19 Apr 2006
Leave Nigeria. Foreign Oil Workers Told
A radical wing of the militants fighting the Nigerian government over the control of petroleum resources from the oil-rich Niger Delta have warned foreign oil workers to leave the country. The Movement For The Emancipation of The Niger Delta (Mend) issued a statement to Reuters saying "At a time of our choosing we will resume attacks with greater devastation and no compassion on those who choose to disregard our warnings." This warning comes on the heels of plans to develop the area unveiled just one day ago by the Obasanjo regime. The plan involved upgrading infrastructures in the area and guaranteeing employment for over 20,000 youths over the next decade. The plans included the construction of a $ 1.8 billion motorway project.
A little over two weeks ago, the government held a conference in Abuja with delegates from various interest groups from the Niger Delta in an attempt to find a new solution to the incessant agitations and kidnappings taking place in this area. As to be expected, a radical fringe of mostly youths boycotted the conference calling it a “jamboree” that will produce no results.
Almost all the oil Nigeria exports (90%) comes from this region. In the midst of these riches, majority of the area’s 20 million people live in shacks, have no clean water, no electricity and have a high rate of unemployment. Oil-generated pollution is increasingly rendering their environment unfit for subsistence farming or fishing. It is the condition of people living in misery in the midst of plenty that has certainly ignited a spirit of rebellion among the people of the Niger Delta.
The late Isaac Adako Boro is generally seen as the pioneer ‘warrior’ that started challenging the ‘irresponsible behaviour” of oil companies operating in the Niger Delta.in the sixties. The Nigerian writer Ken Saro-Wiwa was sentenced to death and hanged by Sani Abacha (late Nigerian military leader) for genuinely championing the fight of the Ogoni people against the oil companies. The former leader of the Niger Delta People’s Volunteer Force (Alhaji Mujahid Dokubo-Asari) was arrested last year and charged with treason for leading an armed insurrection against the oil companies and the Nigerian state. These are just a few people in a long list of ‘heroes’ that are fanning the spirit of rebellion in the youths of today’s Niger Delta.
The atmosphere of the international oil business is not comfortable. The nuclear stand off with Iran, the rumblings from Chad and now the sneeze from Nigeria are developments contributing to the rise of oil on the international market. The militants in Nigeria are aware of this and that seems to be the reason why some of them feel it is the right time to strike the iron while it is hot.
Njei Moses Timah