Literary Militants Also Need Amnesty?

By Odimegwu Onwumere

It is as if anyone of the alleged militants who doesn't accept the Fderal Government of Nigeria's amnesty for militants in the Niger Delta aimed at reducing unrest in the oil-rich region openly will be killed since I have been hearing this amnesty thing. I have been so afraid about the plight of the Niger Deltans and feel that this amnesty is somewhat an act of intimidation to shut-up the voice of the Niger Deltans by the Federal government, so that the Federal Government would continue to drill and sell the oil the heavenly being bestowed the region with. The crises is all about oil, oil and oil. Nothing more! And the FG would not have paid attention to the people if they didn't take their own drastic way of causing unrest in the region because a lot of unprintable deaths have taken place in the region since the oil was found in the region in the 1950s occassioned by toxic polutions of oil drillers and oil dealers.

The unconditional pardon and cash payments offered to the alleged rebels who agree to lay down their arms and assemble at screening centres by President Umaru Yar'Adua for 60 days, could be seen as an act of asking a crying child to shut-up or receive more beaten if the child cry again. I don't think that these boys were asking for rehabilitation initially because nothing was wrong with them. They were not mad boys, they were asking for the resource control. And since the FG doesn't understand what resource control is all about, I think it is the FG that needs rehabilitation. What has been occuring to my mind since the amnesty was granted was, how many impoverished Nigerians has the FG given amnesty for free education, medical bill and all that. I think if there is anybody that needs amnesty in the polity it is the politicians and the government for failing the expectations of Nigerians. Imagine how our roads and hospitals and people could have been if the FG had granted amnesty to all who eat ashes for bread and tears for tea. Or are there no people like that?

The Federal Government may be targeting up to 10,000 militants whose attacks in the six Niger Delta states have cost the country the alleged third of its oil production to drop arms, but I don't think that who won the war has won the peace. And what about amnesty to the literary-militants? Now the FG is asking for a drop of arms by the militants without it saying it will drop the oil they are asking for the Niger Deltans. So, who is fooling who and for what? It is very bad to use FORCE to surpress the voice of a rightly crying people.

A lot of militia leaders and foot soldiers may have indicated interest that they are tired of fighting and want to come out of the creeks doesn't mean that the Niger Deltans are tired of shouting hoerse that the oil flairing and spills are very hazardous to their people and their environment.

But what is the FG talking over these issues? Was it not only a water-wash promises of ending gas flairing and oil spills which till date are detrimental to the people? If the FG uses FORCE to stop the agitation of the people of the Niger Delta, then sabotage, oil siphoning rackets and kidnappings can not be traced to any other place but the chambers of the FG. It was these that the FG is fighting against the militants but it wants to use FORCE without dialogue to end the voice of the people. Bizarre!

Imagine where the federal government responded to the Niger Deltans with a two-pronged strategy in May this year by the military launching a major ground, air and sea offensive to flush militants out of their camps in the Niger Delta. It was after this assault on the Niger Deltans that President Yar'Adua then announced the amnesty deal, and freed Henry Okah, a suspected leader of the Movement for the Emancipation of the Niger Delta (Mend)? Wonders, they say, shall never end!

It may be good that Okah accepted the amnesty offer after treason and gun-running charges against him were dropped, but when would the FG accept to dialogue with the Niger Deltans after the arms-dropping by the alleged militants and the Niger Deltans accusing the FG of underdeveloping their region? If the arms-militants accept amnesty, would the literary-militants accept amnesty? Mend agreed a 60-day ceasefire with the government in July, and while the amnesty offer might be a positive move, has the government yet shown a willingness to tackle the underlying problems in the region? Many questions only the Federal Government of Nigeria can give Nigerians the answer.

Odimegwu Onwumere is the Founder of Poet Against Child Abuse (PACA), and also a Media Consultant based in Rivers State. Mobile: +2348032552855. Email: [email protected]