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*Nigeria: In Defence of MEND
Though there are other militant groups operating in the Niger delta, the movement for the emancipation of the niger delta (MEND) is considered as the umbrella organization of all the youths of the niger delta, fighting for their rights. The perceived objectives of the group have two sides. While the government and other foreign beneficiaries see MEND as a terrorist group trying to sabotage their effort to explore oil, the youths and most people of Nigeria on the other hand see them as a group of oppressed Nigerian youths trying to expose the unfair exploitation of the masses in the Niger delta by the Nigerian government, in partnership with some foreign corporations.
Though these 2 points of view can be challenged by Sympathizers depending on the side they Sympathize with, the facts from any neutral point of view will show that the people of the Niger delta have suffered an unprecedented degradation of their environment due to unchecked pollution produced by the oil industry. The people of the area have no ability to engage in fishing and farming,the two major occupations in the region because of oil exploration. They also have nothing to show for it, because oil revenues are rarely seen by the people.
No right thinking individual will expect the youths of the area to fold their arms and watch themselves and other kinsman and women being polluted and starved out of existence by the Nigerian government and other multinationals. I have been coming across commentaries made by people mostly government Sympathizers, who are out of touch with reality. They always condemn MEND blindly without pausing to think of the situation that forced those industrious youths of the delta into militancy. ( Continues below..... )
Photo Above: Movement for the Emancipation of the Niger Delta (MEND) militants
Though I am not in support of violence in any form, I am also not is support of oppression and daylight robbery. The people of the Niger delta are really in need of people who will look at their situation from a human perspective. I believe the late president Umaru Musa Yar'adua granted amnesty to the youths of the Niger delta because he considered their situation from a humanitarian point of view. The re-integration programme that followed the amnesty has so far been fairly implemented,but the government needs to speed up the implementation before the youths of the delta region get tired of the slow pace.
What amuses me most in the whole oil money saga, is the misinformation being encouraged by the elites who enjoy most of the revenue generated from oil exploration. An average person from the Niger delta is encouraged to believe that a large chunk of the oil revenue goes to the Northerners, while the Northerners are encouraged to believe that most of the oil revenue goes to the people of the Niger delta.
I will like to use this medium to denounce both claims, because the average Northerner is as poor as an average Nigerian from the Niger delta if not worse. The fact is, the oil revenue goes into the pockets of the political class, irrespective of the region they come from. They are conspiring and conniving in unison to loot and starve Nigerians.
The Niger delta as an oil producing region really deserves a lot more. They deserve to get more from the oil revenue being generated, considering the pains they go through due to oil exploration. By saying the Niger delta, I mean the people not some elites or political jobbers who collect and divert funds meant for the industrious and courageous people of the Niger delta.
MEND, on its own part should make sure it controls its members and avoid attacking innocent civilians who have no hand in oppressing and depriving them. They should continue to struggle till they achieve what they have sacrificed so much to achieve. At least we know what they are fighting for.
Amiru Adamu is the publisher of Northern Wind Magazine.
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