NIGERIA AT CHRISTMAS 2006

Adeola Aderounmu.

I visited Nigeria after 3 years of absence. My plan was to stay with my Nigerian family and friends for one month or thereabout. Unfortunately, I didn’t stay more than 2 weeks in Lagos Nigeria. I arrived at the near peak of the fuel scarcity on 15th December. It was also during this period that armed robbers went on the rampage. What I’d read online before embarking on this trip didn’t deter me anyway. Nigeria is my country of birth and I’d lived there 29 years before I opted out.

My experiences were not palatable. Once I spent 4 hours on the queue to buy petrol at a gas station. It didn’t help that I woke up at 6am. Many nights, we slept in the dark; power outage was still a regular phenomenon. We couldn’t even use the generator most of the time because there was lack of fuel anyway.The cost of living has risen sharply. Bottled water, cold drinks and other things that help in the heat of the sun are sold expensively. People now pay more for everything including food.  On the contrary, the standard of living has continued on a sharp decline. The roads are dirtier; the walls of houses are unkempt. Play grounds have become breeding grounds for young cultists. A lot of young people now smoke and drink dangerously. I couldn’t believe my eyes with all that I saw. What I saw in festac town was an eyesore of unimaginable magnitude. It depicted the larger society and how hopelessness has crept into the existence of many.People live now like there is no governance in Nigeria. They have gradually lost faith in the system that should protect and care for them.

We must not forget that the present day 419ers in Nigeria have resorted to self help to avoid hunger, poverty and unnecessary hardship. It is not a preferred solution but where are the better options?  No plan to solve the unemployment situation, no social security, no hope in sight and no one expresses care or any feelings to the plight of the less than average Nigerian.Imagine how horrified I became to wake up one morning and learn that perhaps more than 500 people may have died from a pipeline explosion. I was in Lagos at this time and the news actually reached me from my family in Sweden. We had not had electricity to be able to follow the news and the idea of buying newspaper didn’t cross my mind. I was not expecting any disaster! People were scooping petrol illegally, there have been past deadly incidents, they know the risk but they also thought scooping was worth dying for. This is the level that the value of the Nigerian life has depreciated to. Almost meaningless. Else, how can you explain corpses by the road side daily?  

There is a big question on my mind. In Nigeria, who is taking care of what? In less than 2 weeks, I began to wonder if this is the same place that I’d been educated and lived for 29 years until 2002. Of course, life has not been a bed of roses for me. It was very hard to get through school financial wise. It was not easy either getting food on the table. Mine has always been a life of hard struggle but I’d never imagined that it will not get better for us as a country.We thought the military was the problem, but after 8 years of the Obasanjo-Atiku civilian regime, I have come to realize that it is not a question of military or civilian rule in Nigeria. It boils down to attitude. There is both greed and corruption in every aspect of our lives and quite unconventionally, there is absence of common good. Majority suffers in the process. A typical public office holder in Nigeria cares for his own selfish interest first. He or she is foremost interested in acquisition of wealth that will be enough for a life time. Typically, Nigerian politicians and public servants amass wealth for their unborn generation.

We live in a society where we worship money and riches. It doesn’t matter to us how people get rich, just that they are! Over the years, this attitude has begotten crime, murder, pen robbery, physical robbery and the irreparable consequences of the meaning of life under the modern day Nigeria. That the people are generally resilient or tolerant in the face of obvious public office abuse and that no solid voice or voices have form coercion against the juntas that have not diminished in intent and purpose since 1960 calls for a re-evaluation of our common intelligence. 

I left Nigeria on December 29 leaving behind again my beloved country, friends and family. I’d wished that Nigeria provides me with the opportunity to give back into the system fully as I’d dreamt as a child. It was not to be. I lived in fear and darkness for 2 weeks; I became ill drinking some bottled water. I travelled out again because I had a choice. What will be the fate of over 100million people living desperately below the poverty line?

This article has been re-written and updated in the following posts:

1. Christmas in Hell: http://www.nigeriavillagesquare.com/articles/guest-articles/christmas-in-hell.html

2. Why I prefer a white christmas, http://www.nigeriavillagesquare.com/articles/adeola-aderounmu/why-i-prefer-a-white-christmas.html

aderounmu@gmail.com

Census 2006: Why count primitively? Adeola Aderounmu

Census 2006: Why count primitively?

Adeola Aderounmu 

That census enumerators trek short or long distances to count people is a shame in the 21st century

 

The essence of this write up will be to proffer an advice to the Nigerian Nation and the authorities who don’t seem to have learnt anything from the way the world has advanced in recent years. It is a shame that Nigerian leaders waste a lot of public funds traveling to developed countries and even buying houses and properties in these countries without taking back home the good part of these well-to-do countries.  The 2006 census (whether the results are released or pending) is not how to count Nigerians. This is the 21st century and it is now possible to count exactly how many people live within a geographical boundary anywhere in the world. Even if you are not very careful, someone is looking at you right now using goggle earth, a satellite online tool that can give a view of anyplace anywhere under the sun.

 

 

To count Nigerians is not a 5-day project. It is not even a 50 days project. Counting in every country should be a daily thing based on how many births or deaths have been registered on that day. It is the work of some people to keep track of population flow. The first step is to make an attainment to the level where you can make a click on your computer and enter a database where the appropriate authority is keeping track of registration of life and death. Similarly, immigration and emigration should be noted. This means that airport authority including custom and immigration establishments and their records of flights and passengers play a crucial role.

 

 

Taken simply, what Nigeria needs in terms of knowing how many people make up Nigerians is a long term plan. It is a process that will start gradually, remain focused and eventually reach a stabile. Nigerian needs a system where her citizens are recognized by social security number (SSN) or what in some countries is known as personal numbers (PN). This number which is also indicated on your national id or passport is a tag that does not change whatever happens! Everything that affects you (good or bad) is always recorded against this SSN on a computer database. This SSN is with every public institute and some private institutes have special access too. It is not possible for a person to have double SSN because fingerprints go along with it. But that does not rule out that identities cannot be stolen but if the law catches up with the perpetrators, they always face the music. An individual’s SSN is found in Hospital Records office, Tax office, Employment office, Insurance companies, Motor Vehicle Licensing office, Bank records, Statistics bureau, and so on and so forth.

 

Where do we start from in Nigeria? The problem in Nigeria is that counting is not done with sincerity of purpose. Politicians meddle with everything that is of National Interest for selfish gains and personal reasons. This is the debacle that must be removed. A public institution like the National Population Commission (NPC) has to be re-engineered to catch up with modern realities.  The way we count ourselves must change. Personally, I will suggest a 5-10 years plan to count all Nigerians and then a daily observations of changes. This is how developed countries plan for her citizens; they monitor daily population growth and influx or out flux. Where you reside is not a factor, the point is that they know that you exist and live within a certain region in the country. If you leave the country, they know. They are also aware when you return as long as you have taken the legal approaches to do these things. In crime situations, people beat some of these checks but the essence of knowing the number of people remains.

This is my idea. A 5-10 years plan so that nobody is rushing or running to meet a deadline. There is no need to create chaos just because you want to meet a deadline. It is not necessary to count Nigerians in a hurry.

Nigeria must look into the future; make solid plans for things that work forever, not temporarily. What about the NPC registering every Nigerian at its local offices, giving out SSN and taking fingerprints? All the local office should be connected to a central computer network. State of the art technology must be in place to detect multiple fingerprints. Let us look at this scenario, a young African man sought asylum in Greece and somehow surface in Sweden for the same purpose. He was told that his fingerprint has been previously recorded on the central European asylum seekers machine! This is the stage that the world has reached.

A person need to be identified with his name, SSN, address, occupation, marital status, children (or not) and so on. A change of address should be immediately reported so that the state or local government knows who has moved in or out. People moved for many reasons; to be with family, change of job and so on. To know those who have migrated out of the country especially, the migration office or the NPC could do random check by asking individuals to return a form with fingerprint. Obviously, no 2 individuals have been reported with the same fingerprints. With time, each family would have registered their children and relatives even if they are not all educated. A 10 year period is enough to let people know that something is in progress. Nobody would rush and there would be no stampede. When a child is born, the hospital should have the means (either by the computer network) or otherwise to inform the NPC or a registration of birth. Obviously, the families of newborns know that they are obliged to get a SSN for their newborns. The NPC only need to see the baby and the information that they have received from the hospital.

 

 

In essence, what I am trying to say here is that with time, all Nigerians will be registered. NPC should exist in every community or Local councils. Their operations must be completely computerized with appropriate backup. The registration of death should also be taken into account as much as that of births. How many foreigners live among us can also be noted. Foreigners should also have SSN that can be coded so that once they appear on the system, it becomes obvious that they are for foreigners and the exact country they come from appears. The nature of their businesses in Nigeria is also reveal by the same SSN.

 

Many of the things that I have suggested here are based on my experience in Europe, Sweden especially. I have lived in Sweden for more than 5 years and if you want to know anything about me, all you need to do is to go to the Tax office in Stockholm and give them my Personal Number. Even telling them my name gives similar results. They will tell you my entire life history since the first time that I registered that I am living in Sweden. You don’t need any special authority to find any information about me!

 

 

It is unnecessary and a waste of time and resources to count people before, during and after elections. We should be able to click on the NPC database in the next 10 years and say there are maybe 150 million people in Nigeria. We should be able to say things like, 2,000 foreigners live in Ketu and that 300, 000 Nigerians have immigrated to Europe in the last 24 months, for example.

 

 

It is not modern to make the journeys to count people in their homes when you can make the click on a secured PC. It sound like some of the events of biblical era and it is extremely a primitive concept. Even then, lacking the resources to do logical simple counts still called for a re-think in a country that considers itself the “sleeping” giant of Africa. Enumerators only need to click the mice of their desktops with a cup of coffee or tea by their side to find out the latest entry on the database network and a second click to give the total of how many people live in Nigeria. If Nigeria is also truly the heartbeat of Africa as been advertised on CNN, then we need to set the pace. Surely, Nigeria is filled with rot which explains why we can hardly do anything right yet, it is a shame. Using various intellectuals minds, the plagues that afflict Nigerians have been over flogged by Nigerian media houses using editorials and contributions. Nobody is listening and the politicians will never be interested in making things work right. This is a worrying amusement. The talk of sanity within public establishments is seen as foolishness by many especially those who have lost hope in how the Nigerian system works. Good ideas don’t see the light of the day because no one is planning for a hundred years to come. The failure of the past leaders has robbed on our collective intelligence and the persistent foolhardiness of the old brigades in governance will almost invariably robbed the future generation of looking forward to greatness as a nation. We continue to look out because only a few people have harnessed Nigerians wealth to selfish gains. It will be a huge shame and disappointment if the 2006 census is a platform to continue in our cycle of idiocy. A non-violent positive change in the near future will be succour.

 

Adeola Aderounmu

Sweden

Nigerians In The Diaspora, By Kunle Sanyaolu..July 2006

Nigerians In The Diaspora
By Kunle Sanyaolu July 31 2006

Great ideas are never in short supply in this country.
Nigeria is a God-blessed country. Rather, implementation has been our bane. Most often, we tend to reduce great ideas to tatters, in the course of implementing them. The idea behind Nigerians in the Diaspora, a euphemism for Nigerians living outside the country, particularly in Europe and
America, is impeccable. It would be wonderful if the country can device means to tap from their experience, their expertise and even their wealth. Nigerians in the Diaspora are rubbing mind and shoulders daily with modern technology. Their host society is organized and a lot more predictable. The scholarly among them are enjoying their studies because these are daily conducted in serene and amiable environment. Back here in the country, it is not uncommon for students on campus library to suddenly abandon their books and scamper for safety in response to sporadic gunshots that could be coming from anywhere or targeted at anyone. In marking the Nigeria in the Diaspora day in
Abuja during the week, Foreign Affairs Minister, Mrs. Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala observed that remittances by Nigerians in the Diaspora are in the region of $4 billion yearly. This is a staggering sum that could boost the economy of any developing country, if properly applied.
Many families in
Nigeria benefit directly from remittances from abroad. Some old people whose children or breadwinners are in the Diaspora in fact live on such remittances. Economists believe the foreign currency sent in invariably strengthens the local currency. Obviously, such a gain is largely eroded by the import-dependence and penchant for foreign goods characterized in the local economy. All the same, the money coming in cannot be quantified in its usefulness. Ironically, the recipients in
Nigeria always wish the naira value to be low, so they can cash more naira for given dollars or pounds. All of us should be concerned about how these remittances can be harnessed for real growth. Additionally, how can we tap the expertise and invaluable experience acquired by Nigerians in the Diaspora, for direct benefit to the country? So far, most Nigerians that manage to have a steady or not-so-steady job abroad are unwilling to return home. Yes, they could be considered second-class citizens, in society so race-conscious. But many of them have concluded that their second class status is better than their first class status in
Nigeria. When they come home, it is usually briefly, due to cost consideration among others. But their satisfaction with the arrangement is buttressed by the praise they receive from family friends and kinsmen who freely express how healthy and good looking the Nigerians abroad are. Many of them actually believe they could not have been so healthy and good looking had they remained in
Nigeria.
By giving thoughts and activities in honour of Nigerians in the Diaspora, the Federal Government has acknowledged their contribution, or their potential, to the development of the country. These are people who went with nothing and end up establishing themselves in all spheres of life and entrepreneur. They become very useful citizens to their host country, and they reciprocate by loving the country, their community and serving them wholeheartedly. Their regret is that their service and loyalty ought to be rendered first and foremost to their native country. But alas, they had no such opportunity. Indeed they had no expertise until they traveled abroad. But it is their father-land. They can’t give it up. Even some Nigerians who excel in sports and decide to assume foreign nationality still have roots at home. And they remit money regularly. It is not always a success story for Nigerians in the Diaspora. Some of them have become only slightly better than destitute, as a result of constant harassment by the host, coupled with inability to get decent jobs. Many in this category have no genuine international passports. If they do, their visa has expired. But they cannot contemplate going home with empty hand. What would they even do at home? They ran from home in the first place. They can only return home with a lot of cash to satisfy the expectation of their people. To these people, life in the Diaspora is not so kind. They have to be extra mindful of where they go, when and who they associate with. In particular, they have to consciously steer clear of mischief lest the authorities send them home with the next available flight. These Nigerians have their experience and expertise too. And
Nigeria can very well benefit from them if the approach is correct. According to reports, one thinking behind the
Nigeria in the Diaspora Day is to bring the private sector, universities, the government and the Nigerians in the Diaspora to work in partnership to convert Nigerians’ intellectual talent into a competitive advantage, comparable with the achievement of more developed societies.
But the idea of redesigning the out-of-use Federal Secretariat in
Lagos as a residential complex for Nigerians in the Diaspora does not jell with the overall plan for them. President Olusegun Obasanjo envisaged that the secretariat, as residential quarters will provide accommodation for them. That presupposes that accommodation is a problem for intending Nigerian returnees. Accommodation certainly is one of the problems but not a major one. Nigerians in the Diaspora left relatives and kinsmen before their departure. They kept contact with them all through their years of sojourn. And these home based relatives are always too happy to receive their sons and daughters on return. Besides, many Nigerians in the Diaspora have built fine houses in the native country over the years, to which they could always retire.
In addition, the country cannot get the best from Nigerians in the Diaspora when these are secluded in reserved or prime areas of the country. They probably will end up feeling extraordinary or with much higher class and taste than other Nigerians. But l doubt if they would feel comfortable in such designated accommodation. For one, such an arrangement reduces the difference between home and abroad that otherwise they would have, since they will still end up seeing themselves as Nigerians abroad. Also, massing them up in the Federal secretariat exposes them to security risk. Armed robbers of nowadays go for cash, and where this is in hard currency, the target becomes more attractive. Finally, the Federal government assumes that Nigerians in the Diaspora, if they come home, will like to stay in
Lagos. Again, this may be far from the truth as no survey or research work has so indicated. If anything, the hustling and bustling, chaos, regular breaches of peace and the aggressive nature of
Lagos are directly antithetical to the serene, orderly, courteous and organized societies abroad that the Nigerians had become used to.
For coming up with the idea of foraging a partnership with Nigerians in the Diaspora, the Federal Government deserves praise. But they should guard against the idea going the way of Image
Nigeria and other lofty ideas killed by wrong implementation. Thousands of other Nigerians had opportunity to travel abroad for greener pastures; or to stay there, having achieved the silver lining. But they chose to stay back or return to
Nigeria to contribute their quota directly. These Nigerians are unsung, yet their contribution is unquantifiable. Care must be taken not to alienate them. If things work at home, most Nigerians abroad would rather choose to be home than abroad. Government needs to make things work. Supply of electricity remains a sore point, coupled with bad roads, unemployment, degrading environment, diseases, inadequate housing and poor health delivery. All these have culminated into poverty for the masses. Having tasted the immense difference between this condition and that prevalent in Europe and America, Nigerians in the Diaspora naturally would prefer abroad, from where their contribution home will always be minimal, while their host country enjoys the most of them.
 

Obasanjo and the Path of Honour

Aderounmu Adeola Omotayo

 

Obasanjo did Nigerians and the entire world proud when he willingly relinquished power to democratic government in 1979. Before he was bungled into prison by the tropical military gangster of Abacha, Obasanjo enjoyed the international status that he earned by this honourable exploit. Interestingly he got his second term under a democratic government 20 years later. Many have described him as a lucky man making the ride from prison to Aso rock in 1999. In 2003, he showed the political will in the “animal called man” and won a third term opportunity to govern the Federal Republic of Nigeria. This tenure will come to an end by the special grace of God in 2007 when Obasanjo will hand over the reign of power to a newly elected president.

 

 

For anyone to suggest a fourth term for Obasanjo (or third term as an elected president) is unfounded and senseless. The constitution does not yet allowed it and it seems right not to amend it for such a purpose. This idea or concept should not have emanated at all no matter how messianic Obasanjo appears to be. God always speak to Obasanjo and he must depend on this special celestial gift at this moment of his life to discern the way forward in his life. The way forward cannot be another 2 or 6 years in the same office. It also cannot be listening to the voice of the devil or political gladiators.

 

 

Bill Clinton was a fine president. With all his fine qualities and age on his side then, Americans did not amend the constitution to allow him a third-term. They will not do so for George Bush when his present term runs out. On what special precedents would Obasanjo deserve this privilege? Why has he kept quiet since this unwarranted path to dishonour gathered momentum? Before now, Obasanjo has said that he would not think of another term. In my opinion, the idea of another term started in Obasanjo’s imagination and then his speeches at home and abroad, vowing not to run for another term in office. Perhaps what he has done and deliberately too, is to test the waters and see who fell for this idea by becoming willing propagators. On the other hand, the just concluded “National Conference” made some gullible disciples based on this self-destructive jingle called third-term.

 

 

If some people or groups are now apostles of Obasanjo’s continued stayed in power and they are raising funds or making money for this purpose, then Obasanjo must know that this is the first chapter of a dishonourable end. Even though the larger part of the Nigerian society prefers to “siddon look”, it is on record that their endless vigils in churches or mosques always play out eventually and then Nigerians just continue with their lives. Nigeria and Nigerians have outlived the likes of Babangida and Abacha. Obasanjo will not be different if the gods have decided to make him deaf at this crucial moment of his life. He has 2 years more to do whatever God has sent him to do and he should do that in earnest. But first, he needs to do away with detractors and focus on proper governance. Obasanjo is already committing a sin because he knows the right thing and he has refused to do it. When he does, maybe he will hear the voice of God again.

 

 

In my opinion, the right thing for Obasanjo to do is to make an open and sincere declaration or broadcast to quench this third-term bid once and for all. He should dissociate himself from individuals and groups spreading this concept so that they are brought to shame. Then he should concentrate on the remaining days of his presidency and pursue his reforms to a point where a new president in 2007 will find it illogical to depart from a course to economic revamping, social justice, eradication of corruption and better life for all Nigerians. However, at some points in our existence, one of the things we may come to exercise or enjoy is called freewill. Being in a very powerful and influential position, Obasanjo may decide to wedge his influence and gun for a third term. Everything is possible in Nigeria and the constitution may be hastily “doctored” in his favour. In the end, the truth that everyone soon discover is that power remains transient and change is constant.

 

 

Whatever happens, it is just wise that Nigerians keep their dreams and hopes of greater tomorrow alive. This is a blessed country and to think that we cannot find a new and better president in 2007 to manage our affairs is one of the most unfounded and baseless thoughts that emerged recently. Nigerians don’t need anyone to appoint to them a successor in 2007; the people are willing to vote again as they did in 1993! As an optimist, I believe that Nigerians will vote for a positive change and would invariably do away with sycophants as much as a free and fair poll will allow. In the meantime, keen political observers will be ready in 2007 to make a quick comparison of deliverance of successful political dispensation in Nigeria taking into full consideration the progresses that have been made in countries like South Africa and Ghana. Zimbabwe will not be an example for measuring political progress.

 

Aderounmu AO

aderounmu@gmail.com

Niger Delta, the militants and the rest of us

In the May 22 2006 Edition of the International TIME Magazine, the headline was markedly devoted to
Nigeria and the caption read “THE DEADLY DELTA”. In the exclusive reports, the magazine looked at the insurgency that threatens Nigeria’s oilfields. On page 20 of this same edition, there was a more telling headline: NIGERIA’S DEADLY DAYS. These headlines sound more like the titles of a thriller movie divided into part 1 and part 2. In the introductory parts, TIME informed those of us who do not know that the Niger Delta lie over one of the biggest reserves of oil on the planet: 34 billion bbl. of black gold. It was quick to add however that the region is also home to some of Africa’s poorest people and probably the place where we have the worst environmental destruction on earth. The magazine asserted that the south of Nigeria is poverty-stricken, yet oil-rich.
 

 

The origin of crises in the Niger Delta has been reported to be almost as old as the emergence of oil companies in the area. In this vein, those who are now campaigning for autonomy in the region or more control of local wealth have been fingered or confused with those who have over the years made millions of dollars from bunkering. The problems and misunderstanding plaguing the Delta region of Nigeria is almost as diverse as the extensive creeks, inlets and tributaries that typify the zone. It is still a mystery that despite the fact that the Nigeria’s Federal Government has been promising to help the Delta for decades, there have been only little progress. Perhaps there are pockets of projects here and there. What is actually needed in the Niger Delta and indeed Nigeria is a transformation of our lives into that which is worth living. It is disheartening that Nigeria is the sixth largest producer of oil in the world and yet we have the poorest people living among us. The standard of living in Nigeria is very low, the cost of living is high and the dividends of democracy since 1999 have been nothing short of sorrow, anger and anguish.

It has been stated that the 2003 elections left a major consequence of the growing armed conflicts in the Niger Delta. The ruling party politicians were reported to have armed local youths-many of them gang members-to ensure that votes go their way. According to the TIME report, weapons flooded the region before the 2003 poll, which in many parts of the Delta was less an election than an armed contest. There is a lot of misinformation and confusion in the region now that it is very difficult to distinguish between criminals and those who are really seeking the interest of the growth of the region by the use of armed conflict. The militants have stated many times that government and oil companies understand only the language of violence. They have since changed their tactics from speech and appeals to kidnapping of oil workers and attacking of oil installations. The effect of these happenings on world business and global economy is as interesting as amazing yet the Nigerian Government treat it like a grain of salt.

One thing that is also playing out in the Niger Delta locally that needs to be mentioned is that fact that the militants have actually constitute themselves into public nuisances as well. How can one explain the undue intrusions into the private businesses of fishing companies? Possibly, there are many harassments of innocent people and other organisations apart from the oil companies that are unreported. To be sure, my brother who is a marine engineer and sailor told me how they were lucky not to be killed on their fishing boat. However, the second fishing boat belonging to the same company was not that lucky, two people were shot and had to be taken to a hospital. I was told that these victims were fortunate to be alive. If this is the extent to which the militants have pursued their claims; to turn against ordinary people doing legitimate businesses, then they are seriously misled and are not different from common criminals anymore.  I was told that they carry more sophisticated weapons than the Nigerian Navy and Army put together. This actually confirms what I have read in many news about them. We know that the ransom they get over the years from their kidnapped victims can finance the purchase. But how do they get these weapons? Who is smuggling them in from the neighboring countries? Weapons cannot be that small or unnoticeable? Why should militants operating in the creeks be more sophisticated than the Nigerian military? Why are the coastal areas not properly guarded? Are the militants the only group of people who understand the creeks? When will the Navy and the other bodies responsible for safety on water and land be able to guarantee the safety of innocent people?

Concerns Nigerians and leaders of thoughts have expressed interests in the plights of the people of the Niger Delta but resolving to arm conflicts is definitely not going to solve the problem. According to Ledum Mitee a human right activist and head of the Movement for the Survival of the Ogoni People (MOSOP), who probably was interviewed by TIME magazine “The Delta problem is a crisis of frustration. The militants are seen as people who can stand up to the oppressors”. In my viewpoint, as far as Nigeria is concerned, there is frustration and oppression almost everywhere and we cannot all resolve to arms carrying to rights all the wrongs we have lived with for all of our lifetime. In the Niger Delta especially, the state and federal governments need to take drastic measures to correct the anomaly of many years. They have only a few months to do this. The people of the Niger Delta are rated among the poorest people in the world. This is ridiculous and it is actually a dirty slap on the face of the Federal Government. How can one explain a rich land begetting poor folks? It is like a curse from which the militants are trying to redeem their people. That is not their job. It is a duty that every government owns the citizenry, to see to the welfare of the states and the inhabitants thereof.

Let no one be deceived, the situation in the Niger Delta is a real threat to the Nigerian State. My brother expressed grave fears for the elections in 2007. In his view, and based on his encounters with the militants, he thinks that the 2007 elections is a disaster waiting to happen. He expressed concerns that a serious war can break out. Now is the time to put the militants out of business for the sake of the entity called Nigeria. Under a democratic system, the use of absolute force is negative and this is one of the weaknesses of the Federal Government that the militants have capitalized on so far. It has been said that some leaders of the Niger Delta area have contributed to the woes of the region. But now that everyone seemed to be enlightened and keen, it will be nice to see what can be done to restore the hope of the people in the Niger Delta area. We will all like to see what has been put in place to protect the environment as well. The Federal government and the various oil companies operating in the Niger Delta have a lot to do to change the region from a killing field to a place where sanity reigns.

What has happened in the last one year in the Niger Delta coupled with the harvest of deaths through assassinations especially in the South West bear ominous signs as we approach the delicate elections of 2007. Our do-or-die politicians including those who arm thugs and militants are not helping the situation at all. The season of “my opponent must die” prevails and the thoughts of revenge and witch-hunting all over the land points to lack of good governance and absolute ignorance of the essence of public service. In the south west especially, we have turned back the hand of the clock to yester-years. We are now re-writing and playing out those scripts that we were told crippled our democracy and paved way for the military to tread upon our lives catastrophically. The cumulative effects of these uprisings could snowball out of control. History can repeat itself fatally on the Nigeria state in the form of avoidable war. We already have a state of emergency somewhere. Overall, these are like dreams we will not want to live through. The ruling government has a civil duty to protect life and property. Nigeria as a country needs total re-invigorating. The people need empowerment and above all, they deserve a better life judging by the wealth that the nation accrues daily. In the short term however, it behooves on the Obasanjo government at this moment to prevent chaos in the country, now and in 2007. Bob Marley said it all, “you can fool some people sometimes, but you can’t fool all the people all the time”. We can all see the handwritings on the wall, still those who have ears, let them hear.

Adeola Aderounmu

aderounmu@gmail.com

 

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