Monday, January 29, 2007

Niger Delta Malignant Militancy

The spate of attacks and brazenness of the Niger Delta militant groups is escalating rapidly and getting out of hand. Like a malignancy, these militant groups are wreaking havoc on economic activity, safety and wellbeing in the Niger Delta. The situation in Rivers State is perhaps the most dire. Over the last few weeks, there have been the murder of about a dozen traditional chiefs and three expatriates, the kidnapping of Chinese, Korean and other expatriates of other nationalities - workers of telecommunication and other industries unrelated to the oil industry, a jailbreak and a few car bomb explosions. Port Harcourt may very well be Mogadishu or Baghdad.

While this utter breakdown of law and order is running wild, the governor of River State, the President of Nigeria and other officials whose business it is to secure the oil city are busy attending to political intrigues and scheming in a bid to entrench their protégés in power and protect their debauched interests after they leave office on May 29, 2007. Nigerian oil production in the second half of 2006 was reduced by as much as 600,000 barrels a day, resulting in a loss of over $4.4 billion in revenue (2.3% of the national GDP) due to disruption in oil production as a result of the activities of these militant groups.

If nothing is done to stem this wave of banditry and terrorism, and the phenomenon is allowed to take root, Nigeria toys with a situation where these militias would be in control of fractious enclaves in the Niger Delta. Anarchy will prevail; lawlessness, mayhem, gang wars and terrorism will be the order of the day, making the region ungovernable. There is no telling what debilitating effect this would have on economic activities in the region. The decay of other developmental indices that follow will be unfathomable. Without security, no one, expatriate or indigenous, would feel safe to conduct business in the Niger Delta; without economic activities, there will be poverty, illiteracy, diseases, socio-cultural decay and increased crime rate. The Niger Delta will find itself in a death spiral, and life in the region will be akin to what obtains in the lawless militia-controlled regions of the world of the likes of Kabul, Darfur, Baghdad and Gaza.

What needs to be done without delay is for the security forces, specifically the military, to be deployed to combat this unwholesome phenomenon. This means that the Nigerian government needs to allocate more than the measly $1.5 billion it budgeted to the military in 2006. Like cancer, the Niger Delta militancy needs to be attended with urgent radical treatment else it will metastasize and overwhelm the country, and Nigeria may soon find itself immersed in another civil war, only this time, several times more deadly than Biafra.

4 comments:

OmoIbadan said...

I can assure you there wont be a second civil war, naija is too far gone for that to be possible, but I agree with you on the issues of the Niger Delta and if Obasanjo or whosoever is heading the govt thinks that by giving the vice-presidency slot of PDP to an ijaw man will quel the restiveness of the militants he sure has more coming his way.

azuka said...

Of the so-called $1.5 billion allocated I'm sure a lot of it disappears into thin air.

Speaking of handling the militants, I don't think the present government is going to do anything. They're almost out. Nobody cares about leaving a legacy when handing over.

Things are certainly going to be tough for whoever gets in.

Nilla said...

I agree with you.
This Niger Delta situation is a serious one, and it's just escalating.
If nothing is done to stop these happenings, I fear...

Veracity said...

Omoibadan,
My sentiments exactly. Jonathan Goodluck's VP nomination is nothing but a red herring.

Azuka,
OBJ has just allocated $2 Billion to equip the military. Let's hope this is not frittered away into secret Swiss accounts.

Nilla,
My fear is for the common folk, defenseless women and children, who unfortunately bear the brunt of civil strife.