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Niger Delta Need To Follow Issac Boroh’s Example

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Today, May 16, the Issac Boro Day is a well deserved commemorative date for the late Major Issac Jasper Adaka Boro, the legend of Niger Delta struggle. He was unique; when it was time for agitation, he agitated, when it was the season for protests, he led it, and when he thought the times called for armed struggle, he established the Ijaw Volunteer Force to prosecute it. However when it was time to lay down his arms, he did, was tried and got amnesty.

For him, the amnesty was a bond to maintain peace, and he never again picked up the gun to fight his country. When he did pick up the gun, it was at the prompting of the Federal Government which was fighting a war to keep Nigeria united. He fought as a Major in the Army, and when death came, it met him at his duty post defending his country.

The youths of the Niger Delta need to be as strategic and proactive as Boro. While the region had a good case and national and international sympathy which led to the granting of a comprehensive Amnesty in 2009, the renewed vandalism of oil facilities is indefensible and must stop.

The region has for long suffered from environmental devastation caused by oil exploitation, so, the further devastation caused by vandalism will only compound the situation. Rather, the youths should key into the planned Clean-up Exercise in Ogoni-Land including the mass job opportunities it offers, and ensure the extension of the Clean-up to other parts of the Region.

With low oil prices, fracking, especially in the United States and the high probability of oil production in other parts of the country, less attention maybe paid to the Niger Delta, so it makes sense for the people of the Region to maximize the opportunities they have now including the Niger Delta Development Commission, the Ministry of Niger Delta Affairs, the Presidential Amnesty Programme and the Derivation formula that gives the region extra funds. There are also the mass job opportunities to be created from the construction of the Calabar-Lagos railways. Doubtlessly many of the region's problems have not been solved, but the country has shown a marked interest in giving a listening ear, so if there are issues some people want addressed, they should table them instead of a resort to violence which will alienate the region from the rest of the country. There is nothing to avenge, the region is not in need of avengers, the region is in need of thinkers who can further its cause for sustainable development.

We in the Presidential Amnesty Programme are happy that the Niger Delta ex-agitators, elders, leaders, governors, and practically all the people of the Niger Delta have disassociated themselves from those who continue to live in the past in which violence was supposed to pay. I advise Niger Delta youths to think and focus on the future and learn from the example of Jasper Adaka Boro who after initially fighting for separatism, saw the wisdom in a greater country and sacrificed his life fighting for a united Nigeria.

Written by Brigadier General Paul Boroh (Rtd), Special Adviser to the President on Niger Delta and Coordinator of the Presidential Amnesty Programme on Issac Boroh Day.

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