An average vehicular water tanker in Nigeria is very old. Counting the years from Independence, many of them are older than Nigeria. They are usually a contraption of horribly welded parts.
When they take their full consignment of water, they will be lucky if they get to their destinations with one tenth of their original load because of the many holes, big and small on their bodies that will make sieves envious. Did the drivers know of the holes? You bet but they simply do not give a hoot in hell if they get to their destinations empty.
This is the picture of Nigeria, horribly welded together with a thousand holes now so obvious as inefficiency, tribalism, injustice, religious bigotry and deliberate indifference, such that our nation operates at less than ten percent of its potential. By the end of this year we would probably be down to five percent. I voted for President Yar Adua and for more than one year I held out hope that he would make a difference. But more than two years after, it is obvious that we have been afflicted with a leader who does not have a clue what to do. We have seen his best and it is abysmal. Every government since independence inflicted us with its own version of mediocrity but compared to this government they now smell like roses. There is not one single sector of Nigeria where there is hope. The recent and growing calls to reduce the seven point agenda to a single one focusing on electricity is reflective of what people now think of this president. He provided ample reasons for this lack of trust. More than one year after a publicised vow to declare a state of emergency in the power sector, we are still waiting for the promised declaration, even when it is so obvious that the sector has gotten worst and has virtually collapsed. After reading Mallam Nasir El Rufaiâ€™s account of how he became president, very few people expect anything remarkable. He was and is still not mentally prepared or able to cope with the demands of ruling a nation like ours. The initial energised proclamation of rule of law was meant to mislead and it succeeded for a while. Vision 2020 is dead. The promised six thousand megawatts of electricity by December 2009 will fall short by a large margin. Why? This government does not think things through before coming out with its pronouncements. Everything so far has been more of the knee jerk variety and no one has succeeded in running their own lives successfully that way, talk less of a nation as complex as Nigeria. A nation that should be in a hurry to develop has lost two critical years. It is scary to think of another two years and insane to think of a second term under this president.
Why should the so called amnesty granted Niger Delta militants, wrapped up in so much confusion, buck the trend and succeed? The lamentation of Ledum Mittee is more than abundantly clear. He said, â€˜Since the Willinkâ€™s Commission in the 1950s till date, there have been several reports, several attempts to deal with the issues but there has been consistency in non implementation.â€™ Would the crisis have escalated if this president had matched his words and promises to the Niger Delta with action for two years? The amnesty is therefore nothing short of another knee jerk attempt to save the Nigerian armed forces from itself, because they have neither the training nor equipment to fight in the creeks. It is also an attempt to manage the negative fallout of global condemnation following the senseless bombardment of fellow Nigerians. At the end, only the Caliphate stands to benefit. How?
The Northern political machine has always been underestimated by their opponents and it has always worked to their advantage. They have successfully split the South wide open, making them see themselves as East and West and not a united South. They have shown a regular streak of unity that preserves their regional interests. Pause for a moment and consider how at unannounced conclaves and times, in unknown venues they are always able to collapse individual interests, for instance to produce one presidential candidate while different zones of the South are encouraged and financed by the same North to produce more than 20 candidates, a method that regularly and successfully splits Southern interests, votes and money to the point where they become less than side shows. It is the hallmark of the elders of the Caliphate.Â
If the amnesty is not a ruse for the real Northern agenda, why was there no plan, any plan for the post amnesty period? How will the North advance their own interests with this amnesty? Their game plan is to buy time to infiltrate, corrupt, track and kill militants especially their leaders. They will kill them through assassinations which will conveniently be blamed on robbers, kidnappers and engineered internal crisis within the militant groups. Some will be poisoned. President Yar Adua older brother was similarly killed through injected poison. Others will be injected with HIV Aids virus, the type El Rufai alerted the world he has been promised if he dares to step foot into Nigeria. The idea is to decapitate the leadership quietly, out of sight and make their troops leaderless and easier to infiltrate, corrupt and destroy.Â
The Caliphate will leak mostly false information for instance that huge sums of money meant for militants was released to certain named elders. Such elders will then be eliminated by the Caliphate and militants would be conveniently blamed, driving a wedge between them. False rumours designed to disrupt cohesion and weaken cooperation amongst militant groups will also make them vulnerable to elimination by the Caliphate. This was how Abacha orchestrated the killing of the Ogoni Four which he blamed on the Ogoni Nine, who were subsequently judicially murdered by his government. We all know what became of MOSOP after its leadership headed by Ken Saro Wiwa was decapitated before a stunned and helpless world. When Harry Marshall was killed, nothing happened. Dikibo died from assassinsâ€™ bullets and the heavens did not fall. The thinking of the North is that nothing will happen if more leaders of the Niger Delta are killed. Newspapers would predictably be full of indignation. Civil society groups would groan but in the end nothing will happen. If you add Ken Saro Wiwa and Co, it is clear the Niger Delta has lost more leaders than any other zone through state sponsored assassinations and judicial murders.
Â Who will be next to be murdered? President Yar Adua takes no prisoners-political or military. In politics, he showed his hands when he did not allow Atiku Abubakarâ€™s party to win in Atikuâ€™s ward during the Adamawa State gubernatorial rerun election in a bid to show Atiku as politically irrelevant. The gloves came off in the Ekiti State governorship rerun election. As 2011 draws close, we will see the full gory details of desperation by a president whose approval rating according to Guardian Opinion Poll is now 25%. Militarily, he is just as ruthless as Saboma Jackrich, alias Egberipapa found out too late. He is alive but only because he was arrested in the palace of the Amayanabo of Kalabari, in the presence of witnesses. The level of treachery on the part of the Joint Task Force â€“ JTF is typical of the Caliphate. In the words of Sabomaâ€™s lawyers, â€˜On the day he was arrested, our client (Saboma) being a leader was invited by the JTF to attend a reconciliatory meeting geared towards ending militancy in Rivers State. Surprisingly when he got to the venue of the meeting, he was arrested by the JTF. This action of the JTF in our view amounts to a serious breach of trust on the part of JTF.â€™ The reconciliation meeting was a ruse to capture Saboma. Ken Niweigha, an Ijaw militant captured in battle was summarily executed in police custody.Â On whose orders was his execution carried out? Your guess is as good as mine.
If Professor Wole Soyinkaâ€™s timely and well reasoned position that the attack on Atlas Cove should not be viewed through ethnic lenses had not succeeded, the Caliphate may have launched attacks across the South West in order to blame MEND and start a tribal war between two major Southern tribes that should otherwise cooperate. After all, a Yoruba son, Governor Babatunde Fashola has shown President Yar Adua that a prepared leader can achieve so much in two years, a sterling performance that may have induced jealousy and informed the letter of ultimatum on the 37 LCDAs that needlessly opened another front for a hapless president. No one should dismiss out of hand the presidentâ€™s warning that â€˜if…dialogue fails to resolve the situation, then the federal government will be forced to take measures that will ensure that the Lagos state government, its INEC and other agencies are compelled to abide by the constitution.â€™ Would these measures include the declaration of a state of emergency â€˜to defend the Constitution and preserve the authority of the Federal Government?â€™ It would be the first but do not rule it out of the arsenal of a PDP desperate to â€˜captureâ€™ Lagos state at any cost. As Thisday newspaper noted in its balanced editorial on this matter, â€˜The Presidentâ€™s letter to the Governor of Lagos State could have been less truculent.â€™ Thisdayâ€™s eloquent observation that, â€˜It is rather curious that the federal government was referring to a High Court judgement on the issue when a superior court had ruled on the same subject,â€™ speaks volumes of some dark motive.Â Â Â
Â I have wondered how the Caliphate would try to manipulate the South South governors who seemed to have finally found their voices and really rocked the boat? Governor Rotimi Amaechi of Rivers State fired the first salvo when he characterised the proposed Petroleum Industry Bill as an act of impunity against the Niger Delta. Collectively the governors exposed the lack of a post amnesty programme which caught the Federal government off guard, uncharacteristically illuminating the amnesty as a colossal ruse. Before now they watched the pittance allocated to the so called Ministry of Niger Delta in silence. They heard the Federal government declare that the deliberately withheld and undisbursed funds meant for NDDC had expired. They endured the ignominy of the Federal government nominating a Northerner, Ibrahim Gambari to chair a Niger Delta summit until public outcry at the insensitivity aborted the process. They heard that a Federal Petroleum University meant for Effurun, Delta State would now head for Kaduna. They saw that the advertised list of promoted senior officers in the NNPC, like the number of local government areas, states and other appointments was lopsided in favour of the Northern. Perhaps the question to pose to explain the initial applauded gubernatorial militancy was how much injustice is too much? Is there a breaking point? If there is, did the governors reach that breaking point? Only victims of injustice and dishonesty can determine their own breaking point. I thought we would therefore be making a terrible mistake if we dismissed the position of the governors as opportunistic. I was sure the Caliphateâ€™s blackmail and intimidation machinery against the governors would swing into action and wondered how long before the governors began to buckle? The Caliphateâ€™s style of blackmail has not changed since Ibrahim Badamosi Babangida perfected it. In addition to being a student of Machiavelli, Babangida may well have under studied Edgar Hoover, the late head of the United States Federal Bureau of Investigation â€“ FBI who was known to instruct his officers that if they dug deep enough about his targets, their wives and children they will always find dirt, sufficient for blackmail. With scooped dirt Edgar Hoover was able to blackmail the most powerful men in America including Presidents. Babangida went a step further and created the dirt with which he still commands an unwilling army of â€˜loyalistsâ€™ held hostage by the dirt in his possession. He compromised and corrupted men and women, politicians, union leaders, business men and religious leaders through elaborate entrapment using money and documented sexual acts. Abacha was crude but no less effective. Sam Mbakwe was told to participate in the infamous two million man march in Abuja or be roped into a coup plot. He cooperated. The Caliphateâ€™s time tested ways of buying and demanding â€˜loyaltyâ€™ is a combination of the Babangida and Abacha styles. With the Niger Delta governors it has worked swiftly and efficiently. They have shamefully surrendered. They swallowed their words and courage on the altar of what I am sure are vicious forms of blackmail. How else can I rationalise the words of the governors after just one meeting with the president whom they had earlier lambasted for the lack of a post amnesty plan. According to their spokesman the governor of Cross River stateÂ Liyel Imoke, â€˜we as governors confirmed our unconditional support for the amnesty programme and our commitment to ensure that the amnesty is implemented in the manner and form in which Mr President has envisioned it to be.â€™ Â Whoever wrote the statement read by Liyel Imoke generously rubbed the humiliation in. The governors even declared that they never suggested that the Petroleum Minister should be sacked. E K Clark who had earlier declared that the leaders and elders of the region are prepared to back their governors who are demanding justice at last must be shocked at this capitulation. What manner of gun was held to their heads? Threats of EFFC corruption probes with bulky files and the governorsâ€™ names on them within their visual range? Threats of impeachment? Or pointed hints to forget second term. Incidentally, all the governors desire second term. The most vulnerable is Emmanuel Uduaghan whose election is still being contested. They could have threatened to throw him out with the bath water, invoking Chris Ngigeâ€™s name in the process. The Caliphateâ€™s got them where they want them. From now on, no one in the Niger Delta – militants, elders and citizens will take the governors seriously on this issue, perhaps on any issue. Isolated, the governors will increasingly depend on the federal government for support and second term re election. The Caliphate has opened a crack in the wall and they will surely seek to widen it.
Does Mr Victor Ben Ebikabowei aka General Boyloaf believe President Yar Adua will fulfil his promises or meet his demands? Which other nation apart from Nigeria takes 3 years to build a 200 kilometre road? In three years, the Caliphate hopes to have mastered and crushed the militants. My question to Mr Ebikabowei is, as you accept the invitation to dine with the aggressors and cheats, how long is your spoon? Never forget that the lion lives only because a weaker animal has died.
When the civil war ended, Biafrans became Nigerians again but the open discrimination, neglect and marginalisation started to swell the ranks of people who see themselves once again as Biafrans. Undisguised marginalisation is the price you pay for losing a war in this part of the world. The struggle in the Niger Delta must therefore not fail. If it does, their fate would be worse than that of the Igbos. It is now in their hands to force a just Nigeria. This will be achieved by completely destroying Nigeriaâ€™s capacity to produce crude oil. The price of failure will be higher than the price of securing liberty. Any signs of weakness will be fatal. The caliphate believes they know how to handle other Nigerians. Throw money at Igbos and they would fight each other to a standstill. Throw up positions at Yorubas and the worst part of them will be on full display. For the other smaller tribes including those in the Niger Delta simply kill their leaders. Niger Delta militants should talk softly but their big deadly stick and willingness to use it must always be taken for granted.Â As the Ikemba, Dim Chukwuemeka Ojukwu once said, â€˜in politics, if you are feared, you will get everything.â€™
The ultimate aim of the Caliphate is to dip the Koran in the waters of the Niger Delta. President Yar Adua on his way to Brazil as North Eastern Nigeria burned told the nation that the rampaging murderous Islamic fundamentalists in the North wanted to â€˜declare holy war… and force their belief on the rest of Nigerians.â€™ The Guardian in its editorial noted that â€˜…inspite of the recurrent incidents, no single perpetrator of the heinous crime has been put on trial and punished.â€™
The president did not apologise that he was one of the 12 Northern state governors who introduced Sharia law in their respective states. Nigeria is a secular nation and we miss the point when we concentrate on the brand and interpretation of Islam the Boko Haram sect wanted to force others to adhere to. If they had their way back then, the governors would have forced their own version of Sharia law down the throat of all Nigerians. They are not better than the despicable Boko Haram sect who are following in their footsteps. If it is true that the Boko Haram sect is 1.5 million strong and in all the states of the North, then this is just the beginning. What will follow next? Suicide bombings?Â
Â One headache the Caliphate cannot handle is the providential geographic proximity of Igbo land to the Niger Delta. Years ago, Dim Chukwuemeka Ojukwuâ€™s response to this intention to dip the Koran in the waters of the Niger Delta was to warn the Caliphate that to get to the Niger Delta, they would have to pass through his home town Nnewi and he would not let them. Make no mistake about this, if this struggle falters and fails, our grandchildren would become slaves to the Caliphate.As horrendous and senseless as the mayhem was, there is no justification whatsoever to summarily execute the Boko Haram leader Mohammed Yusuf, his financier Alhaji Buji Foi and many others. The United States did not summarily execute captured plotters of the September 11, 2001 attack in their custody. Neither did Spain, United Kingdom, India and even Indonesian when they too faced terrorist attacks. Mohammed Yusuf and Buji Foi who was a onetime Commissioner for Religious Affairs were highest profile captives who on interrogation would have given valuable information. How many others like Buji Foi are there across the North? Perhaps their execution after they were publicly seen alive and photographed as captives was to stop them pointing fingers at others like them still in government, waiting to finance the next mayhem. The order to waste them must have come from the highest level of government, perhaps in line with the presidentâ€™s widely reported orders to â€˜fish out any remnants of these elements and deal with them squarely and promptly.â€™ It is frightening to know that the police and army have death squads that waste lives with impunity. The people in authority know who they. They know who ordered the execution of the Boko Haram sect leaders and who pulled the triggers. It is therefore laughable that this government wants to probe itself on extra judicial killings. How many Niger Delta militants including those captured in battle and those heeding the amnesty have been or will be summarily executed after bestial torture, conveniently out of sight deep in the creeks? We will never know.
The international community has put Nigeria on suicide watch. Numbered amongst the worldâ€™s 15 weakest nations, we are half a step away from becoming a failed state.Â The prediction that was made a few years ago that Nigeria would disintegrate is inexorably close to fulfilment. Yet the international community does not seem to understand that international mediation is urgently required to avert a catastrophe. It is possible they have given up on Nigeria. Or because the shortfall in crude oil production in Nigeria is easily taken up by Angola, Iraq, Saudi Arabia and others. What will it take for this mediation to happen? Is it when the river of blood crosses Nigeriaâ€™s border? Or when she collapses into bits of ungovernable entities? Surely they are not deceived by the so called ongoing rebranding of Nigeria. No one has succeeded in selling a bad product twice. As is obvious over five decades the aggressor and cheat and their off springs cannot end the prevalent cheating spree not just in the Niger Delta but all over Nigeria. Only credible international mediation led by any of these eminent statesmen, Bill Clinton, Al Gore or Gerhardt Schroeder will stand any chance of success.
Are there reasonable Northerners? Certainly, but they are so few and given the Caliphateâ€™s current agenda, their voices will be easily muffled or snuffed out. If in doubt what has happened to El Rufai and Ribadu are indicative of how vicious they can be even against their own who remotely threaten the status quo.Every Igbo person must see himself as a Niger Deltan. Ohaneze Ndigbo in its recent communiquÃ© noted â€˜that the real matters in dispute in the Niger Delta are constitutional matters relating to true federalism, particularly the failure to extend that principle to the mineral wealth of the Niger Delta and an inequitable system of revenue sharing… Peace cannot be obtained until the real issues are addressed.â€™ Is the North ready to address the issues? No. The militants have rightly made it abundantly clear that they will not let the North buy time, vowing not to allow repairs of destroyed oil installations during the so called amnesty. Â
When Edgar Hoover was told that people were worried about the unjust treatment of blacks, his response was, â€˜who said there is enough justice to go round?â€™ The Caliphate believes there is not enough justice to go round in Nigeria. If the crude oil in the Niger Delta was in the North, derivation would have been a non negotiable 80%. Or they would have walked away a long time ago to secure 100%. Their actions suggest they do not believe in Nigeria and are in a hurry to take as much as possible before the break up.
Again let me reiterate that it is not an accident that Igbo land and the Niger Delta are neighbours who should cooperate to demand a just and true federal structure using all available options. But if Nigeria fails, they should live in peace, each respecting the otherâ€™s sovereignty with an understanding that an attack on one is an attack on both.
Â I am an Igbo man, but was born, breed, buttered and raised in the Niger Delta. I saw the oil spillages and 24/7 gas flaring which will still go on for indeterminate number of years, with a continuing legacy of devastated and dead rivers, streams, ponds, farm lands and environment due to the continuous and combined assault of acid rain and spillages. No one who has not lived there will understand their agony, helplessness and pervading feeling of total neglect in the face of such amazing but stolen wealth. When ground nut, cocoa, palm oil and co were the nationâ€™s main resources, the sharing formula favoured the regions where the wealth was generated. During the 2005 constitutional conference, the Niger Delta asked for 50% derivation only to get 13% and boastful grandstanding by the representatives of the Caliphate – â€˜the owners of Nigeriaâ€™ led by Umaru Dikko. Before long every Niger Deltan will become a militant. The surprise is that it has taken almost six decades of brazen injustice to get to this point. E K Clark has declared â€˜that the period of marginalisation…by the government at the centre was over.â€™ Make no mistake, this is the breaking point, one way or the other!
Okechukwu Peter Nwobu