Nigeria: Militancy, Amnesty, Power And Economic Growth (an intricate mix)
AbstractMore than ninety percent (90%) of the foreign exchange earnings of the federal republic of Nigeria, comes from the Niger Delta. But the region has been embroiled in crisis because of the peoples’ fight for resource control and search for redress after many years of neglect. Several militant groups were formed and hostage taking (kidnapping),pipe line vandalisation, terrorizing of oil workers, disabling flow stations,shuting down oil rigs, disruption of infrastructural development and absolute lawlessness became the order of the day. An oil sector with a daily installed capacity of 3.2 million barrels of crude per day (mbpd) came down to 1.3 mbpd in 2008 because of the activities of the militants. With the retariliatory attacks by the militants in June 2009, production hovered between 800,000bpd and 1.2 mbpd The mantra of President Umaru Musa Yar’Adua since he assumed office, has been his 7-point agenda. This paper however
singles out two (no.1 and no.6) out of the 7 points for close examination, namely,(i).Security and (ii) Power and energy. Nigeria has been tagged the darkest nation on earth because of her very serious energy crisis. Many companies have relocated, shut down or reduced operations in Nigeria, throwing multiple thousands into the job market. Nigeria has been appropriately tagged a grave for big businesses. The manufacturers’ Association of Nigeria (M.A.N) has lamented that the greatest challenge to manufacturing in Nigeria is power. One of the campaign promises of President Yar’Adua was to produce 6,000 megawatts of electricity by the end of 2009 and 10,000 megawatts by 2011.The gas needed to achieve a major part of this dream is suppose to come from the Niger Delta. The amnesty programme put in place by President Yar’Adua, which expired on the 4th of October 2009,saw many militants laying down their arms. With relative peace in the region, gradual growth is once again being experienced in the economy. The projected 6,000 megawatts by December 2009 which hitherto looked like a mirage, is beginning to look realizable Some states in Nigeria have come out with laws addressing the very disturbing vice of kidnapping / hostage taking. Some recommend life imprisonment while others prescribe the death penalty for offenders
The success of the amnesty programme of the Nigerian federal government is commendable, but we must tell ourselves a few truths. We must ensure that sincerity is the watchword .All commitments made must be kept. Already, some of the militants are crying fowl-they suspect that the government will renege on its promises. Some of them openly confessed that they have their PLAN B, which is, returning back to the creeks and resuming militancy-this is not a good sign. We must objectively ask ourselves: ‘why did the boys in the creeks take up arms against the federal government in the first place. We cannot just sweep the issue of resource control under the carpet. Until the aggrieved party is truly assuaged and fully re-intergraded, it is not yet uhuru. The kind of sophisticated weapons surrendered by many of the ‘ex-militants’ (many of which, even the Nigerian security operatives could not handle) made me to shudder. How did the boys in the creeks amass this kind of weaponry? We know today that politicians (several of whom are still in power or in the corridors of power) recruited many of these boys in the creeks as political thugs, handing them guns with which they have continued to terrorise the citizenry. Politicians have created monsters they can no longer control. It is also common knowledge that foreign nationals are contributing to the crisis
because they buy stolen oil from illegal bunkerers and in turn supply them with guns and other armunitions.PLEASE THE INTERNATIONAL COMMUNITY SHOULD HELP LASTING PEACE RETURN TO THE NIGER DELTA. The Nigerian government should do all it can to shrink the huge unemployment profile in the country as unemployed youths are ever ready tools of distabilisation
I see genuine peace returning to the Niger Delta. I see Nigeria rising again. I see our prostrate economy growing again. All we need is genuine sincerity and commitment from all stake holders to move Nigeria forward.