TIME FOR THE ” NIGER-DELTA AREA” OF BENUE STATE, NORTH-CENTRAL NIGERIA

 

By Abah Matthew Abah-Enyi

Any nation or people that ignore the impactful lessons of history do so at their own perils. We also have God to thank for the fact that recent signs in the characteristics of history have combined to prove that on, its own, history has begun to take care of its enemies, its traducers who treacherously believe that with time, even it could be twisted in their favors, irrespective of their deserved condemnation,

The gale of masses-ignited revolutions which seared through the Middle-Eastern region of the world in recent times, whose bone warming crackles are becoming more irresistible to hunger-dampened bones in Africa is historys new-found solution to the dullness which time imposes on the pains of misled peoples, nations and their history writers. So in difference to the near-impossibilities that have occurred in Tunisia, Egypt, Libya etc, let us start aplying the lessons we have learnt from recent events of history now, before it applies its new found solution of achieving its own objectives amongst those who refuse to write or learn from its true version.

The Niger Delta region of Nigeria, where President Goodluck Jonathan comes from qualifies in every way material, to be awarded a veritable reference position in the political lexicon of the whole world, not just because of the obvious reasons. The less obvious reasons are the types that can combine to spring a surprise on a nation if they remain ignored for too long. The first of this latest set of reasons is the one that world leaders may ignore to their own perils, I keep repeating! This is the YarAdua theory for achieving peace-The Fair Treatment Theory. the great art of winning a war without having to fight one.

Were we not living in a world dominated by Ostrich Leaders, the economic relief late president Umaru Musa YarAduas Amnesty Theory brought about through the world oil-price index is worthy of emulation and adoption by the United Nations and its armament-wielding sub-units. The fact that a highly sensitive Nigeria stood by Late President YarAdua when he offered the Amnesty and has stood by his successor, Goodluck Jonathan as he implements the offer in accordance with its spirit and letters, to the benefit of Nigeria, the Niger- Delta region and indeed the whole world in pursuit of fairness and justice as a national policy remains a fact of history that is well-grounded.

The Southern Senatorial District of Benue state, peopled by the Idoma speaking people of the state is seething with a high-tensioned feeling of abandonment brought about by an unacceptably prolonged socio-economic as well as political deprivation and frustration that the recent infrastructural development inclusiveness of the present administration of Governor Gabriel Suswan can hardly begin to assuage. The complete alienation of the area and its people, known over time to be the actual engine room of the states development plans, has engendered in the minds of its people, the kind of feeling that can be comparable to an explosive dynamite too dangerous for the people and the polity in any geopolitical environment. According to an analyst I cross-examined recently after listening to his lamentations, if you take away the land and population sizes, the frustration-baked anger in Benues South Senatorial District is a veritable rehash of the pre-amnesty situation on the ground in the Niger Delta region of Nigeria.

The second of the not-too-obvious reasons why Nigerias Niger Delta Area must assume a historical position in our political lexicon is the election and assumption of office of President Goodluck Jonathan. When the President looks Nigerians in the eyes from the podium and tells them, if I can make it, you too can make it? a preponderance of the citizens believe he speaks from the bottom of his mind because they are quite familiar with the circumstances of his emergence as President. An unlikely University lecturer turned Deputy Governor; then an unassuming Governor,Vice President, Acting President, President and then an elected President, against all the odds, the most popular of which was the controversial rotational presidency agreement of the Peoples Democratic Party. These impossibilities were surmounted by President Jonathan because the conscience of the nation and its people pinched them and prodded them to let the son of a people, the Niger Delta people, whose land has borne the brunt of the nations golden egg, her oil wealth, to lead them for a moment, irrespective of the contents of any other national moral baggage. It simply amounts to a pay back time, a time to heal past wounds, to prove to ourselves that past injustices were not our collective deeds and that on a good day, we are a nation with a conscience, re-branding in action.

Conclusion: The Niger Delta Amnesty Project and president Goodluck Jonathans election and assumption of office are matters of historical significance because the Nigerian nation and her people have paid a moral debt to a people they had owed a mighty one for too long, Now that this conscience cleansing debt has been paid to the long-deserving Niger delta Area, is it not timely for the nation to swing her attention to the numerous other Niger Delta Areas spread across the country? Nigerians believe it is!

There are too many Niger Delta Areas in Nigeria, metaphorically speaking. The only difference between these other Niger Delta Areas and president Goodluck Jonathans home base are their geographical locations. Most of the other points that define President Jonathans Niger Delta are prevalent across Nigeria. There are political Niger Delta Areas as in the entire southern part of Benue state as there are other Environmental Niger Delta Areas in Yunusari/Yusufari Local Government Areas of Yobe State and other desert-ravaged states of Northern Nigeria. The whole of South-Eastern Nigeria stands out like a sore thumb as a political Niger Delta Area.. This is the time to bring these Niger Delta Areas of Nigeria to the fore-front of the countrys Survival Agenda as this writer will try to do in this every auspicious moment of the nations history.

And so what? What can Nigerians do? Particularly, what can the much-vanquished people of Benue South Senatorial District do? Hunger and hunger management are their first and last priorities in that respective order. So what else can these Niger Delta Areas do if they continue to be ignored so long as a few of their own are afforded assess to the fruits others harvest from their years of deprivations? How many Nigerians can afford the means and know-how to use Facebook, the Information and Communication Technology Social Utility that has facilitated the people-based uprisings that have consumed many rogue regimes across the world? These are the self-assuring questions that can be asked amongst those on the corridors of power who do not wish Nigeria well.

The comfort feelings that constipate the bellies and minds of those who pollute the Nigerian social-political air of justice and fairness is the very stuff those bound for the dustbins of history are usually imbued with. The manner in which the blood and bones of Niger Delta Social Justice martyrs like Isaac Boro and Ken Saro Wiwa stirred the minds and bodies of Niger- Delta youths into life-risking actions before the advent of the amnesty will soon replicate itself across Nigeria, if the lessons learnt from there die with the present placation of the people of the area. The other Niger-Delta Areas unattended problems can consume Nigeria.

As a tip of the iceberg, and starting from the middle of Nigeria, one nationality that has stood vanquished and wickedly deprived of virtually everything that gives a people any semblance of a sense of belonging and patriotic obligations, including state citizenship (even if briefly) is the Idoma speaking people of Benue state. A bastion of human resources that has contributed immensely to the nurturing of national and state industries into maturity over the years, all that the southern senatorial district of Benue state have to show their children is the documented history of plucking them out of such state industries at the onset of harvest times. The last time their youths and intellectual Turks stormed Abuja with a demand for the creation of Apah state as a first and only viable step away from slavery, it was evident to anyone who had even the briefest encounter with them that they really must have had it up to their necks and only God knows what their next actions would be if Apah state does not come quickly enough. Some of of their outspoken intellectuals who spoke to me lament that they are being pushed to the wall because they have come to be known over time as law abiding citizens who would ever remain complacent in the face of any form of intimidation.

Thank God for democratic governance, the time has come for all our institutions of state, the formal and the informal ones inclusive, to set up War- room Councils against warfare, whose major duties would be to QUICKLY right all the wrongs that have been to  the Niger-Delta Areas of the rest of Nigeria, to keep the country away from a journey towards  self-destruct

 

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