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Niger Deltans: Unfairly Vilified?

May 21, 2011

Many people think many different things about the seemingly non ending conflict in the Niger Delta region of Nigeria.

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Many people think many different things about the seemingly non ending conflict in the Niger Delta region of Nigeria.

The feeling for some is frustration, some hope, some anger directed at the government and some others anger directed at the gun wielding youths. My feeling is just one of sheer injustice. Overwhelming injustice. Massive injustice.

I would have thought it was just common sense. I mean my dad utilizes my talent to feed the whole family, it is just common sense really that at least I will have access to as much toys as the other children, right? Maybe there can be a justified argument against me if I lay claim to the lion’s share of the money being generated, but can there really be any sensible argument against me if all I ask is food, shelter and clothing. Hmm hmm, I don’t think so.

I remember one of my teachers in secondary school breaking down the Ken Saro-Wiwa’s ordeals to me and that of his fellow Ogonis. They were killed by the government for standing up for themselves. Fast forward a decade and the lots of these people are still the same. How can things be normal. They live in shacks while the money they generate provide five-star, nay 15-star accommodation for the pot-bellied he and she devils based in Abuja. They swim or canoe between houses while the oil they produce provides people in other parts of the federation with cars, jets and who knows maybe even teleport-chambers. How can they lie down, fold their arms and not do anything. How is that normal?

Nigeria produces about 1.9 million barrels of oil per day and the price of oil as at 2011 is about $65 per barrel. OK, maths is not my favourite subject, but that’s a mind boggling 123.5 million dollars per day!! Say what you like, but why is it that the region that gives us as a people this much income can not at least be able to lay claim to acceptable roads, employment, health care and other basic social amenities at the very least. What the Ogonis get instead is oppression.

I get the lame argument that the squandering of the Niger Delta wealth is a blame that should lie at the feet of the leaders from the region. Maybe, maybe not. But if the federal government and not the state government take the oil directly from the region, shouldn’t they also give back directly to the region and cut out the vultures that re the state and regional powers that be?

I am all for peace, but let me at his point quote Malcolm X in a debate he had once somewhere in England “Extremism in the Defence of Liberty is No Vice; Moderation in the Pursuit of Justice is No Virtue.” I may not support violence but I most certainly understand where they are coming from.

I think we’ll be relieved if the militants in the Niger Delta region did lay down their weapons but life would really become what it should be if the government chose to do what is right and pay attention to these people. It would only be fair and I for one will not give any round of applause if any subsequent government chooses to finally do what is so blatantly right.

Olajide Jatto.
Dublin, ireland.

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