Farouk Martins Aresa
The voiceless survivals and silent majority could care less about longevity of oil politics. They discuss the voices of MEND followed by those of OPC, MASSOB and Boko Haram demanding contracts and compensation. Some at National Conference want theirs written in constitution. Even the Afenifere went to Abuja claiming marginalization while Ohanaeze want reparations from civil war. Watch out for Arewa demand. Poor Nigeria with her loyal voiceless citizens!
Militias plant anger into everyone so that we can scatter helter-skelter; it will not prevent war. Violence: either unites or breaks a country into Somalian pieces. If you want oil income, trade or negotiate with 99 year safe access lease to your land. The focus of Boko Haram like MEND is on spoils of war they want to create. It worked for Usman dan Fodio to capture our Hausa bothers, but not work for Maitatsine or for Moroccan Army of 1591 that wanted Songhai gold.
The North and South need to join forces and use that anger to defeat these malignant cancers in our land. If they can kidnap their own children, sisters, mothers and fathers within reach, we must not give in to them so that they can get more. If a region needs oil resources from Niger Delta, they must work hard in exchange. Yes, land is also a viable legal exchange, even on 99 years lease, as long as peace and security are guaranteed in any region as practiced in the West.
No peaceful existence, trade or safe access to land, no oil money. We must barter our resources to sustain our future. Ijaw nation within Urhobo, Itsekiri, Anang, Ibiobio and others can’t unite, a wishful thinking, to fight invading Army. The oil income will never last or be useful forever, we need a country not only in times of prosperity but also during hard time to fight every fanatic. If oil ran dry today, common folks would rely on one another. It is the meaning of commonwealth.
We have leaders from both North and South whose only contribution is oil politics and how to get more into their pockets. This oil income pursuit has become the major problem and some would argue led to the civil war. Just as Niger Delta wanted out of Biafra; Ijaw cannot lure Urhobo, Itsekiri, Ibibio and others into a nation since they are not the only ethnic group in Delta.
We have been through a war before and most of those that fought and saw wars never wish it on Nigerians or anyone in general. What is different about Nigeria compared to all other civil wars is that until oil became a promising commodity, we have got along relatively well but still with a few regional fights far in time and periods. After the declaration of war as No Victor No Vanquished, spontaneously “soldiers from both warring sides embrace in tears after the war”.
Nigerians have never, will never stop loving. Stories of people hiding those they consider enemy from soldiers and hostilities started coming out. Mind you, just as much as story of inhumanity. But it was surprising that people on both sides of the war could hide and feed “enemies” inside their homes at the risk of their own lives knowing what could happen to them if they got caught.
In spite of a few misgivings, inter-ethnic marriages survived on both sides. The war period was a trying time for this types of marriages because some people believe oppressors do not mind taking the oppressed as wives. Unknown to them, were discreet powerful women that took husbands from the oppressed. If anything, these marriages solidified both the oppressed and the oppressors. After the war, we heard so many trying stories and also kindness on both sides.
Ojukwu’s grand return after 13 years to Lagos was just spectacular. The whole City stopped. If this guy was a rebel, it was a good day to admire and be one. He toured the whole Country visiting those he missed for those 13 years and reacquainted with colleagues and friends inside and outside the Army. Every party wanted him to join them but he was wisely counseled and begged not to join any of them and remain neutral. He could have easily played the kingmaker.
Despite the war and more unfriendly religious fanatics in the North; many of the initiations and propagation of business enterprises at home and abroad still sought Nigerians from North and South in particular, and Africans to collaborate with since most of their customers are Nigerians and Africans. We learned population gives us a wide potential customer base as an advantage.
Despite denial of basic life, Nigerians will still rely on one another. It is not that we do not have some people that actually hate one another but most Nigerians are at worst polite and at best kind to other ethnic groups. The hatred created by sub ethnic group related to another is more violent in neighboring communities than amongst separate and far ethnic groups. In fact some of these detachments are so wide; the same ethnic group may refuse to marry one another.
Case in point was this lady that raised her daughter almost alone abroad because the father was estranged. During graduation, we were all looking forward to see the mother and daughter. It was a shock when our niece told us her friend’s mother would not be coming because she did not approve the boyfriend of her daughter from a neighboring community. Any other Nigerian could have asked for her daughter in marriage but that one, from the same ethnic group.
Interethnic marriage is a given. In the first place, the new generation learns but does not inherit their parents’ prejudice. They will marry anyone including any African. Some children here or abroad will even marry outside of their race. There was this mother warning the son not to fool around certain blacks because they were trouble makers. He quizzed: Mum, all of them?
Yet, some children that have never seen war, were not old enough during the war or were not born during the war are beating their chest calling for one. The scary part of it is that, all regions of Nigerian are now fed up, calling for separation while their young militias are calling for war. They have never seen or fought one, so they want their own war.
Those from the West claimed they have never been part of Nigeria and have never formed alliance at the center. Ijaw claim that they can survive as a nation with their oil income. The North claimed they were ready to stand alone before Azikiwe and Awolowo begged them into the Country. The East does not want anything to do with all these because they should have let them go as Biafra when they seceded. But they relish their new friendship with Ijaw.
However, the amount of technical expertise and equipment needed to safely extract oil and turn it to marketable gas and petrol is beyond local control. Nevertheless, when international companies are involved, the real exploiter, local communities need their sovereignty as a country for an agreement. If Niger Delta can achieve that, Nigeria will not be needed to dictate term and conditions of what percentage of the income the Niger Delta community gets.