*The Problem With The Niger Delta
( An Xclusivenigeria Commentary )
By Babatunde Rafiu
It is easy, convenient and fashionable to blame the Federal government for the underdevelopment in the Niger Delta region. This is the position of the editors of www.xclusivenigeria.com, Nigeria's internet newspaper. Indeed, this tendency is the recourse of Niger Delta politicians and so-called activists when they are held liable by their own people for the under-development in the region. Many an educated indigene of this troubled, oil-rich region, which lays the nation’s golden eggs, is quick to point fingers at the federal authorities, and so far for that matter, are the ordinary folk.
Local politicians and traditional rulers from the region have built and honed their careers on this profitable enterprise. Blaming the federal government is an effective tactic too. And for good reason. By Nigeria's peculiar federal system, the government controls the purse strings of the region’s vast oil resources, and indeed of all the mineral resources in the land. Using such parameters as population, geography, needs and other debatable indices, the authorities fund the states annually by allocating monies from the Federation Account. But critics have suggested that some states get more when they should get less.
Needless to say, almost 96 percent of the Federal Budget is based on oil revenue, which of course is produced by the Niger Delta region. Since the discovery of oil deposits in Oloibiri village in the Niger Delta in the 50s, Nigeria has made trillions of dollars from oil export, and as we have stressed earlier, the country now depends wholly on this enterprise, an untoward situation which has made the authorities at both federal and state levels to jettison agriculture on which the nation once depended in the 60s.
Indeed Nigeria was once a world-famous agricultural nation, acknowledged as the producer of such export commodities as cocoa, groundnuts, timber, cotton and palm oil. Today the nation is a world-famous importer of everything from toothpicks to toilet paper. We, the editors of www.xclusivenigeria.com, Nigeria’s internet newspaper, want to join other Nigerians in asking: What went wrong? That is a subject for another day. Since the Federal government controls the purse strings, allegations and claims of discrimination, unfairness, favoritism and lopsidedness in the allocation of federally generated revenue is a past time of communities who feel unfairly treated and of so-called opinion leaders in various beer parlors across the land.
With a multiplicity of ethnic groups, many of which were independent nation states in their own right hundreds of years ago, forging a true Nigerian nation about 105 years after the amalgamation of Nigeria by British colonialists, have been a will-o-the-wisp. The agitation by the oil-producing Niger Delta region for a fair deal in the Federation symbolizes this contentious atmosphere. The agitation has spawned a militant movement with often controversial and debatable legitimacy. The writer and playwright Ken Saro Wiwa, executed along with several other activists by the late dictator General Sani Abacha, gave the Niger Delta agitation international recognition.
Saro Wiwa's execution ignited a militant movement in the Niger Delta region sworn to propagating the yearnings of the people not by dialogue but by force of arms. The daredevil militants have gone from asking for a better deal in the federation to asking for control of their oil resource. Resorting to kidnapping oil workers for ransom and bombing oil facilities appear to have besmirched their objectives, and pitted themselves against the federal authorities who have offered a carrot and stick approach to quell the uprising and to rein in the militants.
The government’s spirited attempts to meet the militants half way and to boost the Niger Delta's recognition in the scheme of things appear not to have appeased the agitation. Niger Delta politicians and local rulers who have thrived on the status quo, have practically hinged their careers and livelihood on providing political leadership to the agitation for a better deal for the region. As we have argued, it is fashionable for them to blame the Federal government for the region's woes. However, despite many concessions in the past, as we have posited, and with vast resources at their disposal, these politicians have sadly failed to put these resources to good use.
As attractive a punching bag as the government is, and indeed as blameworthy as it appears, and perhaps rightly so, the people of the region have apparently failed to come to terms with perhaps the key source of their problems: the corruption, ineptitude and greed of the region's politicians and local rulers. The Niger Delta states have received billions of dollars from the Federation Account over the years -or perhaps more revenue than other non-oil producing states-but there is nothing on ground in the states to show how these vast resources have been spent. Niger Delta politicians and local rulers have failed their people.
Working in cahoots with oil companies, they have enthroned a feudal system of the haves-and-the-have-nots, and have elected to lord it over those whom they are supposed to be serving.
We, the editors of www.xclusivenigeria.com, Nigeria's internet newspaper, propose that by their actions and inactions, these politicians and local rulers have helped to create the quagmire that is the Niger Delta crisis. They are as liable as the oil companies which have been exploiting the region's resources for decades with extreme prejudice, and without regards to the welfare and destinies of the people. Some may argue that Niger Delta's political elite may indeed be more liable. Perhaps so. Indeed those who hold this view would appear to appeal to a larger audience.
In our view, the solution to the problems of the Niger Delta is not far-fetched. It is simply and squarely that of delivering good government. To continue to perpetuate bad government, unaccountability, corruption and ineptitude in government will serve the Niger Delta no good. Not today. Not tomorrow. Not only will the region’s political leaders be held accountable someday in the future for their stewardship or lack thereof, they will sow the seeds for poverty, hunger and squalor in their communities. Only political strife and social instability can result from such short-sightedness. Or perhaps mean-mindedness?
Nobody will deny that elected leaders and other politicians are entitled to the perks of office. That is the way of public office. Or isn’t it? But what the citizenry are saying, and we say too, is that these democracy dividends should be extended to the citizenry as well. What is the purpose of democracy if the people do not share in its booty? Need we say more?
Photo Above: Map of Nigeria's Niger Delta Region showing Port Harcourt
*Tags: Nigerians, Niger, Delta, Xclusivenigeria, Commentary, Abuja, Lagos, Africa, Masterweb
*Ghana Women Defeat Nigeria To Qualify For AAG Games
By Sammy Wejinya
Ghana’s Black Queens put paid to Nigeria’s hopes of competing in the Women’s football event at this year’s All Africa Games with 2-1 victory over Nigeria’s Super Falcons at the Ohene Djan Stadium, Accra on Sunday. The first leg, a fortnight ago in Abuja, ended 1-1 meaning the the Nigerian ladies had to score in Accra in the decider to stand any chance off booking a flight to Maputo, Mozambique for Africa’s own version of the Olympic games. They went about their business in the perfect manner when star forward, Perpetua Nkwocha opened the scoring on 11 minutes. The Ghanainans however battled back and scored twice, the back breaking coming in second half added time to strike a dagger in ......Read More
*Tags: Nigerians, Black, Queens, Defeat, Ghana, All, Games, Falcons, Africa, Masterweb
*Iraq May Ban Smoking
By Jack Healey
In a country where the power supply blinks off several times a day, where filling up on petrol can take hours and motorists stew in endless traffic jams, smoking is one pursuit that seems blissfully easy. A pack of cigarettes costs as little as 15p. They are everywhere, sold from mud-brick sheds along main roads, from card tables set up on city pavements and at countless shops throughout Baghdad. And you can light up almost anywhere, in buses, lifts and hospitals, even inside Iraq's parliament. But following the lead of Scotland, the rest of Britain, France, America and other western nations, Iraqi MPs are now seeking to marginalise smoking in public life, much to the annoyance of many of their constituents. Today they are set to consider a law banning smoking in ......Read More
*Tags: Nigerians, Iraq, Smoking, Mps, Ban, Africa, Masterweb
*Nigerian Islamist In U.S. Married 107 Wives, Has 185 Children
Meet a Nigerian Islamic faith healer and polygamist man who has made marriage a full-time job, taking 107 brides and fathering 185 children. According to the Los Angeles Times, Bello Maasaba, now 87, is currently married to 86 wives between the ages of 19 and 64. He has buried nine spouses and divorced 12 and his youngest child is one month old. “I get a revelation from God telling me any woman I’m going to marry,” the New York Daily quoted Maasaba as telling the Times. “If it wasn’t from God, I wouldn’t have gone beyond two,” he added. The polygamist lives with his family in ......Read More
Photo Above: Bello Maasaba
*Tags: Nigerians, Islamist, Wives, Children, Bello, Maasaba, Africa, Masterweb
*Nigeria: Goodluck Jonathan's Car Attacked in Uganda
By Nicholas Bariyo
Ugandan opposition supporters hurled stones at a car carrying Nigeria's President Goodluck Jonathan as he visited the country to attend President Yoweri Museveni's swearing-in ceremony in the capital Kampala, a government spokesman said Thursday. The Ugandan security forces fired at the protesters, killing one person, Fred Opolot, the head of ......Read More
*Tags: Nigerians, Goodluck, Jonathan, Car, Attacked, President, Uganda, Africa, Masterweb
*NATO Bombs Gaddafi's Compound, 3 Killed, 25 Wounded
Nato air strikes hit Muammar Gaddafi's compound on Thursday, hours after the Libyan leader was shown on television for the first time since another aerial attack killed his son nearly two weeks ago. Libyan officials who showed reporters around the scene of the air strike, at Gaddafi's Bab Al Aziziyah compound, said three people had been killed and 25 wounded. The corner of a two-storey building was blown away, leaving fragments of concrete on the street below. Deep craters were left in two other locations around the compound, which has been targeted several times since Nato began its campaign. Government spokesman Mussa Ibrahim said the strikes hit near ......Read More
*Tags: Nigerians, Nato, Gaddafi, Bomb, Compound, Tripoli, Africa, Masterweb
*Bin Laden Sons Say Father's Killing Illegal
By Ariel Zirulnick
Assertions from Osama bin Laden's family that the killing of the Al Qaeda leader was illegal have been dismissed by the White House. “Are you kidding?” said Vice President Joe Biden when asked Tuesday about the family's calls for international bodies to investigate the legality of the assassination. In fact, the family is serious. International law has been "blatantly violated" and the US has set a very different example than "innocent until proven guilty" – a right upon which "western society is built," wrote Omar bin Laden, one of the 9/11 mastermind's 19 children, in a statement provided to the New York Times. He cited the trials for former Iraqi President Saddam Hussein and former Serbian President Slobodan Miloševiæ and asked why his father was not given the same opportunity to defend himself. In the statement, the bin Laden family members called on ......Read More
*Tags: Nigerians, Bin, Laden, Sons, Death, Illegal, Africa, Masterweb
*Libya: NATO Bombs Gaddafi's Compound, Tripoli TV Offices
By Aljazeera Africa
NATO launched missile strikes overnight against targets in the Libyan capital, Tripoli, with blasts heard near Libyan leader Muammar Gaddafi's compound, according to witnesses. They said jets carried out eight strikes in roughly three hours in an unusually heavy bombardment of Tripoli, with four explosions rocking the Libyan capital shortly after 2am [0000 GMT] on Tuesday. They were quickly followed by two more blasts. A resident told Al Jazeera that an intelligence agency was also targeted by the strikes. Late on Monday, witnesses reported two explosions in the capital as jets flew overhead, adding that smoke was rising from ......Read More
*Tags: Nigerians, Imo, Rochas, Anayo, Okorocha, Election, Rerun, Wins, Governorship, Africa, Masterweb
*Nigeria: CPC Goes To Court, Alleges Electoral Fraud
By BBC Africa
Nigeria's biggest opposition party has gone to court challenging President Goodluck Jonathan's election victory and alleging electoral fraud. The Congress for Progressive Change (CPC) wants elections to be rerun in several southern areas, which voted overwhelmingly for Mr Jonathan. The CPC's Muhammadu Buhari gained 32% of the vote, while Mr Jonathan got 59%. The announcement of these results sparked widespread unrest in northern areas which had backed Mr Buhari. An estimated 500 people were killed, thousands of people forced from ......Read More
*Tags: Nigerians, Election, Muhammadu, Buhari, Cpc, Court, Fraud, Africa, Masterweb
*Nigeria: How Jonathan Brokered Deal Between Ohakim, Araraume
By Gbenga Ogunbufunmi
The intervention of President Goodluck Jonathan was the magic that saw Governor Ikedi Ohakim regaining his confidence once more and hoping that the supplementary election ordered by the Independent National electoral Commission (INEC) may go in his favour. Ohakim almost lost to Rochas Okorocha, the All Progressives Grand Alliance (APGA) governorship candidate for Imo State during the April 26 Governorship poll. The election was declared inconclusive in the state with INEC calling for a supplementary poll in some areas which held on Friday. The apprehension created by the few results that were released after the April 26 poll was interpreted by many to mean that ......Read More
*Tags: Nigerians, Imo, Rochas, Anayo, Okorocha, Election, Rerun, Wins, Governorship, Africa, Masterweb
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