher in Northern Nigeria than the affected countries themselves.
You will never find a greater cost for ignorance except the emergence of full-fledge terrorism itself. Northern Nigeria was a ready-made fertile ground for terrorism, thanks to dictators and thoughtless politicians from that area.
The militancy in the South of Nigeria followed a similar pattern. The governors of the oil rich states have over the years looted their people blind. What will remain inexplicable is how the looters and thieves from this region always have the backings of the people they steal from.
The Stockholm syndrome should be renamed the Nigerian syndrome. A situation where the people will defend or support their “thieving sons and daughters” should open a new area of research in human behaviour, psychology or anthropology based on the Nigerian examples.
Even the vocal leaders of the Niger Delta and those who served as ministers in federal and regional institutions like OMPADEC and NDDC ought to be brought to books. They coveted to themselves all the funds earmarked for the development of the Delta. They took from foreign coorporations and from state and federal government without accountability.
Therefore the fault is not only at the door steps of the unitary government headed by corrupt rulers since 1960. However it is well known that if the head is rotten, then the entire body is bad. That’s where the buck always stops at the door of the central government.
The Niger Delta militants are now waging “wars” that lack ideology. They have seen how “easy” it is to become super-rich and influential in government through the use of guns and gun-powders.
They have seen how their members have spread all over the world yet still siphoning amnesty funds like leeches and parasites. Oh! I hope I am not the only one who knows that militants at home and abroad earn more money every month that many teachers and professors labouring in Nigeria!
What these mostly non-combatant militants have not seen is the end to the spillage in their environment. What they have not seen and probably not looking forward to is the implementation of all the policies and promises that have been made by governments and agencies connected to the Delta.
They have grown to love the quick money and get rich anyhow style. Like their masters-the local chiefs and like the government of Nigeria, the future doesn’t count for them.
Truth is, for more than 50 years Nigerian rulers stole and carted away the treasures of Nigeria.
Truth is, everything was neglected including education, health and other simple basic infrastructure. Hence, in Nigeria, it actually ought to be a total war on bad governance. All patriotic Nigerians should actually be out there asking the government to surrender, pack and exit.
In Nigeria, the new full-grown terrorism and militancy are delayed responses to the now more than 50 years of absolute waste of independent status.
It appears that the 3rd generation of pro-independence Nigeria are also wasting away. With the spread of militancy and the popularity of terrorism, one can presume that knee-jerk responses on the part of Nigerian government have made these twin calamities into wars that the Nigerian military will not win.
The end may likely come when the system of governance change radically. Those who have tried to fight off terrorism in the absences of functioning governments and social justice always fail.
It’s been 53 years of stupid rulership. Leadership does not not exist in Nigerian politics or military dictatorships. Nothing (except corruption and vices like impunity) is working with the system of governance where the man at the center decides for the whole country.
This ineffective system of governance has rendered almost all Nigerian government institutions paralysed-they are places for self-enrichment and not performance.
With evidence starring at us daily, we see that the Police are corrupt, the Judiciary is corrupt, the ministries starting from the presidency in the federal system to the departments in the local countries are all means for self-enrichment and endless political hullabaloo.
Nigeria will benefit immensely from a sudden change of system of governance. This means that the unitary system of government needs to be abolished as soon as possible. Doing so will automatically punctuate the ambition of the Northern terrorists and their sponsors who seem to be making the capture of Aso rock their goal.
Nigeria can do without Aso rock by appropriately returning power to the regions. Most of the stupid intra- and inter-party wars lacking ideology will disappear with the change of the system of government.
Regional governments will restore the old Western Nigeria and the other recognised pre-independence regions with minimal frictions for re-adjustments.
The change of the system of governance will not return Nigeria overnight to the paradise it was in the olden days. It will serve as the first step among several other steps that are needed to start the long journey back to normalcy.
Citizen re-orientation programs which will include patriotism, dignity of labour, promotion of merits, top- level discipline, committment to job, family, community and nation/country are among the virtues that will be needed in the various regions that will be re-instated or reconstructed.