MILITANTS, EX-MILITANTS AND NON-MILITANTS IN THE NIGER DELTA.
By: Comr. Godgift
The agitation for better life in the Niger Delta region is dated back to the 1960s before the Nigeria Civil War in 1967. These agitations that even led to the carrying of fire arms against the then central government were to ensure better lives for the people of Niger Delta with a number of distinct minority ethnic nationalities with the Ijaws inclusive.
The agitation then led to the creation of Rivers and Bendel States when the regional system of government was abolished and states were created in 1967. But today it has Bayelsa, Rivers, Delta, Cross River, Akwa Ibom, Edo and Ondo.
In spite of the creation of states, the people of the Niger Delta have always felt cheated considering the huge resources the region provides for the country in relation to the level of development the region has.
This feeling has made very brave people of the region to continue the agitations.
However, in the current democratic era, the agitation became very serious as youths take up arms against government in the form of destroying oil and gas facilities. The region became very hostile and the production of oil and gas was greatly affected as the militants seek for a fair deal in the Niger Delta.
To curb the agitation and cool nerves of the agitations, the President Umaru Musa Yar'adua led federal government went into an agreement with the agitators a few years ago and they were all granted presidential amnesty and were branded ex-militants.
Today the government has tried for the ex-militants who are our brothers. I hold them in very high esteem because they were able to tell the world that the region that lays the golden egg cannot benefit from the same egg. Government has been paying each ex-militants a minimum of Sixty-five thousand naira monthly, some are sent to conventional Schools home and abroad while others were sent to acquire vocational skills. This is superb and i appreciate the federal government for that and congratulate the ex-militants that have utilized the opportunity.
But in spite of that I have some worries. First, what is the level of development in the region and secondly what happens to the people that are not militants and or ex-militants.
There is no gain saying the Niger Delta is not developed for it is a fact. Though the agitations have led to the establishment of the Niger Delta Development Commission, the development of the region is still in a pitiable state. There are no good roads, electricity, good Schools, hospital, job opportunities to mention but a few. This poor state of underdevelopment has led to high rate of social vices in the region. Thus, the amnesty program has not brought the desired development of the region.
Also, the non militants are not considered. The question I ask myself is, are the non militants not part of the Niger Delta? These non militants ought to be given a fair treatment. If everyone takes up arms against the Government, the situation could be more critical. And the non militants see themselves as fools for not fighting their own government because they wanted to maintain peace. This neglect of non militants has made some groups coming up against government because it seems that violence pays more than peace in our dear nation Nigeria after all the holy bible says in Mathew 11:12 that "… the kingdom of God suffereth violence and violent takes it by force".
It is on that note that the government should as a matter of urgency look to the plights of the people who are non-militants. We have our aged parents, the widows, the children, the vibrant youths who belong in this category. We have oil producing communities that are worst developmentally compared to their counterparts that do not produce oil. If Abuja is built like that, can't such cities be built in the Niger Delta?
Conclusively, I am of the opinion that the non militants in the Niger Delta be given adequate attention for the fact that they constitute a greater and integral part of the Niger Delta. They equally needs stipends, jobs, education to mention but a few. While I urge the government to continue with her amnesty programme for our brothers the ex-militants.
God bless Nigeria
God bless Niger Delta
God bless Non Militants
Comrade Ouseibai Seperegha Godsgift M.