Edwin Clark, an Ijaw leaderEditor’s note: Chief Edwin Clark, an Ijaw leader said the military approach is not the best solution for the deepening crisis with Niger Delta Avengers, a militant group that managed to shut down oil terminals and caused a fall in Nigeria’s oil production to its lowest level in twenty years.
In this piece, Okanga Agila, a traditional warrior and advocate for social justice has written an open letter to Chief Edwin Clark, an Ijaw leader on the deployment of some military troops to Niger Delta. He said Clark created a country where ethnic, religious and primordial sentiments guide the reasoning of our youths which should not be so.
It has has been just a little over one year since when you led the charge to threaten that Nigeria would burn if your godson, then President Goodluck Jonathan, loses an election for which he had spent five years working hard to lose. The threats by your esteemed self and your lackeys was that the country would be rendered ungovernable should your godson’s opponent win.
I will return to the subject of these threats and their subsequent manifestations. Your godson did lose and the plan was activated for hell to break lose.
Former President Goodluck Jonathan did not lose re-election because he is a bad person; he lost the election because he was surrounded by people like you, who reduced governance to an Ijaw vendetta mission.
You constituted yourself into the defacto president while the man given the mandate by Nigerians was reduced to merely a mouthpiece for you and others who suddenly think that the auspicious chance of having a president from the region producing the crude oil was a licence to trample the rest of us.
Your youths have now be conditioned to see the other ethnic nationalities of this federation as having no right to be alive.
Not once in those years that you held Jonathan hostage did you think to prevail on him to overwhelm the Niger Delta with disproportionate infrastructural development.
Had you so advised him and he heeded your counsel, other geo-political regions would have accused him of sectionalism but the things lacking in the area today would have been provided.
Instead, your counsel to him was to service militants and warlords with slush fund to bankroll unsustainable lifestyles that you yourself were part of.
Age can play tricks with memory, so in the event you have forgotten you may want to contact the finance department of the Transcorp to tell you the cost of the presidential suite in which you stayed perpetually during the Jonathan era. The bill for that alone would have uplifted a community in the creeks.
You live this odiously opulent life of locking down hotel suites when you have your palace in Asokoro, Abuja, which means your stay there is not the product of being destitute; it was a lifestyle choice that many of the militants on amnesty dole copied to perfection, it was all about collecting huge funds and go on that ego trip of feeling better entitled than other Nigerians. When you did stay in your Asokoro residence it was to plot against Nigeria under the guise of rooting for your godson.
What is painful is that you and your likes have created the Nigeria you want, where ethnic, religious and primordial sentiments and not reason guide the reasoning of our youths.
This perhaps explains why it was so easy for the youths to accept weapons and explosives to carry out the threats championed by their elders who didn’t know better in 2015.
On the erroneous impression that the government would be crippled by the sabotage of oil and gas infrastructure, the militants are almost about done with blowing up all vital installations and the government remains in place while people in other geo-political zones are already getting used to imported petrol and the economy, though limping, is beginning to wean itself off crude oil revenue.
It is the environment and people of the Niger Delta that will thus suffer for the destruction by the militants.
The caring government of President Buhari is mindful of this and was prompt in bringing in the military to dislodge the so called militants and there has not been anything by way of support from the elders in the region.
Instead of calling the militants to order and making them understand that a peaceful Niger Delta is needed for the Ijaw nation to make progress, you and the other elders have failed to show the needed leadership.
The leaders of that region have at some point tried to use the militancy as bargaining tool to stop investigations and prosecutions of your members that stole in the Jonathan years.
Considering that the myth that an Ijaw cannot be prosecuted for embezzling oil revenue runs deep one can easily sympathise with that kind of warped mindset, whose proponents forget that the money in the national tills include taxes paid by the rest of us, even if it is only ten percent.
Chief, if using the militants to negotiate safe passage for treasury thieves is sad, sadder still is your leading the other elders to want to get on the gravy train by riding on the criminality being committed by your youths.
With the leaders of that zone, you repeatedly demanded that the military be withdrawn from the Niger Delta as a precondition for dialogue. You have now gone the whole hog to take ridiculous to a new low.
When you convened a meeting of the Elders and Leaders of Thoughts of Ijaw ethnic nationality in the Niger Delta region of Nigeria over the weekend, your script kind of reached its climax and what follows from here on would be a succession of anti-climax.
Your meeting was to openly demand your cut in whatever goodies negotiation could bring to your boys.
Possibly because you also know that it may be too late to rein in the psychopaths you have unleashed on the country, you are already afraid that you would soon lose these damaged goods to any military operations that could result from a failed negotiation. You were clearly quoted as saying, “That (dialogue and military operation) will not work.
These children are our children and we cannot fold our hands when they are being attacked and pretend not to notice. We must be involved in what government wants to do.”
In this I advise Sir, that you and other Niger Delta Elders take a cue from the North East and their misadventure with Boko Haram.
Yourself and the other Niger Delta Elders should ask Borno Elders what happened when they initially thought the boys that were once running errands for them must be protected from the consequences of waging an insurrection.
The elders once wanted the military out of the North East but today they can brief their South-South counterparts better on how not to allow criminality thrive.
They know how their sons later turned against them and all others. The same militants doing the bidding of the elders today will at some point turn against the Clarks of the region and others of that region. As things stand your options are limited.
Gani Adams, sectional leader of the Oodua People’s Congress (OPC) apparently is unable to execute the suggestion you gave him in those heated days of electioneering, even if he tries it he lacks the backing of the Yoruba nation.
Save for some miscreants that are deluded enough to attack security operatives and those using separatist agenda to defraud their own people with the lies that they want to buy ammunition and bullets, the South East’s belief in unity of Nigeria grows daily with talks of restructuring being driven by intellectual input.
This leaves the Niger Delta, and only the portion of that region enslaved to you, being the only region that is recalcitrant and waging war against the nation while demanding payment to stop attacks.
My dear Chief Edwin Clark, the time to contain the militants that the elders and leaders of your region armed to harm Nigeria is now.
Even as the talks of negotiation go on it is important there is a military deployment in the region both as a show of strength strategy and to be on standby in case of the splinter groups that would break out to start attacking elders, leaders and people of the area once a deal is agreed with government.
It may seem you have the militants under control right now but if you look closely you would have yourself noticed that you are losing grip of them.
There is only one way that this will end on a good note for the innocent ones in this situation. Stop kicking against military deployment based on self-interest and greed.
Allow the military to deploy to the Niger Delta since there is still time to clean up the mess that you and other elders created. Be so kind to your youths, agree to the deployment of military in the Niger Delta. I do hope you will forgive my seeming insolence in writing you in this manner.
My culture places the burden on me to be respectful of elders at all times but the issue at hand is a dire one and someone has to break rank to allow you see the futility of keeping the military out of your creeks.