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NIGER DELTA CRISIS: No end in sight

Posted by By EMMANUEL OGOIGBE, Warri on 2008/06/30 | Views: 2461 |

NIGER DELTA CRISIS: No end in sight


A traditional ruler in Bayelsa State, Emmanuel. Bankole Kimia says the Federal Government has misfired by drafting the military to the riverine communities of the Niger-Delta, saying the area should be demilitarized immediately for a sustainable peace to reign in the battered region.

...Niger-Delta will continue to boil unless… –Monarch

A traditional ruler in Bayelsa State, Emmanuel. Bankole Kimia says the Federal Government has misfired by drafting the military to the riverine communities of the Niger-Delta, saying the area should be demilitarized immediately for a sustainable peace to reign in the battered region.

According to him, the presence of the military has contributed greatly to the upsurge of violence, especially hostage-taking, pipeline vandalisation and wanton killing of innocent persons.
Kimia who is the Amananaowei III of Agbere Tarakiri Kingdom in Sagbama Local Government area of Bayelsa State explained that the youths are becoming restive because they regard the presence of the military as an affront, provocative and a situation whereby the Federal Government is intimidating them.

The monarch who recently fled his community for fear of being killed by some desperate politicians who he says, see him as an obstacle to their corruptly enriching themselves from the oil royalty accruing to his Kingdom said that Nigeria might need its own Jerry Rawlings to deal corruption a death blow in Nigeria.
He spoke more on national issues and the battle he is facing with his kinsmen. Excerpts:

Could you proffer solution to how violence and hostage-taking in the Niger-Delta could be reduced or totally eliminated?
In short, criminality will be over if youths are gainfully employed and the region massively developed.

Sir, do you support the call for the withdrawal of the military from the Niger-Delta region? Will it serve any purpose?
Yes, Government should know that the youths are more provoked with the presence of the military. It is like a situation whereby they are being intimidated by the Federal Government.
The earlier the military is removed the better for everybody in the region because it has contributed greatly to the unending violence in the area.

Do you mean politicians are killing your community?
Frankly speaking, I do not have problems with my people except some disgruntled politicians who will always want to grab the money meant for the development of the area. My people have been calling me to come back home but I do not think I can change the system now with the current struggle against corruption and until it succeeds; I cannot come back to my community.

Sir, do you think President Umaru Yar’Adua has really effected his plans to transform the Niger-Delta region?
I believe Yar’Adua is a God sent human being but he is surrounded by crooked politicians. He has wrong advisers too. I believe Mr. President will do well but my advice to him is that he should allow various ministries to handle the development of the Niger-Delta and should also forget about setting up agencies. I feel that will bring in quick result.

What about the master-plan to transform the region?
Yes, everybody is happy about the master plan but the delay is becoming too long. It creates some doubts within the genuine freedom fighters in the Niger-Delta. The earlier the master plan is implemented without delay, the better for everybody.

Sir, what is happening in your kingdom?
Well, it is a pity that as soon as some tangible achievements, in terms of financial reward from AGIP Oil Company, was to come to my community, politicians tried to divert that amount to their personal pockets and vehemently, I stalled that arrangement. The second arrangement was that some so-called agents to my community wanted to take certain percentage of money that was coming in, I also stopped it.

Consequent upon these happenings, I decided to relocate to Warri in order not to endanger my life because there were series of threat to kill me.
I tell you that my communities have been attracting a lot of government attention in terms of projects. In fact, over 12 tangible projects were not finalized or completed, they are always abandoned after some community elders have been settled. So that has been the problem in my community and I believe if is a common phenomenon in the whole of the Niger-Delta…there is nothing to write home about in the Niger-Delta Development Commission (NDDC) board or any other board, including the OMPADEC which was short-lived. Sadly, lives of the people of the Niger-Delta have never been impacted upon, as the people are living in squalor and abject poverty.

What is your prediction?
I am seeing that the Niger-Delta problem will continue until government directly handles its responsibility, by providing adequate infrastructural development. Besides, government must ensure that the criminal elements pretending to be part of the Niger-Delta struggle should be dealt with.

Sir, why did you abandoned your responsibility in your kingdom or are you on self-exile?
I am not on self exile. I decided to leave the area because naturally, I don’t believe in struggling for anything that could be termed as a do-or-die affair. Since I know that as long as I stay there the more problem I will have because I will not tolerate those attitude of cheating the community. I think it is just common sense that one has to keep away, close your eyes on those things rather than being part of the corrupt system.

You see corruption in the country is so much that one person will like to be rich while others will be begging him to feed. That is not African ideology. We used to be our brother’s keeper, but today, it is not so.

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Fay(Katy, Texas, US)says...

Actually translates to bravehearted.