There is a saying that “If the hand is unable to find what it needs in a bag; the eyes would render assistance” Before the peoples of Niger Delta became desperate about survival, the older folks of the land had been forced to conclude that the terminal illness inflicted on them by the economic and political activities from the ruling class can never be cured through their numerous peace initiatives which kept winding up as unimplemented “White Papers” from the various Committees purportedly put in place to address the problems of Niger Delta.
And when the youths of Niger Delta understood that waiting for positive outcome from the numerous Committees to address the problems of Niger Delta was tantamount to the adoption of a suicide-pact, they became highly uncomfortable with the excuse of their parents’ inability to provide for their welfare, owing to the despoliation of the means to do so, by some persons who are not from their land, taking certain decisions outside their land, and coming up with the resolution that it has been decided at their meeting that the land of Niger Delta now belongs to them.
Though the ruling class of Nigeria may not be admitting that they have by such actions declared a war on Niger Delta, but I wonder what else it could be when a peoples’ land have been forcefully taken from them; the land occupied and exploited for the economic benefit that does not include them, administered and plundered through the assistance of an army of occupation which is forcefully demanding civil comportment from the natives.
Engaging in oil exploration activities in this manner did not only result to “burning the straws with which the people of the land were expected to make their own bricks” it was also systematically removing them from the better future that was imported as a bait to make the mission adorable to the senses; whereas the activities were leading to strange illnesses, directly traced to activities of the oil exploration. “If a person, who is against your will to survive, expects you to be at peace with him; would he also expect your silent prayers to be at peace with him?”
In any case, the desperation to survive became more forthcoming than the youths’ abiding with the passivity of the elders of the Niger delta. And therefore, the call to duty naturally had to assume a posture that appeared militant, since the option of peace was never going to work.
It is a great pity that all sections of this country have been unconsciously made to understand that violence was more superior to peace. Even now, Nigerians have been peacefully begging the ruling class to prosecute the people involved in the monumental stealing from the oil subsidy regime; the Federal Government has been telling Nigerians to “mind their business”
The question to further ask is “What else could be a man’s business; when it is not about his survival?” It is the summation of all of these little infractions that have led to the sad situation in this country. When elections are rigged and very unpopular persons put in place to rule the people; when the ruled know more than the rulers; when there is huge lack of the knowledge of job-creation; when democratically selected rulers become autocratic.
For the umpteenth time, I would state that the atrocious activities of the Boko Haram have reached a horrendous scale. As it is our tradition for events to attain such dimension before they can be worthy of national concern, we can now begin to discuss how to give the troubled spots the treatment they deserve.
Years back, I read a book of the title “Want to stay alive?” by James Hadley Chase.
The antagonist was a fellow, who had the means of making the rich respond to his demands. He referred to his means as “the formula for fear” which he deployed; knowing that “Fear is the key that unlocks the wallets and handbags of the rich” Truly without being equivocal, “Fear” is a very potent instrument in eliciting attention.
Sadly too, this is the only pattern that gets the attention of Nigeria’s ruling class. It was only sometime ago, when members of the national Assembly were putting questions to the ministerial nominees that we saw what seems like concern for the average Nigerian, who can hardly afford the kerosene with which he cooks his daily meals.
But if it had come to the knowledge of the ruling class, that kerosene was an essential product in manufacturing the explosives used by the Boko Haram, only then would mobile policemen and indeed the soldiers, had been drafted to escort each tanker load of kerosene to the bed room of Nigerians.
In my assessment of members of Boko Haram that have been shown on television and pages of our newspapers, it would seem that their avowed protestation against western civilization or culture is misplaced; for I see some wearing tracksuits, shirts and trousers, or even traditional attires that are sewn with sewing machines, which are products of western civilization.
Moreover, it is also explicit that the torchlight, motorbikes, cars and explosives the Boko Haram members deploy are all products of western civilisation. Conceptualising all of these, I perceive the motivations as highly political, rather than religious.
We can hereabout present a catalogue of the many issues that ought to elicit a national concern, but unfortunately, it is the ones which employ “the Fear Formula” that get attention. This is what the members of Boko Haram have come to adopt. Presupposing the Niger Delta only got attended to after they became violent.
In considering a negotiation with members of the Boko Haram, it would be tilted towards addressing the case of massive unemployment in the northern part of Nigeria. After which, in haste, the youths will be trained and provided jobs.
Moreover, for some, who believe is it sinful to have any person outside northern extraction, ruling Nigeria, and are willing to break up the country than to continue in such a “Sin” the Boko Haram is coming as a perfect shield for their personal intentions and would prefer the evil party to last long, or they would avail the opportunity for a negotiation with the Boko Haram to throw in their personal pursuit.
All of these highlight our parallel ambition as a nation; in a place, where the majority of the people are unemployed, and can hardly feed, the citizens wake up one morning to discover that the electricity tariff albeit epileptic supply has been jacked up.
A country that leaves its citizens with far less spending power, and expects the private sector to be the driving force of the economy. A man renders information about a hideout close to his house, where people are being robbed daily, to the police. Some policemen are then drafted to take-cover around the place with the intent of apprehending the hoodlums.
The man’s son, who is returning from an all- night church service early in the morning, is mistakenly apprehended. In spite of the man and his son’s being able to establish the truth, the man had to spend a few thousands on bailing his son from the hands of his captors, the police. Mean while, our ears are deafened by the strident calls of the Nigeria Police Force on the public to volunteer information of criminals and their hideout.
Importantly, I have found no more auspicious time in our national life than now, in determining how we can safely live together. We must submit that the moment has come to depend on the much touted National Conference to bail us out. It is milder to imagine what the situation would become if most Nigerians adopt violence as the only winning ways. Otherwise, how about the civil servants employing such ignoble ways to register the seriousness of their agitation for the payment of the minimum wage?
Yes, some of us have become too lethargic about believing in the possibilities of such extreme cases, and comfortably hoping that God would never allow the worst to happen to us. But the families of the Youth Corps members, who were massacred for participating in the last elections, have lost faith in the aim of oneness after. Such experiences can never be detached from the progress and consequences of the major infractions in our continued existence as a united country.
In future, historians would note these episodes as failings and fundamental catalysts in the disintegration of a one-time homogenous people. They would echo the travails of our parallel ambition as landmarks on the path of our self-perdition. Now is the time for everyone to be mindful of the role he or she is playing in all of these. Our defining moments are here with us now.