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The Niger-Delta: A Cradle of Violence

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Author: Okah Ewah Edede
Posted to the web: 5/30/2006 4:07:20 AM

The Niger delta is a swampy area of about 70,000 square kilometres, trodden upon by approximately six million inhabitants, unevenly distributed amongst twelve ethnic nationalities, traversing eight hundred communities. The people inhabiting this treacherously beautiful landscape were, in the past, mostly peace loving farmers and fishermen. These peasants made their living from the swampy land and creeks, using the proceedings of their toil to feed, shelter, cloth and educate their wards. From their meagre out-put, they also appeased a pantheon of irascible gods. Then wealth was discovered underneath their sod and they heaved a sigh of relief, believing that their lives will cross over to the next level. True to thought, their lives did traverse to the next level. But, loo, instead of wealth, it plummeted deeper into acute poverty, despondent privation, deteriorating penury and agonizing pain. The wealth beneath them made their earthly existence to take a spin for the worst: life lost its meaning, and the youths stared into a bleak future. After the toils and sweat of their parents in educating them, the youths of the Niger delta had nothing to show for all the sacrifice their forks made in other to see them through school. Now it was time to reciprocate to the aged for giving them, against all odds and hope, a standard education. But, alas, there was no job for them! Even the conglomerates in their domain refused to employ them; neither did the government develop their destroyed habitat. To make matters worst, the youths could no longer resort to farming or fishing like their forebear. The exploration of crude oil had damaged the once virgin and pristine quality of Mother Nature and so, they couldn't engage in the basic occupation of their progenitors. The youths walked about with sunken eyes. Then elections came and jobless educated youths were armed with AK 47s. Now, they had an occupation: the politics of AK 47 gave birth to the economics of AK 47 and the Kalashnikov became an economic variable as the Niger delta youths took to the creeks to engage their tormentors in a macabre dance of molten lead. Humanity was aghast. Stupefied. Stunned. What could possibly have turned a passive and peaceful people into the bedrock of violence? A crushing melancholy necessitated by hunger transformed the beautiful creeks of the Niger delta into a cradle of violence. Before long, hunger made a once peaceful black people (Izzons) to start abducting peaceful white men, all in a bid to make an all powerful oligarchy see the wisdom in granting them a paltry 50 percent of the wealth being stolen from their land. But, rather than justice, the sapient oligarchy, through an unfair hold on the state and its monolith apparatus, ordered Byzantine horror to be melted upon the inhabitants of the creeks; whole villages were razed down by a conquering army. The Nigerian state now occupied the oil and the land of the Niger delta, but they couldn't occupy the creeks. The pantheon of irascible gods the Niger deltans worshipped saw to that. The creeks belongs to the youths and their SMGs. The Kalashnikovs reigns supreme in those matrixes of creeks. The Nigerian state uses certain obsolete laws to perpetuate its Byzantine injustice against the people of the creeks. These cruel laws are: the land proclamation ordinance (# 8) of 1900; the Land and Native Rights ordinance, 1925 amendment; the public Land Acquisition ordinance; the mineral oil ordinance of, December 31, 1914; the mineral ordinance, 1946; the petroleum Decree, number 51, 1969; the petroleum production and Distribution Decree, 1975; and the draconian Land use Act, 1978. These obsolete and colonial laws have been used to orchestrate permanent and eternal raping of the Niger delta. Come to think of it, why can't the Federal government go back to the 50 percent arrangement it had with the three regions? What is wrong in giving a people 50 percent of their rightful wealth? If crude oil had been discovered in the North, the North would have insisted and gotten a 100 percent proceeding of that wealth. In short, the North would have seceded from the rest of Nigeria if it were denied that right or the nation failed to apply the principles of federalism. Now, the Niger delta youths have started attacking politicians, organizing mega bank robberies and literally making the streets unsafe. It's high time the Nigerian state listen to the people of the Niger delta or else, those boys may turn Nigeria into the likes of one of those East African States. Wisdom is lacking where there is no justice.
By Okah Ewah Edede 08056349025

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