I just heard that the Nigerian authorities are offering amnesty for the Niger Delta militants as a way of resolving the current crisis that has crippled the region and the productivity of the whole nations as well. The Federal Government is hoping that in two months about ten thousand militants will turn in their weapons and go in for a rehabilitation program in which they will be paid a $433 monthly allowance. After reading on a BBC website, all I could scream out was “are you kidding me?” Is this the last desperate effort of a government that has run out of ideas on how to deal with a situation that they have allowed to become more complicated? I had written a piece some months ago on why I think this conflict could as well result in a civil war if not managed properly. I guess now that these militant are having the ‘liver’ to go as far as the Atlas Cove in Lagos to cause havoc, it is becoming clear the magnitude of threat which their continued existence poses to the security of the nation. In any case, I have a few things to say about this.
How sensible is it for a country like Nigeria to negotiate with terrorists? You mean a few young men supported by some parachute wearing politicians sitting in Abuja and secretly manipulating the events in the Niger Delta can hold a whole nation to ransom and yet we claim to have a strong military? There is something terribly wrong here. We have paid them ransoms severally, and none of that money has been spent to settle what causes they claim to be fighting for; the emancipation of the region. How many of these militants have built a school or constructed a road? It is obvious they are fighting for their bellies under the disguise of a just cause, yet we are negotiating with people who have killed innocent Nigerians. If a whole nation can be brought to its knees to negotiating with those that bully its citizens and its very existence, then something has gone wrong. Do we not think that we are legitimizing these criminals?
Who is deceiving who here? You think these hardened men will go and turn in their weapons for a meager salary? This is a huge joke. I myself will not be that stupid when I have no assurance that the government will not rescind on their promise and go for a crackdown. We seem to have forgotten in a hurry that former Governor of Rivers State, Peter Odili, once paid out over 200,000 naira for every weapon which a militant gave up. Did that solve anything? They will simply drop their worn out armory and get paid for it, while their illegal bunkers bring in fresh supplies of sophisticated armed consignments. It is reported that these militants are supported by some government officials in their oil bunkering business, which brings in about $50 Million daily. How on earth will they abandon such beauties for the impoverishments the government is offering them? There are high officials who are enjoying from the spoils and I believe even some at the State level are heavy beneficiaries of such largesse.
So there is something wrong with our approach as a country in solving this crisis. At times like this you really wonder if all this would or could have happened under a military regime. I doubt this. I am not advocating for a militocracy anymore, their excesses have almost bedridden us, but I am strong proponent for a hard stance against terrorism. I cannot imagine what could have happened if the US government went about negotiating with the Somali pirates. I have always ask what our Navy doing that they cannot create a water barricade to make sure no illegal bunker carries oil out and carries guns in. They can effectively dry out the arms supply of these evil men. I know that the solution is not farfetched and I have heard even military personnel concur to this.
So what’s the issue? We are simply playing politics with a dangerous situation, until we create monsters of young boys and innocent citizens continue to die. We must realize that once these men have been trained in arms bearing and gun totting, recovery into a normal life is a difficult process. What will make it even worse is the point that you can’t pay them what they earned and you can’t guarantee the quality of life they had as terrorist. These are men that must be removed from society and kept under close watch.
So amnesty for terrorist? If so the terrorists in the North should also be granted amnesty and retrained as well, so we know that this is a national policy. Big Joke!