NIGER DELTA: A Wish For Peace At Christmas
Atâyi Babs Opaluwah
Niger Delta, a region sequestered in the South-South geo-political zone of Nigeria is blessed with one of the biggest oil reserves on the planet with over 34 billion of black gold tucked under its voluptuous belly. It is home to some of Africa’s poorest people and probably the region with the worst environmental destruction and degradation on earth. It is also one region that has attracted a quantum of attention in national and international discourse ostensibly due to the fact that whilst other regions in Nigeria share the benefits of enhanced national revenue accrued from oil gas, only the impoverished people of the Niger Delta bear the burden of hosting the products that sustain the largely undiversified economy. The region is grossly neglected and maltreated in the distribution of infrastructures and human development opportunities.
The colossal indifference of successive Governments to redress these anomalies and promote national harmony, peace, justice and fairness in a pluralistic society like ours has created the present situation of disruptive restiveness in the region occasioned by an ever-increasing army of militant Youths with a rabid predilection for violence. This has been manifested through kidnapping of oil workers and expatriates, vandalising oil installations, general insecurity of lives and property, and many other vices.
Nonetheless the above paradox which graphically personifies the Niger Delta of today, the region is not and cannot be insulated from the merriment, glee, jolliness and conviviality that this yuletide brings. For the Christians, Christmas period presents wonderful opportunities to ruminate and reflect on the birth of ‘The Prince of Peace’ who came into the world as an effusion of a divine gift by God at this very period two millennia ago. For everybody, it marks the end of a usually eventful year and an occasion to be glad and exchange fraternities and gifts. Thus, Christmas joy is made of magic moments shared together, warm and gentle time of love, peace and memories forever. The import of the above will not be lost on the Niger Delta as its inhabitants are now evermore ready to march into the New Year with the glad tidings of peace, peace and peace!
Moreover, in the light of the cultural homogenisation and globalisation that characterised the world in the wake of an emerging global socio-political culture, peace, above all things, has now become the measure of modern civilisation. As can be seen in the current international trend, peace has become a blueprint for the future and the standard behaviour for acceptance in the global comity of civilised societies. Also, it is a verified truism that peace remains a major sine qua non to the meaningful development and transformation of any society and the Niger Delta will not be an exception.
As yuletide bells begin to jingle and wangle, let the peace that emanates therefrom flow and touch every Niger Deltan, every Oil Company, and every other stakeholder in the region that they will act with integrity, serve with love and work for peace. May the joy and peace of this season bring to an end, every armed conflict, hostage-taking, oil installation vandalisation, bomb explosions, and electoral violence. May the Federal Government begin to live up to its billing as it concerns enhanced Federal Government presence in the Niger Delta and the equitable distribution of resources and human capital development opportunities to this region.
May the Niger Delta States’ Governments begin to act responsibly and more frugally with their peoples’ resources to the overall benefit and good of the teeming Niger Delta masses who are earnestly craving for roads, housing, good schools, water, light and other social amenities that make life worth living. They are all entitled to them, not as privileges, but as RIGHTS! May monies and other resources accruable to Niger Delta States be found in tangible forms on the streets of Niger Delta and not stashed way in hidden bank vaults or channelled to the development of areas and cities other than Niger Delta or better still, diverted to service social fantasies and phoney presidential ambitions.
May the Oil Companies and Expatriates pursue peace by eschewing all forms of oppression and suppression necessitated by the heinous crimes of environmental degradation, despoliation and defacement as well as the humiliation and subjugation of man by fellow man. They will begin to see their hosts as partners-in-progress and their host communities as vast lands for infrastructural transformation and development. They will begin to see the creeks as veritable sources of communal prosperity and progress, and not merely as icons of crude exploitation and mindless rape.
May the Militant Youths who hitherto understood only, the language of violence, begin to chatter and rant in the time-tested language of peace as the oil companies begin to generate employment opportunities for them as well as cultivate the culture of environmental sanctity. May the youths understand and work with the knowledge that the sword works best only when it is sheathed; that the mythical giant up in the hill loses his power when he slumbers down into daylight. They will also know that discretion is always the best part of valour as impatience and direct attacks waste valuable resources and energy without accomplishing much. The youths will learn that survival depends largely on their words and actions, as men of superior ability are usually not those with extraordinary power or reckless courage but are mainly those who learn how not to drive or control a situation through confrontation or emotions.
May the Organised Civil Society, Faith Based and Community Based Organisations aggregate their efforts and work for a peaceful Niger Delta of our dreams. A Niger Delta devoid of all societal ills! May they, through their advocacy and networking, promote good governance, foster and create avenues for social interactions, vocational trainings, skills acquisition, and empowerment as worthy bulwarks against illiteracy, restiveness and violence. They will advocate an accurate international understanding of the challenges facing the Niger Delta, encourage efficient Youth Policy formulation and implementation and mobilise Niger Delta Youths to face emerging global challenges with a view to positioning them for the UN’s World Programme of Action for Youths in the 21st century. May they toe the path of Academy Associates Peace Works (AAPW) in drawing the youths out of violence into demobilisation, re-orientation, re-training, and constructive engagement in our society.
The Niger Delta Peoples Volunteer Force (NDVF), The Niger Delta Vigilantes, Movement for the Emancipation of Niger Delta (MEND), The South-South Youth Leaders Forum, Supreme Egbesu Assembly (SEA) Ijaw Youth Council (IYC), Bush Boys, Aso House of Boys, Italian 2001, Dey Bam Boys, KKK, Greenlanders, and the Icelanders will shift their mentality, turn their spears into ploughs and their arrows into pruning hooks for the attainment of better tomorrow for the Niger Delta. They will unite this Christmas as they have nothing to lose but their chains.
As we fęte in unison, in appreciation of the peace that is come in the Niger Delta through this Christmas, may the creeks and the pipelines burst with unquantifiable barrels of peace and happiness and may the concomitant effects of progress, development and prosperity surge and reverberate from Brass to Buguma, Oredo to Ogbia, Sapele to Sagbama, Ogoni to Ogoja, Uyo to Ugep, Andoni to Akoko Edo, Ikah to Ibionu Ibom, Owan to Oshimili, Eket to Etsako, Aganebode to Amassoma, Obudu to Okpokuma, Ovia to Oloibiri, Ikot Ekpene to Ikom and Kaiama to Kolokuma. MAY THERE BE PEACE!
Atâyi Babs Opaluwah, (firstname.lastname@example.org)
Langue Consulting Ltd
58, Associated Estate
Impresit Camp – Abuja