File Photo: Militants
“In the Niger Delta struggle (?), there are those with the books,Those with the bullet, Those with the prison, Those with the grave and Those with the Money”
It was I, who said that, “when our Niger Delta Leaders are troubled our lives are endangered and when they are at peace we are enslaved” Sadly, this is the true picture of the Modern day Niger Delta struggle(?) This claims unfortunately, brings the present Niger Delta Messiahs and the authenticity of their gospel to question.
In a state where the Messiah of the exploited and marginalised people continuously ride on White horses while being escorted by hunger strickened followers on barefoot, stumbling on edged rocks and sharp pointed pieces of bottles, many keen lookers who are wise will simply announce the arrival of a new megalomaniac, a left wing dictator or a well ranked sheriff in town. It is that stricken.
For how long would we continuously beat the drum of war, allow crocodiles to smile and the Pythons to dance while our creeks move from Mangrove forests to graveyards, from fry pan to fire, from homes to war front, and houses to aches? We have seen all, but our Creek remain the same. The only change visible is in the lives of the Modern day Niger Delta Messiahs. The Modern Niger Delta Messiahs build for themselves business and political empires, become a one man court, while their gospel got politically intoned and die naturally, the creek becomes more devastated and the masses ultimately bow to multiple slavery.
The apparent catharsis of the drum, the Crocodiles Smile, the friendly handshakes, political colouration, neo-colonial masters, internal jungle Lords, communal generals and their relative symptoms have tempered on our flesh, and have shown that, Niger Delta obviously, has no agenda, no vision and no direction but a lonely dream of a crop of lonely finger scratching members of a Creek cult who have succinctly metamorphosed from the underworld to public ovation.
In the deafening echoes of the Niger Delta Struggle(?), there are those with the books, those with the bullets, those with the prison, those with the grave and those with the money.
Those with the books are the number of Niger Deltans who have slept their futures for the wake of a better Niger Delta. These class of Niger Deltans formulated the Movement, sold the gospel, believed the gospel, and have sworn to make the gospel a manifest through intellectual banter. Evident in their academic works, articles, publications, lectures, documentaries and interviews is the purest of good intentions. Those with the books frown at the poor state of things in the Niger Delta without any pretence. This group is equipped with brains, the pen, the voice and the vision yet they remain in the back seat of the society without being recognised, encouraged or their gospel bought.
Those with the bullets represent the many young men who have embraced the jungle of restiveness where jingles of life taking Sounds are heard. Meritoriously, their passion was born out of the seaming unfathomable, unjustifiable, uncomprehendable and unpalatable peals the people of Niger Delta are forced to swallow day-in-day-out despite the regions role in the economy of the Nigerian State. Unfortunately, the foundation of the crusade for restitution and economic liberty was not solidly laid on solid ground where the objectives and goals were concretely spelt out by all but was auspiciously formulated to suit personal emotions and thoughts of some cartels, creek lords and pay masters who have miraculously metamorphosed to become freedom fighters. Those with the bullets have sacrificed their fingers to the trigger and have mastered the art of dancing with the heavy hammer of the military. To this group, there is no going back because their friend is the destructive jingle of bullets in the oil and blood infested creeks of the Niger Delta. Their gallantry is my throw of hat and their ultimately wasted and still wasting years are my tears.
Those with the prison are the multitude of Ijaw youths that are roasting out their lives in the dungeon facing one charge or the other. Some are legally guilty. Some are legally not guilty but politically guilty. There are also those who are guilty legally but politically not guilty. In all, those with the prison are Niger Deltan Ijaw youths. In our struggle, there are some that are sacred and more important like the George Owel’s “Animal Farm” where some animals are more important than others. Peradventure, if those sacred ones are arrested the sky will break loose, more Niger Delta Ijaws will be victimised, maimed, or killed and their homes burnt to aches. This class in our struggle cannot be imprisoned and even if they got imprisoned, they are released immediately. This class represent those with the money. On the other hand, there are others that are inconsequential. If this class is been arrested they only need their God to speak for them because no one will fight for them. This class comprises of those with the books, the bullets, and the grave. Their home is the grave or the prison in the name of the Niger Delta Struggle. Amen.
Those with the grave are the many young men that have died in the cause of the struggle. The dead of vibrant youths in the Niger Delta is not strange even to people in other regions of the country. The death syndrome have visited at least every family in the Ijaw speaking communities of the Niger Delta. Many of these youths died believing that their dreams of having a Niger Delta Republic will manifest. They had the privilege to retreat and surrender but never did they kill their bravery and shun the drum dance. These young men died for what they believed. There are others that died from the numerous incursions of the military. This class is made up of ordinary people who happened to be in a cross fire of circumstances. The crime of this class perhaps is being Niger Deltans. They met their early graves, sold their potentials to the cemetery because some among us decided to struggle for what could be best known to them. This class comprises of kids, women, the aged and other youths who were brutally murdered by the Military. In all, at the wake of the day when the tone of the struggle is commercialised, they are the forgotten people. They belong to the grave and those in the grave are not met to be remembered. Hallelujah!
Those with the money are the pipers that dictates the tone of the struggle (?). The prettiest of the jungle Lords skipping faster than monkeys dictates the show. Those with the money are the politicians and the business men that have favourably enjoyed spending money on the struggle (?), ground the nation through pipeline vandalism, and get political and economic value as return. To this class the struggle has become a business. The triumphant entry of the Presidential Amnesty Programme into the Niger Delta struggle ushered in another class of hooded messiahs. From the Creek to Abroad best describes the favored class “those with the money”. Those with the money associate with opposition and incumbent political parties, become chieftains of such parties and rage wars against themselves while the masses continuously suffer maim, torture and loss of properties consequently upon invasions by the military. Those with the money have successfully metamorphosed to well to do merchants, major contractors and national and international monarchs of no small dynasty. Those with the money reigns while those with the books, those with the bullets, those with the prison and those with the grave die with shame and emptiness leaving their wives, children and parents to suffer unrecoverable loss.
In this our countryside my brother, nobody talk about patriotism or allegiance to the Nigerian State (Not totally against though). If you are a politician and by chance you want to win elections you must dive into the art of activism. You must advocate (honestly or pretentiously) for the Niger Delta. The name Niger Delta must be the first choice topic to woo the gullible masses to your side. You must stand firm in your public condemnation of the oil exploration activities and the unfriendly Nigerian Society. If you are a businessman or a contractor that want to make it big, you must see everything right with vandalism and Oil bunkering. It is by so doing, you make friends with the oil company staffs, top government officials, big businessmen in the Engineering field, Top Military heads and enjoy the pleasure of receiving peanut alerts in your bank while the masses remain in the Creek, jumping trees like the monkey when the military come appeasing the spoils.
In this our countryside nobody talks.
Yangaboy Erekedoumene writes from Warri