Lately, the issue of criminality through the bombings and vandalization of oil and gas pipelines in the Niger Delta region has been on the front burner of public discourse in the Nigerian political space because of its attendant effects on national security and well being of generality of the people.One is saddened by the fact that these acts of criminality by unscrupulous elements is daily taking its toll on the economy which is reflected in governments inability to discharge its constitutional responsibility to the Nigerian people and on businesses and the people themselves through epileptic power supply, increase in price of domestic cooking gas, hike in price of kerosene, worsening financial status of governments culminating in the nonpayment of salaries and pensions of workers for months and non fulfillment of other financial obligations among several others, itâ€™s really unfortunate.
However, one has watched as the Federal government in being responsible to its oath of office seems to be pursuing civilized means of engagement to curtail the activities of these criminal elements who are masquerading as freedom fighters but whose modus operandi is a pointer to the conspiracy of disgruntled political and economic elements who have resolved that Nigerians will not know peace for freely exercising their constitutionally guaranteed democratic rights at the 2015 polls as against the political wishes of agents of the old order who threatened violence and war.
Unfortunately, true to their words which they voiced before the general elections, we have seen a manifestation of the threats by acts of violence being carried out by elements from a particular ethnic nation within the Niger Delta region, who have continually assaulted the sensibilities of the peace loving people of the Niger Delta by assuming claims of sole ownership of Nigeria’sÂ oil which we all know is endowed by God in the entire region peopled by over 100 ethnic nationalities. So, one doesnâ€™t need to go far or seek a seer to decipher the agenda for this destruction of national assets and threat to the peace and economic wellbeing of innocent nationalities of the region in particular and Nigerians in general, other than that, it is political.
For the records, one needs to make it very clear to discerning minds that the Niger Delta region of Nigeria where oil exploration takes place isÂ made up of 9 states namely; Ondo, Bayelsa, Abia, Edo, Delta, Rivers, Cross River, Akwa Ibom and Imo states. These states are made of so many ethnic nationalities and you want to ask, where and when did the peace loving people of the region come together to aggregate their demands in a charter to be championed by groups like Niger Delta Avengers through criminal bombings and destruction of oil and gas pipelines as well as the assault and killings of oil workers and security operatives?
Itâ€™s a fact that the state of affairs of criminality in the Niger Delta region over the years is a culmination of so many factors which includes but not limited to the neglect, environmental degradation, arming and manipulation of unemployed youths, unconstitutional empowerment of persons and groups through oil pipelines protection contract and abdication of governmental responsibility of protection of lives and property by not frontally confronting oil bunkering, oil theft, kidnappings and payment for ransom which assumed a life of its own in the Niger Delta region and has been escalated to other parts of the country today, of which the whole country is battling these security challenges.
Therefore, in fashioning a way out for resolving the criminality in the Niger Delta region, one would like to recommend that the Federal Government should adopt the carrot and stick approach by engaging all relevant stakeholders, most especially the oil companies, community, traditional and religious institutions, youths, etc in the Niger Delta by sensitization about the danger posed to their immediate environment and economy by oil spillage caused by acts of bombing and vandalization of oil and gas pipelines.
The stakeholders must be continuously engaged to appreciate the benefits of ensuring peace for economic development of the region which is greatly endangered by the criminality of some few who donâ€™t represent the collective interest of the people and are causing unimaginable damages to the environment as well as the economy of the state and the country in general.
In engaging the stakeholders in the Niger Delta region, it is important to admonish the Nigerian government that they donâ€™t represent themselves but the will, integrity and sovereignty of the Nigerian people which is sacrosanct and so, at no time, must they enter into dialogue or discussion of any form with persons or groups who have taken the law into their hands by undermining national peace and security through criminality because persons and groups with similar mindset in the Niger Delta region and other parts of the country are watching and waiting to exploit same unconstitutional and illegal route. To do otherwise, will amount to subverting the integrity and honour of the Nigerian people to whom criminality as a form of expression of grievance no matter how legitimate, is unacceptable.