The Niger Delta Avengers (NDA), a militant group in the oil rich Niger Delta area of Nigeria, which started bombing oil and gas facilities in January 2016 and have succeeded in adding more woes to the ongoing economic crisis, have continued to avoid dialogue as they insist on their unrealistic demands.
The seemingly faceless group has demanded for, among other things, the creation of a Sovereign State of Niger Delta. They also demanded for the presence of the international community during any negotiation.
Despite several efforts by the Federal Government to reach out to them, the group through its spokesperson Brig. Gen Mudoch Agbinibo, has refuted Federal Government’s claim to be engaged in any dialogue and has continued to claim responsibility for various attacks on oil and gas installations.
Demanding for a sovereign state is not an issue, but the manner in which the demand is made is the problem.
Calls for independence are not made by bombing and destruction but through protests and negotiations. Using the South-Sudan 2011 independence as an example, it was only after referendum, that the country was created.
The Niger Delta Avengers do not in any way represent the voice of the entire region, as many Niger-Deltans have often time condemned their actions. Most of the elite do not buy their idea or their modus operandi.
Creation of a sovereign state has to be by the consensus of the majority after which peaceful protests and negotiations will be carried out. Without people power, every action is tantamount to wasted time and effort.
They also demanded for the release of former National Security Adviser Colonel Dasuki who has been under Federal Government custody over $2.1bn arms scam. The case is the biggest corruption case of Buhhari’s administration. The question is what has Dasukigate got to do with the plight of the Niger-Delta people, or do they think they can make any demand because of the guns they wield?
They also asked the President Muhammadu Buhari, the Department of State Security and former Bayelsa governor, Timipre Sylva, to apologise to the people of the Niger Delta and family of the late Chief DSP Alamieyesegha over his death. Another example of their incoherence.
Leaving many confused as to whether they are sincere freedom fighters or just a form of political mercenaries employed by some disgruntled individuals who for selfish reasons are not happy with the present Government. They keep meddling into politics from a biased perspective or from an opposition angle.
Maybe they should take a cue from the anti-apartheid movement in South-Africa. It took mass demonstrations, marches, alternative press and advertising, singing, dancing, and chanting freedom slogans, religious pilgrimages and worship services and negotiations with political officials, within a space of 80 years for the blacks to get their freedom. Many where tortured, imprisoned and some lost their lives.
That’s what agitation looks like, and not by petty politics with dynamites and bombs, destroying public infrastructure, damaging the nation’s economy and making frivolous demands.
Their predecessor, Movement for the Emancipation of the Niger Delta (MEND), whose demands included localised control of Nigeria’s oil and to secure reparations from the federal government for pollution caused by the oil industry, were able to ensure the release of Mujahid Dokubo-Asari, who was jailed and charged with treason, and Diepreye Alamieyeseigha, a former governor of Bayelsa State convicted of corruption.
Some of their members embraced amnesty, and they can also claim part of the credit for the present clean up Ogoni land project. All this were done through negotiations and presenting reasonable and logical demands.
Freedom fighters like Nelson Mandela are known for their selfless service and sacrifices and not for selfish ambitions. As for the Niger Delta Avengers, many still don’t know what they are avenging.
– Olalekan Olonilua for encomium.ng