The world is aware that for over five decades, since oil was discovered in commercial quantity in the Niger Delta region, a fierce war has been raging between ethnic and social forces in the Niger Delta region of Nigeria.
As a direct consequence, a long dark shadow has been cast on the efforts to improve the well-being and economic development of the region’s individual, peoples and community. Again, it will not in any way be characterized as an overstatement that there exists established beliefs by the Niger Deltans and Civil Society Organizations (CSO) that the region in the estimation of the International Oil Companies (IOCs), is an endangered species strategically marked for extinction, using neglect as a formidable tool.
What is however ‘interesting’ and attracts the editorial attention of the Ika Weekly Newspaper, is the renewed cries of marginalization with threats of hostility from different communities, kingdoms, tribes and groups in the region, if the Federal Government fails to address their demands.
These communities going by reports include but not limited to are; the Omadino Federated Communities, an umbrella body for Itsekiri communities of the Delta State. And the Gbaramatu Kingdom, a major contributor to the economy of the nation and one of the prominent Kingdoms among the Ijaw people in the Niger Delta, located in Warri South West Local Government Area of Delta State, Nigeria. The two agitators includes; the Thirteen Niger Delta militant groups, former beneficiaries of the Federal Government’s amnesty programme, organised under the aegis of the Coalition of Niger Delta Agitators (CNDA), and Niger Delta ex-militants, under the auspices of the 21st Century Youths of the Niger Delta and Agitators with Conscience (21st CYNDAC), should be to all a reality for all Nigerians to worry about.
A reflection on these threats, says one thing. The government-both State and Federal must not allow this threat to happen for the sake of the nascent peace in the area and for the stability of the nation’s economy.
It is the newspaper’s opinion that the government must do something to avert this situation. It is in the interest of the government to do that as a formidable way of curbing crime and reducing threatening insecurity in the country. It should be done not merely for political consideration but from the views of national development and sustenance of our democracy.
Indeed, the Board of Ika Weekly Newspaper admits that there is no single answer to the multi-faceted plights of the people of Niger Delta, but be that as it may, it is our opinion that the place to start is that of addressing government’s insensitivity and failures in the region.
To effectively confront this the Federal Government needs to take responsibility and come up with steps for a strong, aggressive leadership by addressing the issues of weak regulation on the parts of its ministries and agencies, tackle the oil companies lackadaisical handling of the environment, and ensure compliance by the oil firms with the implementation of the Global Memorandum of Understanding (GMOU) entered with host communities.
Though faced with interminable socioeconomic and environmental challenges, one thing is sure. Niger Deltans are troubled but not despondent. A situation that makes it easy for them to be managed and contained if only the Federal Government could come up with a plan and will to tackle the challenges as currently faced by the people of the region.