By: Randy Amuna
But for the untold hardship their foolhardiness has caused the nation, the lost of militants or rather miscreants in the Niger Delta borders is comical and ridiculous. These criminals, knowing that the country runs a mono-culture economy dependent on crude exploration in the region, have done their best in recent months to sabotage the nation with all manner of threats that further spooked the currency as investors weigh the risk of doing business in a country where a section is threatening to bring down apocalypse. But it only took an Army training exercise, “Operation Crocodile Smile” to put reset their warped minds to default.
The fear of these militants was such that they tried all available arsenals at their disposal to spread disinformation by labeling the training exercise as an invasion by the military. This was despite the fact that the Nigerian Army adequately spread the information about the exercise and the need for residents of communities that are proximate to the exercise not to panic. They even threw in a free medical outreach in for these people, who in the end could not end their elation.
Of course, because there is an insidious agenda, not just of the youths that made up the militant groups but also the elders that were edging them on in the hope of making financial windfalls from the much trumpeted ‘Negotiations’, some of the militants were retarded enough to have attempted taking on the troops on one of the days of training. The rest is history, five of them ended up dead and 23 others were arrested. So if a training exercise can inflict this much damage then a full operation against terrorism in the Niger Delta should wound up faster than “Operation Lafia Dole” that made mincemeat of Boko Haram terrorists in the North East.
This realization on the part of the militants has forced their corporate and institutional wings to change the tempo of demanding for negotiation. They have become more strident. But instead of assuaging our collective hurt they are actually rubbing salt into the national wound since some of them continue to brag about how the nation’s military does not understand the layout of the creeks and how the militants are not holed up in one location the way Boko Haram fighters were in Sambisa Forest (not that the fanatics were anyways).
The cul-de-sac these minions have walked themselves into must thus be understood to fully appreciate their morbid fear of the military. They played the wrong hand in the deadly game they went into and they overplayed it at that. Any sympathy they would have gotten from Nigerians has been lost with the goodwill that evaporated in the heat of the economic searing that their fireworks wrought.
Firstly, Nigerians are now aware that the same set of criminals that had benefitted billions of naira in amnesty bribes are the same ones leading these current bands of miscreants that are destroying oil and gas installations. They had first, under the guidance of their politicians, threatened the rest of us with the current happenings if we dare voted out their kinsman, Goodluck Jonathan, as President even when the overwhelming opinion was that he performed below expectations. While these threats served the interest of their political class, what the militants were after was to secure the perpetuity of the amnesty dole, which is not sustainable in any country. One cardinal objective of the attacks mounted by these elements was thus to again secure another round of bribe named amnesty as proven by the ferocity with which the likes of Chief Edwin Kiaogbodo Clark was demanding negotiation with his “Children”.
Secondly, it turned out that the militants and their sponsors forgot that crippling crude exploration also wipes out the derivation revenue that has been the lifeline of Niger Delta states. The everyday people in these areas are therefore at the receiving end of the harsh economy with many of the states and local government unable to pay salaries and the oil servicing firms being forced to shed staff. The muzzle of the gun pulled on Nigeria by the militants is on the temple of the Niger Delta, which felt the coldness of the metal before the rest of the nation. If the truth be told, the local population, except in communities that are steeped in the business of bunkering, has become resentful of the militants who could only bring home trouble. The rousing welcome the women and children in these communities gave the troops as they arrived to train is enough testimony that the so called militants may be in for some interaction with International Criminal Court for war crimes since they will have to harm their own people to get to the military.
Thirdly, the other ethnic groups in the region have become wise to the reality that Ijaws are leading them by the nose to satisfy what has been repeatedly proving to be a selfish agenda. They have had a taste of what power drunken ethnic jingoists can visit on the others that they perceive as inferior nationalities. So had the miscreants declared any monkey republic like they threatened they would have been confronted with ethnic nationalities ceding from their ill thought contraption within days of its declaration. For instance, Itsekiri leaders in Delta state have advised President Muhammadu Buhari against being sold on the fake negotiation scam that the godfathers of the militants are peddling.
The counsel to these leaders that, “The rest of the Niger Delta made up of the Ibibio, Edo, Urhobo, Ikwerre, Ogoni, Efik, Isoko, Ndokwa, Itsekiri, etc should not be made to learn and discover that problem solving in the region can only be through violence and aggression. Violence and aggression should be discouraged by every means” is one that the entire nation should take to heart.
Fourthly, the Army of any nation symbolizes not just it’s strength and bastion against aggression but also has its spiritual dimension because it co-exercises the authority vested in the leadership of that country. Since here in Nigeria we agree that leadership is usually ordained, any militant taking on the state or the Army know they contend against God in a battle they will always lose. This is why the Niger Delta militants know they have to fear the Army as they are conscious that they fight a war of guilt, driven not by the unfair treatment they claim but by a disdain for the right of other ethnic nationals to live.
This is why the Federal Government should now fully deploy the military and other security agencies to clean up the criminality being perpetrated in the Niger Delta. The talks of negotiation should be banished forthwith and any regional leader peddling such should be apprehended as a sponsor of those blowing up oil and gas installations. Militants claiming to have ceased hostilities should demonstrate that by unconditionally turning over their arms since Nigerians are not allowed to bear the kind of assault weapons they have in their arsenals even with permits or licenses. Such militants must also commit to repairing what they have damaged. The kind of dole for mischief that characterized the earlier amnesty in the South-South must never again be repeated since it is now glaring that it does not keep the youths in that area away from criminality same way it will not keep youths anywhere else from criminality.
The Nigerian Army is judgment day come to the criminal militants. Let us all allow the days of their fear begin.
Amuna, National Coordinator , Media and Anti- Corruption Crusade Network contributed the piece from Port Harcout.
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