WHAT NOW, FOR THE REGION?
Many of the countries that patronise the Nigerian crude oil are dropping the partnership due to the ever changing international politico-economic alliances. More so, the advancement of technology is tilting the world towards creating other options like renewable energy, to save the environment from the effects of industrialisation. Machines that can operate without oil and gas are being made and some countries have given timelines to move into using only electricity to power automobiles, for instance. The impact of all these is that the price and relevance of crude oil is globally reducing and probably end, save for African countries that are not interested in technology.
Also noteworthy is the predicted end of oil exploration within thirty years. The Minister of State for Petroleum Resources, Dr Ibe Kachikwu told amonpointtv.com on 29th June 2017: “Our oil estimate as per reserve is at best about 25 to 30 years, while gas estimate is over 60 years”.
So, if the Niger Delta did not get enough transformation or enjoy the benefits of having housed the source of Nigeria’s wealth after fifty years, what is the guarantee that anything useful would come in the next thirty years, especially now that the price of oil is on a free fall? How much struggle would be needed now that the economy of the country suffers serious setback and firms are struggling to ensure they survive? The environment has been destroyed. Towns have lost their balance. Families have lost their loved ones. Many have become sworn enemies. The economic life of the people changed. So much damage done on the once talented deltas on the earth. What will become of it if there is no instant remediation?
Has the region exhausted its agitations then? Is there still hope for the people? Gomba’s position:
Well, I think it will be a shame, if we ever come to a point where we exhaust our capacity of protest. …in every struggle, there will be high and low moments, there will be plusses and minuses. So if it appears that today, there is a bit of silence, even complicity in the region, it does not mean that the struggle is dead. Now this is very important in our understanding of the history of struggles around the world: as long as injustice persists, resistance will also persist. It does not mean that there will be an equal tempo all through the periods but the truth is that resistance does not die. The nature of oppression itself makes it impossible for the oppressed to swallow oppression and not fight against it.
We keep talking about this because we believe that there is hope. If we stop talking about it, it is going to be a hopeless situation. But as we keep this topic in the currency of our conversation, it means that there is a possibility of coming to the time when we will have the capacity to address them. So frankly, there is hope.
Pyagbara is as well hopeful and resolute. “For me, you don’t stop making your points clear. We’ll continue to present our template. We can’t go back until justice is achieved.”
Kaine Agary has this to say:
We haven’t lost the strength. The much that must be done lies in the leadership: the local, state and central governments. I don’t think that at any level, the leadership has shown any seriousness in addressing some of the issues in the domain. The local leaders should show more seriousness in their leadership and development of the region.
Dr. Peter Medee has some advice for the people of the region:
The Niger Delta should emulate the model of the Ogoni people. We need nonviolent struggle because you don’t destroy the pipeline and you say you are fighting the federal government. You destroy the ecosystem, the waterways, air and soil, thinking you are dealing with someone in Abuja. It’s like when a goat urinates in its sleeping place with the mind that it is doing it to the owner of the house. The nonviolence struggle is paying off. Other parts of the region must emulate it.
However, for Prof. Andrew Efemini, the region can only be salvaged if the entire country is restructured politically. The don is highly critical of the ethnic clamouring in the region, saying that it is simply the failure of the national leadership to do the right thing that is responsible for what he calls ‘enclave politics’ due to poor education of the people. The only solution was for the country to restructure, to enable it invest properly in other areas outside oil.
…all those group sentiments don’t mean anything to me because of my level of education. They don’t even excite me. There’s no statement to be issued by Urhobo people that I will start clapping. Urhobo will be this or that, those things don’t excite me. All those things like MOSOP, they don’t excite me because they are enclave agitations which cannot be an end in themselves. If we don’t restructure, Somalia will be better than Nigeria very soon…. All these things you are seeing: Niger Delta Militancy, Boko Haram, and Biafra are effects of a non-restructured, dysfunctional society. And you see how they handle them: suppress! More soldiers. More military. Anarchy! That will soon be our fate.
In the end, it all boils down to one thing: the Niger Delta needs attention and they need it urgently. The environment is dead, manifesting in various ways, like soot witnessed in the city of Port Harcourt some months before the rains began in 2017.
The effects are also psychological. Many young boys in the area have made mentors out of the bunkering lords and rich militants, thereby relegating the need for education. There is a ready supply of willing neo-militants. The majority of those who go to school do so to become politicians or appointees, all in the pursuit of access to the meagre resources in the delta. A lot needs to be done by the government, the companies and the people. The region must be healed of the industrial rape effects for the past fifty years, before the oil they boast of becomes economically useless to everyone.
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