John Owubokiri

05 November 2012, Sweetcrude, Port Harcourt – The people of the Niger Delta enjoy a certain uniqueness which keeps them within the mental borders of their own world. The dialects, patois, speech delivery styles and voice inflections of the people of this region, express for them, an existence which approximates to a world or a wholesome existence limited by the value systems they have adopted over years of living within a gold-rush territory. However, events have from time immemorial etched some importance on the region and her people. Last week in the city of Port Harcourt this columnist jettisoned a very well-researched article for this one because of the poor power supply situation in his neighbourhood. With the shortage of supply in petroleum products such as diesel and petrol, housewives lamented the loss of food items and harmony in their homes.

From the Via Nationale in Rome, Bashorun JK Randle reports that the Holy Father is saddened by the killing of poor folk by religious fundamentalists in Nigeria. Among other matters that may have interested the Pope had his attention been invited is the current demand by the leadership of the religious sect, Boko Haram to discuss terms of disarmament with the Nigerian authorities in Saudi Arabia, the headquarters of Islam. The Pope may have countered that talks between the Movement for the Emancipation of the Niger Delta (MEND) and Umaru Yar’Adua’s federal government did not hold in Rome but within Nigerian borders. The one advantage the federal team shall go to the negotiations with wherever they finally take place, is the knowledge that Boko Haram asked for peace talks only because they had reached the end of the road in supplies, strategy and ideas of survival generally.

Also last week the Niger Delta was shaken by news that the Federal Government had released monies from the Escrow Account which had been contended between Rivers and Bayelsa State apparently without legal justification which would have come per the Judgment of the Supreme Court in Suit No. SC/106/2009 between the Attorney General of Rivers State Vs. The Attorney General of Bayelsa State & Anor, by the publication of the 12th Edition of the Administrative Map of Nigeria. The perceived victims of this premature move, the Kalabari Kingdom of Rivers State cried out to the whole world at the conspiracy to deny them their fair share of nature’s bounty.

In Abuja the federal capital territory comes news that Nuhu Ribadu’s Petroleum Revenue Special Task Force is only now prepared to submit its report to the Presidency, giving the finger to the report circulated the week before as a document with unclear origins. Two members of the Task Force however confessed that when the copies issued to the office of the Minister for Petroleum Resources for input was not returned after two months (not an unusual occurrence with madam) they panicked and leaked the report as it had been submitted to that office. Also committee members vowed they had to act to stop Chairman Ribadu from acting prematurely by inviting the EFCC to investigate companies that had been indicted by the report – a matter not included in its terms of reference. Haba Mallam, that is what they call ‘sweet body’ in the Niger Delta. The operations of that crime watchdog, the EFCC are becoming worrisome. The record so far is that the EFCC has recorded less than 10% success in prosecuting crimes to conviction. Hiring lawyers of high ‘visibility’ and low competence the EFCC has eaten the shame of losing nearly 95% of her cases in court. We in the Niger Delta and I believe in the larger Nigeria expect better.

Far away in the United States of America, Willard Mitt Romney bungled his way into National reckoning by just going on with his challenge against incumbent, Barack Hussein Obama, whose well run campaign has wondered at their inability to contain the soaring numbers of Romney’s supporters both in the polls and among independent voters in the contest for America’s presidency. A failed foreign trip, evasive tax commitments and a damaging tape revealing his contempt for America’s dependents all failed to leash the Republican challenger known more for his lack of commitment to a known position on national issues than a sterling performance at the first presidential debate between him and the president. Of interest to the Niger Delta is the duo’s commitment to funding and developing alternative sources of energy for American industries and private consumers as either side of the coin portends an aggressive production of America’s federal fields and the devaluation of the oil and gas wells dotting the Niger Delta by alternative energy sources even before they are regained from the federal government.

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