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Monday 24 August 2015

Niger Delta Amnesty is a dupe, it should be rejected Now

As a matter of fact, civilized people do not subscribe to violence, but when loud voice is refused to be heard a loud bomb will be heard. Everyone is happy because Nigeria is rich with enormous oil and gas deposits; one of the largest in the world. Year in year out the federal government plan its big budget almost entirely based on the estimated oil revenue for the fiscal year. And then the commissioned foreign oil companies continue buzzing around the region like starved vicious buzzards on a carcass of a dead horse. Through out the year they drill with their greatest strength and skill so to suck as much as they can out of the place before the real owners wake up and stage a proper resistance. On their way home with the loot, they pass by Abuja and cast crumbs big enough to quench the taste of the official dupes, the rest they take home to develop their own countries while where the oil is found remain neglected. It has continued like this since crude oil was discovered in Niger Delta about five decades ago. No serious question has been asked about the environmental consequences of crude oil drill where fishing and farming are the main livelihood of the people that dwell in the area. What happens to the crops when crude oil is removed from the soil? What happens to the fishes when crude oil spills into the River? Of course, one will say these are old jests that have been sang as songs again and again, and monetary compensation has been made. But has it ever been realistically considered what these places will look like in the next two hundred years when the oil wells run dry? Those who are compensated now will they still be the people who will be living in these places in the next two hundred years? Or will they possibly preserve the monetary compensation for the far future generations who will be dwelling in the land when the mineral nutrients are exhausted? There is one dangerous side of negotiating this compensation which the Niger Delta indegenes seems to be oblivious of; its obvious they are not conscious of the longtime impact of the crass activities of these foreigners in their land which is capable of putting their communities to extinct. They seems to be so satisfied with the money they are given now to the point it blindfolds them to the disservice they are rendering to their offspring who will not be in the position of receiving monetary compensation when the oil is gone and their natural source of livelihood is also gone.
The gravest danger in the Niger Delta is not just the negative impact of crude oil spill on the agriculture and the aquatic life but the possibility of permanent destruction of the region. What happens when the land and the River become incapable of supporting animal and plant lives? Let it be very clear to those who are currently negotiating compensation today that if these unscrupulous foreigners are allowed to continue this nefarious drilling as they wish that the whole Niger Delta region will eventually be barren. Let them have this at the back of their mind whenever they sit on the negotiating table talking about oil drill in their land that whatever amount of money they are giving now will certainly finish but the impact of the crude oil drill will never finish in their land. Those foreigners know this, though they will never mention it.

The cruelest of it all is the insidious system which makes it possible for the oil wells to be owned and controlled by people whom the negative environmental impact can never be affected neither now nor in future. Record shows that eighty percent of the oil wells in the Niger Delta are owned by Northerners who are situated over six hundred miles away. The cities, Abuja and Lagos, which are beautifully built mainly by the oil revenue are situated about four hundred miles away. And these cities are owned by people who have neither land nor cultural connection with the Niger Delta but have eighty percent control of the wealth that comes from there. Thus, they see Niger Delta as a farm and a toilet where they can come, harvest, defecate, and go home. What happens next is none of their business.

Ask yourselves, now you have agreed on receiving monthly stipend of peanut and scholarships, for how long shall it last? This monthly pay is it paid to all the families in the Niger Delta? Does every youth in the region a beneficiary of these scholarships or is it only for those who where engaged in the violent activities on the oil pipelines? Let it be known that this deal with the federal government is a total sell out. They used it to shut up the voices of the outspoken so that they will continue their exploitation without hindrance. It is an official bribe, and those who accepted this kind of settlements are guilty of betrayal. Their position is more of a conspiracy with the foes against their own people because the devastation of the region does not affect them alone, it affects everyone in the region, therefore amelioration of any kind must include every living thing that dwells in the region. The unborn children as well as the wildlife must be put into consideration when negotiating any deal that will ultimately affect their well being. Therefore, taking monthly salary and accepting sparing scholarships do not settle the situation by any means. And those who believe they do are as guilty as those foreigners who commit these hideous crimes against the people of Niger Delta, and shall never escape the natural punishment for selfishly betraying their own people.
These are high points that must be considered when negotiating with those concerned: First, the title 'Niger Delta Militants' must be dropped. You must cancel the impression that they are negotiating with militants or a ragtag army. It gives them a psychological edge over you. You must make it clear you are professionally negotiating a business on equal terms, and every point raised must be deliberately debated based on evidence on ground and the natural logic that rules the circumstance. Second, the allocation of oil wells to individuals either from the region or outside the region must be canceled. The oil wells must be owned by the people, totally controlled by the government, monitored by activists and private entities from the region that have no direct stake on the venture but directly represent the public interest. If you cannot have control over the natural resources in your domain it is prudent to prevent others from having it, because they will never act on your interest rather on their own interest to your detriment. And it necessarily doesn't have to be violently unless there is no other means. Third, and most importantly, there must be an indigenous sponsored
scientific study of longtime effect of oil drill in the region by a neutral body and effective practical measures which prevent or control the negative impact must be put in place before digging oil well anywhere in the region. Fourth, the main compensation will be the establishment of a trust fund which guarantees free sound education to every child born in the region till next hundred years. If they cannot afford it they can simply quit. When negotiating a business, you have the right to walk away if the presented terms do not suit you. Unfortunately, in this case the buyer tells the seller how much he must pay for his goods, if he refused to sell the buyer kills the seller for it and take the goods by force. This is cruelty without measure. This is what is happening in the Niger Delta today. Those oil companies do not give a damn about the people's lives in the region. An eye witness once narrated how somebody from a helicopter threw fire into a licking oil pipeline and burnt more than a thousand people who were scoping fuel from the licking pipe in the creek of Niger Delta. What explanation can you give to such meanness? Those people that were burnt are the real owners of that fuel, who were deprived but saw the opportunity to pick the crumbs of what is rightfully theirs and got killed by foreigners who saw them as low lives that worth less than fuel. They did this with the hope none of them will come out alive and tell the story. The mainstream media controlled by the federal government shielded them and blamed the fire on faulty motorcycle of one of the oil thieves which sparked it was being kick start. This was witnessed by a farmer who watched the helicopter from a distance. This is just one out of a million meanness meted to the people of Niger Delta by those oil companies in conjunction with the federal government. The amnesty is another one.

By Kelechi Nwagbara

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