Solution To The Niger Delta Problem: How To Appease The Warring Militants – Tony Ogunlowo

solution the niger delta problem

August 28, 2016 – Solution To The Niger Delta Crisis: How To Appease The Warring Militants – Tony Ogunlowo

Ever since oil was discovered in the Niger Delta more than sixty years ago the lives of the people, there, has been blighted by widespread ecological and environmental pollution. It has reduced people’s life expectancy, led to the abandonment of their primary occupations as farmers and fishermen as oil pollution has destroyed both land and fishing grounds. There is widespread unemployment and general unrest. This has led to general dissatisfaction amongst the people and is partially to blame for the renewed calls for the re-establishment of the defunct Biafra republic.

Disillusioned and unemployed youths have taken to arms destroying pipelines and installations and kidnapping oil workers in a bid to get something back. These groups go by many names and the notable of all, presently, is the Niger Delta Avengers – who are currently negotiating with the government. Apart from frequently wreaking havoc on oil installations they also frequently battle each other. In the past fifteen years the Federal Government has had to frequently send troops down to the region to try and restore law and order.

Unfortunately the damage is done. The multi- national oil companies operating in the region have been allowed to get away with so much for so long considering the fact there are no laws in Nigeria forcing them to clean-up or invest in the areas. Also over the course of over fifty years the oil companies have colluded with both military and civilian governmental officials to have things their own way. The 1995 execution of the environmentalist/writer Ken Saro Wiwa exposed BPs complicity in his death and connivance with the then government of the late Sanni Abacha.

In recent years there have been attempts to appease the warring militants of the region to the extent of bribing them to lay down their arms and sending some abroad to gain further education. There have also been feeble attempts at a clean-up operation.

Unfortunately both attempts have failed. Paying off the militants hasn’t convinced them to lay down their arms. Not only is it not a lasting solution to the problem it has encouraged rogue splinter groups to emerge to earn ‘easy money’ from the government. Leaders of such groups have become tin gods who have splashed out money received on 4X4 jeeps and a luxurious lifestyle ignoring the masses they claim to represent. And the clean-up of the polluted areas will take forever – if an attempt is even made to start.

Nothing will work until the Federal Government forces the oil companies to take full responsibility for their actions. When the BP- operated DeepWater Horizon oil rig exploded in 2010 killing eleven workers and causing a massive oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico the American government not only forced BP to clean-up but fined the company more than $4 Billion Dollars- and that’s not counting other pending private lawsuits against the company. This money will be used by the government to compensate and rehabilitate all those affected by the disaster.

Though it will be virtually impossible to get the oil companies operating in Nigeria to agree to do a clean-up a forced levy can be imposed upon them for re-development of the region.

Call it a ‘Niger Delta Re-Development Fund’ where monies collected from the oil companies will be used to relocate worst-affected smaller communities(if need be) to new settlements, to provide social amenities, education and most important of all – employment!

Someone robbed of their health and livelihood by oil pollution is bound to turn to mischief. The oil industry is a vast industry that employs thousands of workers every year. Why not make it a priority to recruit, exclusively, from the local indigenes first? Why not give the job of clean-up operations to these Niger militants to keep them out of trouble? The oil industry has a lot of tertiary companies that support their operations. Why not force these companies to re-locate to these districts or get them to establish branches in theses improvised areas? If you establish a company, for instance, that dry cleans/launders workers overalls and employ fifty local people you are actually taking fifty people off the street who might otherwise be troublesome.

Also, education is very important here and should not be forgotten. Most of the militants, currently terrorizing the region, are in their late teens or early twenties and giving them access to a good education will give them a better chance in life. Already some schemes are in place that provides scholarships but it needs to be more widespread.

Establish a tax-free or low-tax zone to encourage both domestic and foreign investors. Foreign trawlers who come to fish off our waters would more than likely be interested in owning a processing plant in such an area instead of having to freeze their catch and cart it off to their countries.

Since the discovery of oil in the Niger Delta all the indigenous cottage industries have all but disappeared. With proper funding, probably from government backed micro-finance banks, this can be revitalised. This will give the local indigenes an alternative source of income to what they’ve lost from farming and fishing.

Bribing militants or confronting them, leaving oil companies un-governed and un-checked and coming up with impossible schemes to clean-up the pollution will never solve the Niger Delta problem.

Getting the Niger Delta militants educated, employed and out of trouble and dealing with the oil companies with a more firmer hand will.

[Article by Tony Ogunlowo]

8 thoughts on “Solution To The Niger Delta Problem: How To Appease The Warring Militants – Tony Ogunlowo

  1. THANKS, MR TONY OGUNLOWO. THE MAIN PROBLEM WE FACE in this country is government corruption. BP was fined to that enormous amount of money when their oil spilled into the sea, and was forced to clean it up because there was no way they could bribe the whole government officials of the US. If it was here, some money would change hands to ensure that the company would not live up to their obligation. This country is highly hypocritical.

  2. @Tony i wish you are the President of this country.. what a wonderful thought…better still you can share this on your twitter page tagging those confused personnel involve if they will listen.. kudos bro.

    #IT_CAN_ONLY_GET_BETTER

  3. Let me score you mark for bringing to the limelight how ‘lives of the people living in niger delta region has been blighted by widespread ecological and environmental pollution’.

    If we have ever gone to the niger delta region particularly to those areas affected by oil pollution and see things for ourselves,it is only by then we will come to see why there is so much anger,rage,agitation among the indigenous leaders,the youths,the elites and the well educated ones that know there right living in that part of the country. I am absolutely correct to say that the level of the ecological and environmental damage done resulting from continuous oil spills and drilling from that region is the worst we have ever witness in the history of our country. Crops are no longer growing well in those lands because of unstoppable oil spills and people are no more killing fishes in the pond. As a native of delta/imo state but was born and brought up in lagos,I can confirm to you that the situation there is terrible. You need to come and take a walk through villages where this oil companies with there various rigs are situated and take a closer look at there rivers,honestly you will be dumbfounded and speechless. Virtually all the community dwellers living in those affected region have not received a single coin as a form of compensation in there entire life. At that particular moment, where your thought will most likely go to, is our governors in those oil producing states.

    An increasing number of people living in the affected areas have being robbed of there source of livelihoods causing unspeakable level of poverty among the locals.

    This is a region where environmental quality and sustainability are fundamental to their overall wellbeing and development. Its also a region where more than 60 percent of people depend on the natural environment for their livelihood. In fact the level of poverty in the niger delta region is in sharp contrast with the wealth generated by there oil revenue into the nation’s accounts. Niger delta region is an area that deserve it wealth to be spent on it but has now become one of the world’s starkest and most disturbing example of the resource ”curse”.

    My dear mr Ogunlowo your points are in order but those vital suggestions will never work without good governors and top politicians in those niger delta states region.

    The nigerian federal government have been paying what is known as 13% derivation funds to the Niger Delta state governments. And this fund belong exclusively to the oil producing communities in the niger delta region. And ever since FG started disbursing this money through the federation account since the year 2003 till last year,that money has amounted to #7.282 trillion for niger delta region alone! This money is meant for the development of most especially the affected communities in those states. So the question now is,where are those money? We can’t direct the question to anyone except to those corrupt bastard governors who have served those region in the last 13 years. This is the more reason why I don’t believe parting or splitting the nation is the solution to our problem rather our fight should be directed to include the corrupt governors especially in the Niger delta region that have been serving that region since the past 13 years. Buhari need to intensify his anti corruption war and must bring every corrupt officials to stand trial.

    The lasting solution however is this:
    (1), Buhari should order the audit of the oil revenue coming from the oil producing niger Delta states region.

    (2),Buhari should order a probe into the complains laid by the community leaders during jonathans administration of the alleged misuse of the 13% derivative funds by there past governors.

    (3),federal government should stop the disbursement of 13% derivative fund through the niger delta states governments accounts.

    (4). The federal government should set up a committee comprising an executive chairman,secretary and members to administer the 13% percent derivation fund.

    (5), the committee should be rotated among oil and gas producing states every four years to avoid possible marginalisation.

    (6),yearly audit should be carried out on that fund and must be monitored by the federal government alone and not the state government.

    (7)forced fine and clean up should be imposed on any oil company that causes any oil spill in any community in the niger delta region.

    President Muhammadu buhari need to start dousing the tension in the Niger Delta region if he carry out those suggestions above and ensure that any committee that is to be set up is given close monitoring in order for them to deliver on their mandates.

    If all this powerful suggestions is carried out in that part of the country,no doubt we will live to see a more prosperous niger delta and militants activities of that region will also become history. We will find it hard to differentiate those region from new york city because the federal government and not the state government will see to it that the money is properly spent on it development that its meant for.

  4. The oil companies are not ready to do anything oo. Infact, they’ve already settled enough. Check out what they pay daily to the red cap chiefs, kings and even the illegal taxes youths collects from these companies.

  5. Can’t say much but, I feel the pain some of them are going through especially the people gets nothing . Tony, some of the things you pointed out can’t be possible because THIS IS NIGERIA. I can boldly say more when I see,live, experience & taste what they go through. Till then.

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