By: Ifeanyi Izeze
The recent disclosure of the alleged sponsors of the renewed militancy in the Niger Delta region by a splinter group from the Niger Delta Avengers (NDA) would have been a welcomed development but for the many questions it threw up in the whole issue of the federal governmentâ€™s dialogue/negotiation with representatives of some militant groups in the restive oil region.
In a statement signed by its spokesperson, Cynthia Whyte, the splinter group named several former and serving governors of the South-South zone as sponsors of the Niger Delta Avengers. Those named included Governors Nyesom Wike of Rivers State and Seriaki Dickson of Bayelsa, Senator Godswill Akpabio, a former governor of Akwa Ibom State, Government Ekpemupolo (alias Tompolo), Raymond Dokpesi , the Indigenous Peoples of Biafra (IPOB), Kingsley Kuku of the Amnesty fame, Kimi Angozi, and Patrick Akpobolokemi the embattled former NIMASA boss
It was also said by The Reformed Niger Delta Avengers (RNDA) that Oyege Nimi Brown, VIP Timothy, Joshua Macaiver, Paul Bebenimibo and others are the main operatives of the NDA. Udengs Eradiri, the president of the Ijaw Youth Council (IYC), also known as Brigadier General Murdoch Agbinibo, serves as the NDAâ€™s chief spokesman. While Chief Edwin K. Clark, Tony Uranta, Daniel Alabrah, Annkio Briggs, and Olisa Metuh, a former spokesman of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) were equally named as NDAâ€™s sympathisers.
Could the essence of the allegation against some prominent politicians from the region be to proffer solutions to the ongoing crisis or score cheap political points. As said by an analyst, â€œIf the content of this story finally sticks in the mind of, unfortunately, gullible Nigerians then the â€˜squealersâ€™ would then tell Nigerians that the present administration has not succeeded in building back the economy since members of the opposition PDP, especially their top echelons from South -South have consistently and relentless worked at cross purposes with the current government by encouraging the destruction of the nationâ€™s oil facilities to cripple the economy.â€ And there seems to be some truth in this interpretation.
Walai, the folks planning and planting all these propaganda do not have two heads. A discerning mind is all that is necessary to unbundle the code. First, who is Cynthia Whyte? Is â€œhe/sheâ€ not the widely known spokesperson of MEND when the group was in armed struggle against the federal government for resource control? This alibi was to change to Jomo Gbomo after the Okah brothers were arrested and incarcerated. So is this resurrected Cythia Whyte the same person as Jomo Gbomo or a criptive apparatus hiding under the alibi of Reformed Avengers?
In every crisis/war situation, as it is in Nigeria today, propaganda could become a winning instrument. And we must have to be very careful here! Letâ€™s even unwind the sequence of events and see how it is playing out.
Curiously, the splinter group, which renamed itself Reformed Niger Delta Avengers (RNDA), emerged barely 24 hours after a sneering revelation by an online news site that the ongoing dialogue between the Federal Government and some â€œNiger Delta eldersâ€ negotiating on behalf of the militants has come to a deadlock in a dispute over the disbursement of N8 billion doles.
As reported, a number of â€œeldersâ€ from the Niger Delta area, who have been in the talks as â€œmajor stakeholders,â€ demanded N8 billion from the Buhari administration as a condition for continuing with negotiations. The elders also demanded that the money be given directly to them by the Federal Government because they donâ€™t trust the governors of the Niger Delta States to handle and disburse the funds.
â€œPresident Buhari could not honour the eldersâ€™ demands as he insisted that there is no legal mechanism in place that allows him to allocate any sum of money directly to the elder group, bypassing State governments. Such payment to a private group would violate the Constitution except the elders have to change the constitution if they want President Muhammadu Buhari to give them money directly.â€
In addition, â€œPresident Buhari urged the elders to publicly protest against the governors if they believed the state governors to be corrupt and untrustworthy.â€
Come on, which Buhari were they talking about in the so called damning revelation- our own President or who? How can anyone of sane mind demand N8 billion from this our Buhari for settlement of whatever? Haba! Have we become this gullible to swallow this gibberish?
Is it not curious that the MEND we know allowed the pejorative N8 billion â€˜settlementâ€™ accusation against the team negotiating on its behalf go without any explanation/statement because as far as we know through the media, the only contact group negotiating/dialoguing with the Presidency to solve the renewed violence in the Niger Delta is MENDâ€™s Aaron 2 Team headed by HRH King Alfred Diete Spiff and Odein Ajumogobia (SAN)?
Was it MENDâ€™s Aaron 2 Team that asked for N8 Billion to be handed to them because they donâ€™t trust the Niger Delta governors to disburse the money or were they other teams or rather â€œcouncil of Niger Delta eldersâ€ also negotiating/dialoguing with the Presidency on the same matter and at the same time?
The information: the name- calling and N8 billion doles, to all discerning minds, is as suspicious as it is tendentious. It seems to have emanated from the handiwork of a highly placed miscreant working for some higher members of the same hierarchy. What is happening here is a simulacrum of the emergence of Fifth Columnists to further muddle up the already existing confusion in the turbulent region to pave way for the military invasion of the area.
Match what is playing out in the Niger Delta crisis with the manner the invasion of Arepo was arranged, you see that it is a straightforward script from the same source.
Except people just decide to be naive, donâ€™t we all know that Arepo had existed for the past 15 or more years with numerous battles over the years with Civil Defence, Police and the Joint Military Taskforce (JTF)? Was there not a reason why the Yorubas gave the name Are-Epo to that particular area? Arepo literally means â€œa place where they scoop oil.â€ Scooping oil in that area is it a new phenomenon and before now was it done by Niger Delta/Ijaw militants? So why ascribe the activities there to Niger Delta militants?
Is it possible that all the oil thieves and bunkerers at Arepo for the past 16 years suddenly abandoned their hitherto â€˜lucrativeâ€™ pipe-bursting business and gave it all up to Niger Delta militants? You see that something is not adding up here!
How do you antagonise the very segment of the population that could have greatly helped to restore peace in the once again restive region if you actually want peace restored there? The truth is that the ill-conceived and unwise propaganda will definitely back-fire as far as the Niger delta question is concerned. Mark my words and God help Nigeria!
(IFEANYI IZEZE lives in Abuja: firstname.lastname@example.org; 234-8033043009)