Friday, July 25, 2008

A fate made in Niger Delta

A trumpeter must attend to the boil on his lips with uttermost circumspection - Nigerian proverb

TOO many reckless advisers have found spaces in the thinking that tends to form this government’s policy thrust on the Niger Delta. If they do not advise military action, they abuse the inhabitants of the region for its wanton policy thrust.
It is easy to forget that Nigeria ’s fate is tied to the Niger Delta. There have been hints that the hostilities in the region will adversely affect funding of the 2008 budget (still under going amendments). This position is being economical with the truth. Without a peaceful and quick resolution of the Niger Delta, very little progress will be made in almost all spheres of our national life.

Oil is central to the economy. It drives and gives all the States and Local Government Councils their only steady source of revenue. The Federal Government cannot meet its obligations without the oil wells running at steady steam.

The seemingly most important programme of this administration – the power emergency – is ruined without peace in the Niger Delta. Most of the proposed projects, and the ones under construction, will depend on gas from the region. How will they succeed? Can Nigeria get out of its electricity problems without the gas from the Niger Delta?

Unfortunately, the kind of attention the Niger Delta gets results in a full-blown war of attrition for Nigeria . Those suggesting military action are under the illusion that it would bring fast resolution to the militancy of the youths and ensure steady flow of the oil wells.

There are no guarantees. While the military action lasts, would oil exploration continue? Can Nigeria survive further shut down of its oil wells? Would the military action stamp out restiveness if the current issues remain unattended?

Nigeria has to explore all the opportunities for peaceful resolution of the issues. We condemn the criminality that has crept into the legitimate agitations for meaningful lives for the region that keeps the economy humming. Governments also have to accept responsibility for refusing to listen to these agitations before they grew to these indiscernible proportions.

President Umaru Musa Yar’Adua and his team inherited the problem, but like those before them, they are still immersed in the comfort of playing government instead of getting to grips with an enormous headache.

The feeble steps the administration has taken so far show it had poor plans to solve this problem. Like in the past, concerns over the Niger Delta only grow when unstable crude oil supplies result in low revenues for Nigeria . Those concerns hardly go beyond measures to restore certainty in national earnings from oil.

However, a trumpeter cannot live forever with a boil on his lips. How he bursts it without mortally hurting himself is the type of challenge that lies before this government.