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Creeping MEND Phobia and Fifth Columnists

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Ronald Reagan was Soviet-phobic hence he did all within his powers in the oval office not only to contain the consuming tide of Communism, as the Truman doctrine enunciated, but to crush it. He is considered a heroic figure in the Republican Party and  conservative movement. His most famous quote may be 'General Secretary Gorbachev, if you seek peace, if you seek prosperity for the Soviet Union and Eastern Europe, if you seek liberalization: Come here to this gate! That gate of capitalism where the predatory forces of market fundamentalism operates like a vampire.

  The term fifth column gained currency during the inter-war years. In a radio broadcast 1936 radio address by Emilio Mola , a Nationalist General, during the 1936-39 Spanish Civil War . As his army approached Madrid , a message was broadcast that the four columns of his forces outside the city would be supported by a "fifth column" of his supporters inside the city. This message was designed to undermine and psychologically demoralize the Spanish government.   Although the "fifth column" in Spain was unsuccessful, the term was used extensively by those who fought the Fascists of Italy and Nazis of Germany.

  During the Second World War, In Britain the fear of the fifth Column was used as a rationale for persecution and mass burial of Germans resident in the U.K.   A similar trend was followed in the U.S and Canada to people of Japanese, German, and Italian descent. Simply put, fifth column is a movement in which people within the country conspire to sabotage the country from within.   Even some under-cover operators in the FBI, Green Barret, and MI5 served as fifth columnists. In Palestine, the Zionists and the Hezbollah had traded accusations of engaging in fifth column activities.

  For the past three years, the Movement for the Emancipation of the Niger Delta, MEND, spearheaded the struggle against economic exclusion, political marginalization and environmental degradation in the Niger Delta Region. The Amnesty Programme has not addressed these fundamental issues. The MEND leadership showed some quotient of courage as no arsenal, or no weapon in the arsenals of the world, cab be as formidable as the will and moral courage of people.

  In the Niger Delta, the Federal Government has created a situation of inequality in the development arithmetic of the geo-political zones making-up the country such that access to and participation in the oil and gas business is dominated by people who contribute virtually nothing to the economic viability of the nation. The unacceptable status quo has been legitimized by the implementation of obnoxious laws such as the Land Use Act and the Petroleum Act. Thus the crisis in the Region may be seen as a struggle between an exploited class and another profiting from the exploitation.

  Movement for the Emancipation of the People of the Niger Delta (MEND). MEND came to lime-light in January 11, 2006 in one of its first operations, the group raided Shell's offshore EA oil rig and kidnapped oil workers. Thus in 2006, more than 30 oil workers have been kidnapped, mostly by MEND. MEND plans to continue its debilitating campaign. In a 2006 e-mail sent to Reuters, MEND announced that "We are resuming an all-out war on the eastern sector of the delta with an aim to wiping out fields there and the export terminals. This we hope to achieve before the end of August" (Reuters, July 26, 2006). MEND has also executed more aggressive operations.

  On April 19, 2006 for example, MEND restive youths detonated a car bomb at the Bori Camp military base in Yenagoa, killing two people. In addition, militant organizations are undertaking terrorist operations against government forces and international oil interests in coordination with MEND, such as the Martyrs Brigade. Since the amnesty programme started MEND and its commanders embraced the programme even though, the programme as it is presently implemented does not address the fundamental issues raised at the Kaiama Declaration.

  What is worrisome is when MEND has embraced the amnesty programme, who then are the fifth columnists impersonating MEND in the style of the Italian Mafiosi? Is MEND actually behind the threats or are these actions done by some fifth columnists to discredit the Jonathan administration?

  Ronald Reagan was right when he said 'Government does not solve problems; it subsidizes them' The Amnesty Programme is a huge trade-off and a subsidy for the few AK7 wielding youths, while the multitude of unemployed youths languish in poverty because they do not resort to violence . Ab initio , the Amnesty Programme is defective

  What makes it difficult for me to raise a voice against violence is that the Federal Government sustains their corrupt hegemony with the resources of the nation and inflicts hunger and terror on the people.   Those who collect mobilization fees but fail to execute road contracts are terrorists, because our bad roads and akin to terrorist infrastructure. The large scale mismanagement that has precipitated mass unemployment is an act of terrorism. Unemployment has driven many youths into criminality. The nation has done violence to the over 10 millions of children who are out of school. The point being buttressed here is that terrorism does not consist in throwing fire-crackers but by every action of our leaders, which short-changes the populace and sentences people to penury, disease and death.

  All around the world insurgency that is not totally damnable if it is not coloured by religious extremism. This is why the in Afghanistan while the Hamaz and the Hezbollah in Palestine and Lebanon, the Tamil Tigers in Sri-Lanka, the Morro rebels in the Philippines, the Tu-Pac Amaru of Peru, and the rebel groups in   East Timor, Turkey and   Indonesia have not attracted much condemnation. Castro also rose to power through the activities of a revolutionary group. Jonas Savimbi also followed a similar trend in Mozambique.  

  In the oil producing Niger Delta Region, the Federal Government behaves like an army of occupation - stealing the resources of the Region without putting back infrastructure to compensate the people living in a hostile environment. On the contrary, the Federal Government adopts diplomacy of oil-for bullet policy by militarizing the area to sustain a corrupt, rent seeking hegemony. Now, kidnapping and other brands of crime have shifted from the core oil producing Niger Delta to the peripheries. This is an indication that the youths are ready to embrace the amnesty programme. The Federal Government does not seem ready to give it the deserved attention.

  Why would any Nigerian raise alarm about terrorism when $16 billion earmarked to revamp the power sector was embezzled and we allow them to walk free. Between MEND and those who took the $180 billion Halliburton bribe, who is indeed a terrorist? These scandals have seriously dented Nigeria Image and the economic and financial crimes Commissions EFCC has not gone beyond the seizure of passport and preliminary interrogation. None of the seven-point agenda has been achieved yet this administration is diverting public attention to a strange concept called 'rebranding'. Rebranding what, governance deficit, electoral malpractices, corruption or the brutality of the military against the civilian populace?

  Niger Delta is a conquered territory. It is a place of ruthless internal colonization; it is a place where the gun, the tanker, the battleship, and the marauding war planes of the nation are always at the ready to deal destruction and death. The Niger Delta is a place where Federal forces display their latest technology of warfare - a place where uniformed men display their military tactics and wreck havoc, destruction and death. The Niger Delta is a place of deepest sorrow, and MEND is only making a statement that there is despair in the land. The only way to reduce the rich-poor gap is revolution, protests, strikes and aggressive anti-corruption crusade.

  I am even surprised that a nation as blessed as Nigeria could make poverty a bedfellow. I am indeed surprised at the resilience of the people especially the youths. In other lands a frustrated youths could take to the most bizarre form of criminality. The horrible experience Nigerian is passing through now calls of the emergence of genuine rebels and reform-minded revolutionaries including guerrilla groups.   I may be speaking the minds of most Nigerians that the fear of MEND and the indiscriminate arrest of people perceived to have links with the infrastructure are grossly misplaced. Nigerians know that the real terrorists are those people in government, those fifth columnists who sabotage government programmes, shoddily execute projects and kidnap our oil resources offshore. It remains for Nigerians to decide whether or not MEND is a terrorist outfit or the public office holder who by their acts of commission or omission have inflicted pains on the masses and laid the land desolate in the midst of plenty. They are the real terrorists in Nigeria.

Idumange John, is Senior Advocate of the Masses