12 November 2013, Sweetcrude, Port Harcourt – “How can you justify cutting off a hungry stranger’s arm for stealing apples?” the African scholar shot at the Arabian Prince who was inclined in a relaxer. The Arabian Prince looked into the coal black eyes of the scholar. A tremor started to travel up his spine. He sat up straight in his relaxer, ashamed of his weakness.
“Very easily, my friend. You see, crime, criminality, good evil and fairness are concepts that were originally sketched into the human personality by Providence. And if you can discount the simplistic philosophy that is wound around the concept of the tabularasa which at best defines man’s conscience in relation to his knowledge acquired through a particular environment, you shall find that every man who has mental capacity also has ideas of the full spectrum of morality. It is the management of good and evil that has become subject to religion, environment and previous human experience.” – A passage in the Journal of the African Scholar, an unfinished work by John Owubokiri
Without any doubts the people of Nigeria all knew that the appropriation of the rights of the oil producing states for the benefit of the republic was a theft; the removal of the people’s ability to determine the manner and extent of the exploitation of their land and the resources found in it negated the pre-nuptials that founded the Nigerian Federation. And neither the totalitarian practices of the communist regimes nor the pretences of the “benevolent” governments of “homogeneous peoples” can justify the breach of sacred agreements entered into before the formation of the Nigerian Republic.
Isaac Adaka Boro’s seven day war, the activism of Kenule Beeson Saro _ Wiwa and the unrest in the Niger Delta that occurred in this last decade are all eloquent indications that the denial of the Niger Delta peoples to their environmental peace, social stability and predictability, self determination and rights to manage their own resources and space was a monstrous breach of the laws they had negotiated and subscribed to. For the records, the agitation in the Niger Delta for resource control was not a simple drive for the selfish enjoyment of one’s own resources alone. It was reasoned by the intellectuals in the movement at the time that any party who had the gumption to deny another the ownership of his own resources and destroy the peace of his environment could retain rights to dictate the religion and future of the party he had so easily denied.
Not up to six years after the guns of the Niger Delta were muffled by the heavy din of security, surveillance and monitoring contracts awarded to the boy-soldiers who were prepared to publish their identities as against the intellectual strategists who preferred to be anonymous, content with writing cheques, communication releases and operational manuals from the lush and plush offices, boardrooms and homes, fellow pilgrims in this federalist sojourn have started to redefine the future character of Nigerian’s presidency to exclude non _ Muslims and non _ Northerners! Next, it would be another issue of no less importance until our lives have been totally eclipsed by a stranger who makes no distinction between his own party and an invitation to one but sees everything and everyone in his path as the promised booty of his religious tradition.
The amnesty proffered to the militant youths was to achieve a truce in order to create the environment for constructive engagement with the people who had been denied for decades by the Nigerian state but some ingenious civil servant thought up the idea of divvying up the ranks of the Niger Delta population by creating multi _ millionaires of the field commanders, young and materialistic desperados, whose loyalties being shallow and wound around the immediate imperatives of bread and butter, disavowed the cause and thereby adjourned the final resolution of the Niger Delta question sine die!
Injustice is like an infected body of cells in the body. One can remove the infection by cauterising the affected cells or by applying a known remedy of antibiotics. Appeasing or removing the smallest unit of cells in the infected mass is a wasteful exercise since the infection would still spread and reclaim its territory. The federal government policy of appeasing Ateke Tom, Asari Dokubo, Tom Pullo, etc is an exercise in the momentary dousing off the embers of justice. Someday, even when the oil and gas resources of the people of the Niger Delta no longer count in matters of National development, the people will rise again and demand their place and their heritage within the commonwealth of Nigeria.