United Ijaw * Welcome to United Ijaw on the web. Our preference is national self determination, the independence of Ijawnation as a Sovereign State. A state that promotes sustainable economic and social development, democratic principles, liberty, free enterprise, equal rights and justice. This is our story, this is our struggle. **** On Kaiama Declaration We Stand **** United Nations Under Secretary-General, Dr. Antonio Maria Costa, in Abuja condemned the theft of Nigeria's assets by past corrupt leaders. He said that kleptomaniac leaders stole more than 400 billion dollars from the Nigerian treasury between 1960 and 1999. **** IJAWNATION THINK! THINK. **** Almost $170 billion of the country’s wealth disappeared and ended in the private accounts of individuals between 1999 and 2003 alone... Priye Torulagha ****Nigeria has failed Niger Delta – Nnamani **** Resource Control: Niger-Delta governors are traitors – Evah **** Only the fear of a volcanic social eruption from below can stop barbaric behaviour by holders of political power – Gani Fawehinmi ***** “ if the Confab and Nigerians are not willing to heed to Resource Control, they will take it by force” - Oronto Douglas We Dare To Be Different.
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Strategic Factors and Options: Opportunity for a New Beginning

Strategic Factors and Options: The danger of taking one step forward and two steps backward


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Strategic Factors and Options:  Fighting Legal Fire with Fire


By Priye S. Torulagha


On the surface, it appears as if the Ijaw nation has been stricken by two major lightening bolts, following the arrests of two prominent Ijaw citizens, Chief DSP Alamieyeseigha and Asari Dokubo.  For the politically and legally uninitiated player or amateur, such actions are enough to convince the person to give up the struggle.  Similarly, the two cases are sufficient enough to rock the foundation out of any ethnic group that is not equipped to handle two major legal and political battles at the same time.


There is no doubt that Nigeria desired to deliver a knock out blow, like Mike Tyson, in his heydays.   Hence, it plotted with the British Government to ensure the arrest of Governor Alamieyeseigha while simultaneously arresting Alhaji Asari Dokubo in Port Harcourt, Nigeria.   By such steps, Nigeria intended to inflict legal and political body blows to the Ijaw nation, hoping to defang and neutralize it for good in an effort to ensure uninhibited flow of oil from the Niger Delta.  In the past, Nigeria had

intentionally inflicted military blows by devastating many towns and village, including Odi and Odiama.


Instead of being shaken, the Ijaws should take the two cases as a blessing in disguise.  In fact, they should even welcome more since such actions are needed to wake them up and enable them to realize that they are a in a drawn-out politico-legal guerrilla warfare in which Nigeria is determined to win at all costs.  Only such bodily blows will enable Ijaw public officials, public figures and the elites to stop misbehaving and realize that they must mobilize politically and legally to take the necessary actions to untangle the ethnic nation.


Nigeria used the two cases to send clear messages, one to corrupt public officials that the era of blatant corruption is drawing to a close and the other to warn armed elements that any threat to the territorial integrity of the country would be seriously dealt with.  Of the two cases, the one in London seems to be a little more complicated due to the money laundering charges.  At the present time in the world, anyone who is arrested for allegedly committing embezzlement or misappropriation of public funds or illegal transfer of funds is not very likely to receive a warm reception from the generality of the public since such acts tend to penalize the general public more than the elites.  It is not a secret that the Niger Delta has been devastated by massive corruption emanating from local and national public officials.  On the other hand, in Dokubo’s case, although treason is alleged, nonetheless, it seems to provide the best opportunity for the Ijaw people to legally liberate themselves, if they really want to be free in making decisions about the control of natural resources on their lands. 


The Dokubo’s case has a universal implication, not only for the Niger Delta and Nigeria since almost all the contemporary African, Asian, Middle Eastern, Caribbean, and Latin American countries were created through foreign military aggression.  If the Ijaws legally fight this case to the highest level possible, they would help to set political and legal precedents concerning the legality of states created through foreign military aggression in Africa, Asia, Middle East, and Latin America. In other words, the Ijaws should help to raise the question of the legality of a state created by forced incorporation.  Is it legally proper or legitimate for such a state to gain sovereign status when the citizens were forced at gunpoint to accept  the arrangement?  Since the implication of the Dokubo case is far more reaching, the Ijaws need to mobilize all their resources to fight it.  A forced incorporation is an illegal act, therefore, can an illegality become legal under international law? 


In fighting the treason case, the Ijaws need to do the following:


1.  Assist in recruiting a very competent legal team.  Of course, Festus Keyamo is a legal warrior and cannot be easily intimidated.  He needs all the financial and material support from the people of the Niger Delta and well-wishing Nigerians.


2.  The defense team must insist, as Keyamo has already intimated, the right to cross-examine the prosecution’s witnesses.  Part of the cross-examination must include examining the circumstances under which the witnesses became the eyes and  hears of the government.  This is necessary in order to find out whether they were fifth columnists or paid hands of the federal government.


3.  Part of the strategy must be to challenge the treason charge by arguing that it isimpossible for an Ijaw to commit such act against Nigeria since the Ijaws did not sign any document which transferred their sovereignty to the British Government or Nigeria.  If the Ijaws did not sign any agreement which transferred their sovereignty, technically, it means that the Ijaws are still sovereign.  Since Asari Dokubo is an Ijaw, he enjoys the sovereignty of the Ijaw ethnic nation.  To argue this point successfully, it is crucial to produce all the colonial documents and treaties which the Ijaws signed with the British. Keyamo has already made reference to this possibility.  Mr. Orubebe too had made a statement that the Ijaws never signed any paper to be part of Nigeria. These documents must be produced as evidence.


4.  It is necessary to argue that the Ijaws were forcefully incorporated into Nigeria by aggression, therefore, they did not have the freedom of determinining whether they wanted to be in Nigeria or not.  Based on this logic, the Ijaws, being a colonial subject of Nigeria, have the right to seek self-determination based on the United Nations Declarations concerning Decolonization and Human Rights. This being the case, the defense can add that Asari Dokubo acted in accordance with UN declarations and thus did not commit any treasonable offence against Nigeria.  In this case, it is necessary to tender UN treaties and declarations concerning self-determination for colonized people, as evidence.


5.  To demonstrate the fact that the Niger Delta has never been treated as part of Nigeria, refer to the Willink’s Commission report  which recommended that the region should be treated as a “Special Area.”


6.  Further, argue that the case should be thrown out due to its selective and discriminatory nature.  There are hundreds of people in Nigeria who have made comments similar to the one made by Dokubo but they are not arrested or charged for treason.  To support this argument, provide newspaper clippings made by others in the country.  Show that there is a pattern of discrimination against the citizens of the Niger Delta, thereby, demonstrating the fact that the region and its inhabitants are treated as colonial subjects.  Further, show that by systemically discriminating against the citizens of the Niger Delta, Nigeria has shown that it does not regard the citizens of the region as Nigerians.  Otherwise, Nigeria would have treated all Nigerians equally under the Constitution and laws of the land.


7.  An argument can also be made by maintaining that Dokubo could not be charged for treason since he is from the Niger Delta and Nigeria has treated the Niger Delta like a colonial enclave by discriminating against the region in infrastructural development throughout its existence.  Further, add that if Nigeria truly believes that the Niger Delta is part of the country, it would not have neglected the region throughout its existence, despite the recommendations of the Willink’s Commission in 1958.


8.  Concerning the charges that Dokubo is a member of an armed group, using the argument above, compile a list of such groups in the country.   After doing so,  argue that if belonging to such groups constituted treasonable offence, then question the prosecutor on why Nigeria has not arrested and charged the leaders and followers of all such groups in the country.  Add that since Nigeria is not arresting and charging leaders of such organizations in the country, it means that belonging to such organizations does not  constitute a crime, otherwise, such groups would have been banned and all members would have been arrested and charged for treason.


9.   Based on the logic above, argue that the arrest of Dokubo was politically motivated, if not, every group of such nature would have been banned and the leaders arrested and charged for treason.


10.  To demonstrate the fact that the arrest and charges were politically motivated, let the court know that Nigeria is today a democratic nation.  Generally, in a democratic nation, freedom of speech is allowed.  Show that in the US, Canada, Britain, and many other democratic countries, individuals have spoken about secession or the right to break away without being charged for treason.  Cite Canada, in particular, where politicians and citizens from the Quebec Province have freely spoken about breaking away from the country.  Inform the court that in Canada and other democratic countries, the ballot is used to deal with such political issues and not truncated political charges intended to intimidate citizens. 


11.  Also cite the fact that in the US and other democratic countries, armed interest groups operate freely.   Thus, Asari Dokubo was exercising his democratic right to express frustration over the manner in which Nigeria had treated his people for more than four decades.  Cite instances where he said that he was going to fight for the freedom of his people by using democratic and legal means.  In fact, he was one of the first leaders in Rivers State to agree to negotiate the surrender of arms.   Since then, he has operated openly like any other law-abiding individual.


12.  While this case is going on, either the Ijaw National Congress or the Ijaw Youth Council or a legal body, so constituted, should sue the federal government, demanding reparations and interest from all the monies earned through oil exploration in Ijaw territory.   The suit should be based upon the view that Nigeria expropriated Ijaw lands without permission through intolerable and abusive military decrees.  To support this assertion, demonstrate that the Niger Delta has been militarily occupied to make way for forceful expropriation of the region’s resources.


The issue of expropriation must be demonstrated by showing that the Ijaw people did not sign any paper surrendering their sovereignty to either Britain or Nigeria.  The evidence tendered in the case above can also be used in the suit to justify reparation and or compensation.


Another Ijaw group or a section of the INC or IYC should be responsible for publicity. As the Dokubo case is going on, it is important to publish the documents signed by the Ijaws in an effort to educate the Nigerian public and the entire world about the fact that the Ijaws truly have a legal ground to demand compensation for expropriation of land and resources, environmental damage and economic loses on agriculture and fisheries emanating from oil exploration.


The publicity group should also send copies of such documents to theUnited Nations, the African Union, Economic Community of West African States, the European Union, the United States, Britain, France, Italy, Japan, and Germany.


The suggested legal options might sound outlandish and nonensical, nevertheless, it should be noted that other groups have been deploying similar tactics.  For instance, the Masai in Kenya are trying to reclaim all the lands that were forcibly taken away from them during the colonial era.  Similarly, the San people who have been tremendously discriminated against in South Africa , are working to reclaim their lands.  They are also working to get compensation for the use of the resources on their lands. In fact, the Native Americans in Ecuador successfully used such legal arguments to win cases against oil companies which operated in their territories.


While the Dokubo case provides an excellent ground for the Ijaws to challenge the notion of  the sovereignty of a state created through foreign military aggression, the Ijaws should take a wait and see attitude on the Alamieyeseigha case.  That case involves money laundering of misappropriated public funds.  The people of Bayelsa, like other citizens of the Niger Delta, have suffered tremendously due to massive corruption perpetrated by indigenous public officials.  For instance, according to financial figures posted by brother Francis Udisi on Ijawnation website, Bayelsa  received the following amount from January to June, 2005:


January 2005 ===9,683,195,968.85

February 2005===9,581,588.555.61

March 2005 ====9,294,384,550.67

April 2005 =====8,864,426,419.67

May 2005======8,912,480,940.60

June 2005======7,758,286,156.05


It is very doubtful whether Bayelsa State officials can give a correct account of what was done with all these monies.  In fact, there are still Bayelsan state workers who have not received their salaries for months, despite the monthly federal allocations to the state.  Therefore, it is in the best interest of the people of Bayelsa and the Ijaw people generally that the case in London goes through the legal process so that all the facts are uncovered.


The governor’s case provided an excellent opportunity for the Ijaw nation to play high level diplomatic politics internationally.  However, the ethnic nation, through the INC and IYC leadership,  failed to do so.  Instead, the politics of reaction was manifested.  Reactive politics has a negative implication and does not seem to boost the image of the ethnic group.   For instance, sending someone to Aso Rock to plead with the president and other power-wielders was both strategic and tactical mistakes.   It portrayed the ethnic group as people who cannot stand on the principle of Izonism (truth).  The president and other power-wielders knew immediately that they had gotten the Ijaws, so, they ignored the Ijaw entourage who trooped to Abuja.  Moreover, why did any Ijaw leader think that the president would make an exception on the case of the governor, taking into consideration the fact that the president did not make an exception in the case of Chief Tafa Balogun.  Chief Balogun is a Yoruba and a close associate of the president.  Similarly, threatening British interest was a diplomatic blunder internationally since it sent a wrong message to the world that the Ijaws could not be trusted to fight corruption.


Think about it for a moment; one major reason why the Niger Delta always seem to take one step forward and two steps backward is the high degree of corruption among indigenous and national public officials.  The region’s public officials have always worked in tandem with the national public officials to exploit the region. As a result, ordinary citizens of the region have never benefited from the oil windfall.  On the other hand, the region’s public officials have tended to act with impunity, believing that they can always be above the law, as far as they work cooperatively with the national power-wielders.  If one carefully examines the political actions of Bayelsa and Rivers States, in the last four years, a conclusion can be drawn that the political leaders of these two states spent massively to reward outside interests without doing so to the citizens of their states.  It is rare to hear of Bayelsa or Rivers State donating millions of naira to any village or community within their borders, yet, they have never hesitated to spend millions of nairas to outside interests, in an effort to woo national power-wielders. 


Indeed, the governor’s case is a blessing in disguise because public officials in the South/South and throughout Nigeria have since become very cautious.  In Bayelsa, some public officials are terrified of being arrested while some are in hiding. Why are these officials taking cover or hiding if they have not engaged in criminal activity?


The governor’s case also provides opportunity for Ijaw communities to launch a silent but peaceful revolution in the three zones.   As the federal government, through the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC), intensifies its effort to apprehend embezzlers, Ijaw communities should file cases in the courts to claim public ownership of any property that was built or purchased with embezzled money.  For instance, if a local government chair or secretary had embezzled money allocated for the development of the community, as the people of Patani were able to demonstrate, the community should use legal means to seize the properties.  If the properties involved houses, such facilities could be used for public libraries, community centers, health clinics, and schools.  If the properties involved vehicles, the vehicles should become the properties of the local government.  If the properties involved business ventures, they should be converted to publicly owned community cooperative enterprises.


Similarly, the communities of Tombia, Buguma, Okrika, Andonni, Abua etc, that were ransacked by armed elements should sue the political elites and the governments that supported the armed elements to cause various mayhem.   Of course, the people of Odi and Odiama must not fail to act legally for the massive abuse of their rights.


Due to the sudden change in the climate for embezzlement, those who have critical information about misappropriated public funds should report such incidents so that the authorities can investigate.  It is the only means to clean up Ijawland of  charlatans and plutocrats who parade themselves as patriots while exploiting and pauperizing the people.


These actions are necessary to let it be known that public funds belong to the people and not the public officials entrusted with the responsibility of administering the funds. In Nigeria, elected officials behave as if they have an inalienable right to convert into their personal use public funds intended for the management of public goods and services. In the process, citizens have been reduced to paupers while the public officials and their families become super-rich.


As can be seen, it is politically obvious that the stake-holders on the Niger Delta question, including the indigenes, international oil consuming nations, the oil companies, and Nigeria’s powerwielders are increasingly concerned about the situation in the region.  Thus, concerned by the lack of development, despite billions of nairas being allocated to the oil-producing states monthly, President Olusegun Obasanjo and the British Government decided to act.  Instead of taking a diplomatic position which supports the anticorruption effort, the Ijaws threatened to stop the effort because their prominent son had fallen prey to the dragnet.  It will take a while for the Ijaws to repair the political damage caused by failing to support the anticorruption effort, regardless of the manner, in which the war is being prosecuted.  In the future, when the Ijaws demand a fair play, others would say, “ you people are not serious.  You scream about marginalization, deprivations, and oppression, yet, when your son is caught , you screamed and threatened for his release.”  It is a political suicide to take the position that fighting corruption is the right thing to do when people from other ethnic groups are caught but it is unacceptable when an Ijaw is caught, especially considering the fact that Ijaw public officials have caused the greatest amount of damage to the Ijaw nation through selfishness, narrow-mindedness, and forming unholy alliances. 


In fact, it is arguable that the behavior of public officials in the oil-producing region led to the failure to get more than 17% during the National Political Reform Conference.  It did not make any sense to ask for more than 13% when public officials in the South/South could not account for the increased federal allocation provided to their states.  Democratic politics involve give and take based on justifiable logical arguments. 


Therefore, the governor’s case must be allowed to run through the legal process inorder to bring respectability to the Ijaw demands internationally.  The British acted swiftly because they wanted to protect their investments via the Shell Petroleum Development Company.  They reasoned that massive corruption was preventing the oil dividend to flow to the Niger Delta masses, thereby, fueling the militancy that was threatening the SPDC and other multinational companies.  They are convinced that if public officials in the region are prevented from misappropriating funds allocated for development in the region, then the masses would benefit from the oil dividend.  If the masses benefit directly through infrastructural development, the need for militancy among the youths would de-escalate.  President Obasanjo too feels that militancy among the youths can be reduced if the people in the oil-producing region are allowed to enjoy the fruits of increased federal allocations.


For the time being, the deputy governor should be congratulated for resisting outside pressure to violate the constitution of Bayelsa State.   It is important for him to unite the people by not violating the constitutional process until the London situation clears up.  He can serve as an acting governor but not the governor until the case is decided. This is necessary to have a smooth transition from one leader to another without Ijaw people fighting each other for the governorship position.  In fact, it is important for Ijaw leaders to be wary of the PDP system.  It is a very negative and unprogressive political force in Nigeria.  Consequently, the Ijaws must try not to be entangled in its deadly politics.  The Bayelsa governor, it appears, was too close to the center of gravity of the PDP system, hence, his predicament.


This is time for serious political and legal gamesmanship.  Playing big time politics involves certain risks.  Consequently, those who fall prey to the risks must accept their fate as part of the rituals of playing in the big leagues.  The Ijaws must learn to play in the big leagues if they are serious about their political intentions.  If the federal government is willing to attack with all legal guns blazing,  the Ijaws must counter by using all legal means available.


Strategic Factors and Options:  Opportunity for a New Beginning

Priye Torulagha

As I have stated many times in the past, a substantial number of Ijaw people are not aware of the international implication of their plight.   Being situated at the center or core of the oil belt automatically exposes them to regional, national, and international political intrigues. The reason being that oil is a much sort after commodity in the world.  The Black Gold is the fuel that drives the world economy.  Therefore, it is a strategic commodity for which nation-states are willing to devise any means necessary or go to war in order to secure its uninterrupted supply.

Since the Black Gold is a strategic commodity, the Niger Delta is automatically a strategic region.  Unfortunately, most Ijaws are not conscious of this political reality. The sad thing is that even Ijaw public officials, those who call themselves the political elites do not seem to comprehend the  implication.  Hence, as soon as they get into power, they forget that they are being watched, trapped, tricked, manipulated, bribed, co-opted, defanged, and compromised.  As soon as they acquire some political recognition from the power-wielders in Nigeria, they begin to act as if they have acquired national wings to do as they wish, believing that their national godfathers and godmothers will be able to rescue them.  As soon as they test power, they forget the Ijaw masses, begin to wine and dine and with the power-wielders, dance in circles, and ferret the peoples money away as if the people are nonenties, falsely believing that they no longer need the Ijaw masses to protect them since they have acquired national wings to fly to Abuja, Kano, Lagos, London. New York or Paris etc.

Another sad part of what has been going on in Ijawland is the fact that when some of these so-called leaders assume power, their wives and children begin to display the looted wealth as if their husbands, fathers, and uncles actually work for the money.  The children begin to live in very expensive houses and drive very expensive vehicles.  They travel all over the world and advertise the handiwork of their husbands and fathers, thereby, making it easy for the Ijaw public to know what is going on.  The unfortunate thing is that those associated with looters often forget their sense of morality and pretend as if everything is proper. 

There is no doubt that Bayelsa State in particular and the Ijaw nation in general have not been governed well.  Throughout the ethnic nation, the reported Patani Local Government financial drama seems to play itself out daily as Ijaw political leaders literally convert the financial resources of their communities into personal accounts.  In Bayelsa State, since the arrival of an indigenous chief executive,  numerous incredulous events have taken place.   The list of incredulous dramatic political scenes and events include (1) the unexplained bombing of the Bayelsa House of Assembly,  (2) the destruction of Odi, (3) the crippling of the Niger Delta University project even before it began, (4) the award of contracts to fake firms, (5) the administration and operation of the state through Britain, the United States, and South Africa (6) the conduct of legislative business by members of the legislature through Britain and the United States, (7) the personalization of government, (8) excessive conduct of government business through a massive spoil system or political cronyism, (9) the utter lack of financial accountability, (10) the destruction of Odiama, (11) excessive unexplainable foreign trips by the chief executive, high level public officials, and members of the legislative branch, and (12) a general state of restlessness emanating from the lack of political representation, financial accountability, and genuine infrastructural development.

In Bayelsa state, like many others in the country, the political system is highly malfunctioned, hence, the constitutional framework only exists in paper and not in reality.  In theory, under the presidential form of government in which Nigeria operates, the three branches ( legislature, executive, and judiciary) of government supposed to be equal.  They supposed to provide checks and balances on each other so that no single branch of the government can dominate the other two branches.  In Bayelsa State, the executive branch totally dominates the legislative and judiciary branches.  In short, there is no such thing as a legislative branch in Bayelsa since the governor (the executive branch) does whatever he wants and every public official is answerable to him.  Generally, the power of the purse supposed to lie with the legislative branch and the governor always suppose to go to the legislative branch to ask for money through budget requests.  In Bayelsa, the governor is the executive, legislative, and the judiciary put together.  Consequently, the legislature goes to the governor to ask for money, instead of the other way round.  The same pattern could be found in Rivers, Delta, and Edo States.

The so-called members of the legislative branch in Bayelsa State surrendered their constitutional powers to the chief executive for reasons best known to them.  It is therefore, understandable why members of the Bayelsa legislature frequented overseas, just like the chief executive.  It would not be an overstatement to say that the operational capital of Bayelsa has been London and not Yenagoa. 

In Bayelsa State, commissioners and high-level government officials exist at the mercy of the chief executive.  Thus, instead of playing their roles professionally as technocratic advisers, they serve more like praise singers.  They run their administrative units based entirely on the whims of the governor.  Every effort is made not to criticize or offend the chief executive.

Having described the sad state of affairs in Bayelsa State and in Ijawland generally, it is very important for Ijaw people to watch very carefully what is going on regionally, nationally, and internationally.  The politics involved in the arrest of the governor is much bigger than the issue of corruption.   There is no doubt that money laundering is a major reason for the arrest.  However, throughout the Niger Delta, the Ijaws are viewed as the greatest threat to the flow of oil.  A concerted effort is being made to cripple any real or imagined threat that could emanate from them.   The same reason accounted for the arrest of Asari Dokubo.   In fact, one could say that traps are being set to actually provoke the Ijaws to take certain actions in order to justify their being crushed in such a manner as to wholesomely deny them the ability to have any influence on the issue of oil.

It should be noted that recently, the price of oil has escalated beyond imagination.  Such a dramatic increase has a negative effect on the economy of many countries in the world.  Moreover, the Iraqi situation is not improving, in terms of oil production and commodity stabilization.  Added to the Iraqi uncertainty is the Venezuelan political situation which does not guarantee supply reliability.   Thus, pressure is being put on Nigeria to stabilize the Niger Delta so that the region would become the oil stabilizer in the world.   The region cannot be stabilized if the Ijaws are allowed to roam free.

As can be seen, the Ijaws are being pressured from many fronts. An increasing number of foreign defence ministers and military chiefs have visited Nigeria.  Part of the strategy is to provoke the Ijaws to take certain actions.  There are also those who want to pay back in kind, for being insulted.  Unfortunately, many Ijaw leaders and youth groups are falling for the traps by talking too much in an unguarded manner. 

To avoid being trapped, the Ijaws need to increase their diplomatic and legal efforts,  instead of constantly screaming and threatening to do this and that.  Be legally adventurous and sue both nationally and internationally for sins committed against the ethnic group and the region.  The Ijaw nation today needs leaders who are politically and legally creative, bold, and determined.  Similarly, Ijawnation today needs leaders who are financially responsible and cares about the plight of the masses and not actors who parade themselves as leaders. 

Concerning the arrest of Governor Alamieyeseigha, the Ijaws should exercise caution in uttering condemnatory or supportive statements.   Caution is needed since the facts surrounding the matter are not very clear.  Moreover, if the Ijaws protest unnecessarily over the arrest of their son concerning the issue of corruption, then they cannot turn around and condemn other Nigerians for corruption.  After all, one of the reasons why the Niger Delta is highly marginalized, deprieved, and underdeveloped is due to corruption perpetrated by both local and national public officials.  If the Ijaws protest unnecessarily because their son has been arrested or held for trial, then they would loss all moral authority to complain about their plight.  In other words, they would short-change themselves and deprive themselves of the opportunity of getting empathy and support from the national and international publics.   No group in the world can sustain a struggle without support from national and international groups.  Thus, using the political principle of proportionality, it is obvious that fighting corruption is much preferable and beneficial than to stand on the fence.

 There is no doubt that corruption has devastated, not only Ijawland but the entire country, therefore, it is much preferable for the legal system to take its cause.   Those Ijaws who believe that the governor is being sacrificed as a result of the dispute between the president and the vice president can quietly mobilize their political and financial resources to hire reputable lawyers fight the case and put pressure on the appropriate quarters to have the governor released.   Apart from that, some wait and see approach is needed.  In other words, let the matter runs its course.  If the allegations against the governor have no evidentiary truth in them, the governor will walk away without any problem.  However, if some of the allegations turn out to contain some truth, then the Ijaws would be shooting themselves if they ever try to take a position against corruption because other Nigerians would scream that the Ijaws are not serious about fighting the vice.  It is actually an advantage that the arrest took place in Britain rather than in Nigeria.  The trial has the potential of unraveling many secrets. In addition, it increases international interest, thereby, focusing the limelight on the Niger Delta situation and the corruption in Nigeria.

 Despite the embarrassment of the alleged arrest for money laundering, the incident actually provides a great opportunity for Bayelsa people in particular and the Ijaws in general to redefine and rejuvenate themselves and  start all over again.  The reason being that in the last five or six years, things have not gone well in Bayelsa.  Expectations were shattered by lack of performance on all fronts.  Being the most underdeveloped state, Bayelsa provided an opportunity for the Ijaw people to come up with a different model of political, economic and social development that would have served as a new model for the entire country.  Instead of taking a new direction, Bayelsa stuck to the old Nigerian ways of grand-standing, ineffectual leadership, unrestrained misappropriation of public funds, abuse of power, political and financial irresponsibility, and lack of caring for the masses.  There is a very wide gulf between the state’s public officials and the masses.  In short, the representatives do not represent anyone but themselves.

In a way, the London incident is a blessing in disguise to the Ijaw people.  First, it shows that no condition is permanent. Second, those who think that they have national godfathers and godmothers to protect them now realize that godfatherism has its limits.  Third, those who have financial skeletons in their cupboards would be very restless, fearful that they could be arrested or compelled to testify.  Fourth, many Ijaw public officials would stop trooping to London and other European countries and stay home to conduct the peoples businesses.  Fifth, it provides opportunity for the masses to ask questions about the conduct of their local government officials.  Sixth, it provides opportunity for communities to sue and claim the right of ownership to properties that were built with looted wealth.  In fact, other Ijaw communities should adopt the legal action taken by the people of Patani to force their political representative to account for his expenditures.  In other words, the people should pursue a legal doctrine which justifies the communal seizure of any property that was built with embezzled public money.  It is much better to adopt a legal strategy to deal with corrupt officials than to resort to violent means.  No matter how long a case may take, a legal ruling tends to have a permanency to the decision.  Moreover, it can set a precedent for future legal actions.  Those who think that they are above the law will now be more cautious for fear of being caught in the dragnet.

As the governor is temporarily incapacitated by his arrest and possible trial, the opportunity for new direction is great.   The deputy governor should, if he has nothing to fear, be bold enough to form a government with people who are dedicated to the development of Bayelsa State and the Ijaw nation. 

First, he should form a committee of advisers drawn from various parts of the state to come up with a plan for strategic development of the state. 

Second, issue a financial report to the people of the state about how much the state had gotten, how much has been spent, and for what purpose.  

Third, make sure that the monthly appropriations coming from the federal government are properly accounted for and well spent for programs that directly benefit the people.

By now, Bayelsa should have operated both land and riverine public transportation systems.  A riverine transportation system should have boats plying from Andonni/Opobo to Lagos, cutting through Okrika, Kalabari, Nembe, Akassa, Ekowe, Amassoma, Odi, Elemebiri, Patani, Bumodi, Burutu, Arogbo to Lagos.  Smaller boat should have been connecting Bonny, Ogbia, Tereke, Tungbo, Ukubie, Koluama, Foropagha etc. to the main transportation artery.  Similarly, a road transportation system running from Port Harcourt to Lagos through Patani and connecting Warri would have been in full operation today.  In addition, , Bayelsa would have served as the center for the development of ultra modern hospitals where Ijaw people and other Nigerians would have been coming to receive treatment.

Fourth, avoid concentrating developmental activities in one place.   Projects should be spread all over the state to ensure access to the government and provide employment. 

Fifth, plan for a free primary and secondary education in the state.  Reintroduce the dormitory system in order to reduce pressure on parents. 

Sixth, build the Niger Delta University completely and devote sufficient money for the accreditation process. 

Seventh, stop traveling overseas and ban any public official from traveling overseas,  unless the trip is critical for the development of the state.  This is intended to increase trust.  It is obvious that most people have no faith in the state government. 

Eight, develop the technical and business manpower of the state so that Ijaw citizens stop being mere consumers of other peoples goods and services.

 Ninth, develop an environmental policy to help guide the people and the oil companies.   Such a policy should include steps that a company must take if there is an oil spillage.

10.  Set up a policy and procedures by which communities can negotiate with an oil company if a particular land is to be used for oil exploratory purposes.  This is very critical to ensuring stability throughout the entire Ijawnation.  Quite often, the scramble to get money from the oil companies leads to violent confrontations between communities. 

11.  The Ijaw nation must be bold enough to adopt policies that are not dictated by the overreaching Mafia-like PDP.  For a highly underdeveloped ethnic nation, following the very corrupt PDP format is like committing developmental suicide.  The PDP system is highly corrupted and anyone who associates with it becomes tainted.

Right now, the situation in the Niger Delta is very critical.  Tremendous pressure is being mounted to compel the Ijaws to react violently so that the powers-that-be can use such opportunity to crack down violently on the ethnic nation.   I say counterattack by using every available legal means.  Prof. Sagay and Ben Nwabueze made  very creative legal suggestions concerning Chief Alamieyeseigha’s predicament.  They said that the governor still enjoys immunity.  Thus, the Ijaws need to apply creative legal means.  The same applies to Asari Dokubo’s situation.  Instead of going haywire, apply every legal and political means possible.  Let the world realize what is going on in Nigeria.

Indeed, Bayelsans have an opportunity for a new beginning.  Do not blow it away due to unnecessary expression of emotion. 

Strategic Factors and Options: The danger of taking one step forward and two steps backward

By Priye S. Torulagha

It is inferable that a large proportion of Ijaw people still find it exceedingly difficult to comprehend the implications of being situated in the BLACK GOLD belt of Nigeria. As a result, they continue to express amazement and or bewilderment at events directed against them. It is almost as if they are living in a dream world. The lack of serious understanding of their political and economic situations cuts across all socioeconomic levels of Ijaw society, including ordinary citizens and high-level public officials. In other words, many Ijaw people continue to think that the national power-wielders will treat them justly if they act nicely in a condescending manner without having to mobilize their efforts to achieve their goals. As a result of this naivete, they allow themselves to be manipulated and exploited. They also allow themselves to become defenceless.

As stated many times in previous writings, it is argued here again that the Ijaws will never be treated equally or justly in the scheme of Nigeria power politics. The reason being that Ijawland in particular and the Niger Delta in general contain the BLACK GOLD which the industrialized countries, multinational companies, Nigeria's power-wielders, and Peoples from the Non-Oil producing States of Nigeria want. In other words, the decks are stacked against them and other ethnic groups in the region due to the strategic importance of oil. Other ethnic groups in the region also face the same fate. Knowing full well that the decks are stacked against them, Ijaw public officials cannot and should not play politics the Nigerian way. In order to achieve victory, they must be vigilant, dedicate themselves, strategize, focus all their energies, and speak with one voice at all times. They must use every Naira in their possession for the development of Ijawland so as to create internal, national, and international impact and garner more support for the demand on resource control. Right now, Ijaw public officials, especially in Bayelsa cannot convince anybody in Nigeria that they deserve more money since they cannot willingly account for the monthly allocations that go to the state. Rivers State too cannot properly account for its monthly allocations since the citizens have not experienced any marked improvement in their standard of living. In addition, Rivers State is like an armed camp in which some notable high-level government officials recruit the services of armed thugs to cow the people into submission.

The international and national stakeholders want an uninterrupted flow of oil from the Niger Delta. They also want to get it cheaply so that they can make multibillion dollars profits. Moreover, there are still some Nigerians who want to make their own niche in wealth through oil. This being the case, they would make it almost impossible for the citizens of the Niger Delta from achieving resource control. This explains why the Niger Delta is a military occupation zone. The security forces are stationed in the region for the sole purpose of enabling the exploration and production of petroleum. Other reasons such as stopping criminal activities, sea piracy, oil bunkering, cultism, militant gangs etc. are diversionary stratagems to make the policy of military occupation digestable to the indigenes of the region.

The Ijaws are treated harshly because the international and national power-wielders view them as being the greatest threat to the uninterrupted flow of oil from the Niger Delta. In particular, the emergence of armed groups within the ethnic group is viewed with much alarm by those who want an uninterrupted flow of oil. As a result, President Olusegun Obasanjo's policies, tactics, and actions since he came to power have been to try to defang the Ijaws by whatever means necessary so that the ethnic group would not be able to prevent oil exploration in their part of the Niger Delta. Again, it should be recalled that the fighting between the Itsekiris and the Ijaws during the months of March, April, and May 2003 drastically reduced exploratory activities on the Southwestern part of the region. In fact, it was reported that oil export was reduced by 40%. If fighting within a tiny part of the region resulted in income reduction by 40%, what do you think will happen if fighting were to engulf the entire region? In such a scenario, Nigeria's economy could grind to a halt. Likewise, the multinational companies would suffer extensive financial loss. If such a thing were to take place, their stock values would go down. If their stock values go down, the economies of their home countries will experience recession. To avoid the possibility of such a cataclistic occurrence, which could seriously damage their national security, political leaders and policy makers in these countries have formed an alliance with the power-wielders in Nigeria to stop any indigenous threat to the flow of oil in the region.

Since the financial and economic stakes are high, President Obasanjo will use whatever means necessary to put the Ijaws in their place. Therefore, the recent military incursions are not coincidents or intended merely to fight crimes. The actions were intended to show the Ijaws that if they threaten oil exploration, the federal government would not hesitate to use harsh measures to deal with them. The sending of soldiers to Amadi-Ama and Tere-Ama to ferret out armed gangs in Okrika ( Ighodaro, 2004, July 21)and the search and destroy mission in Western Ijawland near Warri were not coincidental. They were strategically designed to attack the Eastern and Western Ijaw flanks and thereby send a shock wave to Ijawland. Hence, Ogbogbene, Ogbudugbudu, Ayoungbene, Asantuagbene, Azama Zion, Idebagbene, Odigbogbene, Opia and villages in Egbema were invaded and ransacked by troops belonging to the 'Operation Restore Hope', under the command of Brig. Gen. Elias Zamani (Okafor, 7/17/04). In both cases, the official position was that the forces were sent to deter or wipe out crime. In reality, the actions were intended as a demonstration of force by the federal government and to weed out Ijaw militants. For the federal government, Ijaw militants present the greatest threat since they have the capability to mount military operations against the national interest. Consequently, destroying them is a top priority. As a result of the operation, all those who regard themselves as fighters, including members of the Niger Delta Peoples Volunteer Force, the Niger Delta Vigilante etc. would now either give up or face very serious consequences.

The unfortunate thing is that even some high-level Ijaw public officials who supposed to grasp the strategic intentions of the national power-wielders have repeatedly failed to do so. Hence, on many occasions, they have indirectly accepted or bought into the rationale often given by the national players to supposedly stop crime activities in the Niger Delta. Crime rate in the Niger Delta is probably less or equal to crime rates in other regions but the security forces have never been so mobilized to fight crime in those regions. Only in the Niger Delta are soldiers and naval personnel used to fight crime, not the police. Another peculiar aspect of Ijawland and the entire Niger Delta is that public officials from this region easily accept the rationale for the deployment and use of force against the interest of their own communities. For example, after the Amadi-Ama and Tere-Ama operation, a Rivers State official, Mr. Magnus Abe, the Commissioner for Information released a press release saying:

"There was a joint operation by security agencies in the Amadi-Ama and Tere-Ama axis of Port Harcourt Local Government Area as part of the on-going efforts to rid the state of cultists."

"The people of the state are therefore, advised to go about their normal businesses as the raid on cultists in the interest of everybody. Such raids will continue by security operatives who are determined to ensure that Rivers State remains peaceful. I wish to call on the people of the state to co-operate with the suceiry agencies to ensure that their efforts yield the desired result" (Ighodaro, 2004, July 21).

The Rivers State commissioner did not mention the eleven innocent people killed during the military operation. So, the implication being that it is acceptable to have several innocent people killed in order to stop crime. Will the state pay compensation for the innocent people killed? The justification reminds one of the rationale given for the invasion and destruction of Odi and many other towns and villages in Bayelsa, Delta, and Rivers State. In the Odi case, some Ijaw public officials tacitly agreed to the plan, disregarding the destructive tendencies of Nigeria's security operations.

Like Bayelsa and Rivers State, Delta State public officials always appear to be very eager for deployment of security forces in the state. Instead of working honestly in a committed manner to resolve thorny political crises in the state, they assume that they can use the security forces to intimidate and force the settlement of inter-ethnic and intra-ethnic conflicts. The Delta State Commissioner for Inter-Ethnic Relations, Mr. Ovuozorie Macaulay, went as far as saying that community leaders would be held accountable for actions in their communities even when they are not responsible for any felonious deed (Ogefere, 2004, June 4). Such a blanket statement by a public official provides and encourages unrestrained use of military force. Evidently, it did not take long before the men of Operation Restore Hope unleashed their destructive force on Ijaw communities in the state. Now, the commissioner is defensive, having realized the fruits of his blanket statement. In order to avoid taking blame for the military operations against Ijaw communities, he went as far as to say that if proven that the security forces were involved in the killing of people, he would resign.

Public officials in the North and the West generally oppose the deployment of troops as a means of fighting crime. Likewise, one could not recall any official from the South-East region requesting the mobilization of troops to fight crime, even when the crime rate in the region escalated beyond acceptable limits in the 1990s. Instead of inviting the national security forces, the officials in this region encouraged the creation of a home-based anticrime outfit (the Bakassi Boys) to weed out the criminals. Even when a coup was plotted and carried out in Anambra State, national military forces were not mobilized. If that coup had place in Akwa-Ibom or Bayelsa or Delta or Rivers State, the armed forces would have been fully mobilized, properties would have been destroyed, and a number of innocent people would have been arrested or killed. In addition, public officials from the victimized state would have made public statements justifying the need for such destructive operation.

The Northern States hold the national record for the number of citizens killed as a result of ethnic and religious conflicts since 1999. Thousands of innocent Nigerians have been killed and properties worth billions have been destroyed. Yet, Northern public officials rarely call for military mobilization to stop the killings and the destruction of property. In the most recent outbursts, an emergency was declared in Plateau State and nothing of that sort was declared in Kano State. Plateau State officials continue to oppose the emergency declaration and are putting pressure to have it removed.

It is obvious that military incursions into the Niger Delta are not designed to protect lives and properties but to secure the region for oil production. The federal rationale for attempting to destroy armed gangs in the region too is not motivated by the desire to stop crime. The reason being that armed groups in Nigeria are directly and indirectly sponsored by politicians and public officials. They used the armed groups to intimidate the citizenry and potential challengers. Therefore, if the federal government is truly committed to fighting crime by mobilizing security forces, why does it not arrest the financiers of the armed groups in the country? Why go after the little fishes when the big fishes are wining and dining and accumulating ill-begotten wealth from the public treasury? After the military invasion of Amadi-Ama and Tere-Ama to supposedly stop armed gangs from terrorizing the citizens, revelations are being made about those who created and sponsored the armed gangs in the Rivers State. Allegations point to some of the highest public officials in the state for being responsible for most of the armed gangs. For example, Mr. Samuel Horsfall was alleged to have been implicated in some of the murderous activities in Buguma. He was arrested by the police but was let go due to the intervention of a very big political fish in the state. The political big fish was said to have been fearful that if Mr. Horsfall were to open his mouth, the entire state would have been shaken. Thus, if President Olusegun Obasanjo and the PDP led government is truly committed to the elimination of armed gangs in the country, he should order the police and armed forces to arrest the big political fishes that sponsor the armed gangs. If the Amadi-Ama and Tere-Ama operation in Okrika were really intended to wipe out armed gangs, the president would have ordered the soldiers who carried out the operation to also go after the sponsors of the gangs. The Nigerian military is capable of arresting anybody in the country, no matter how big he or she is. However, in a democracy, the military must take orders from civilian authority. This being the case, the president would have ordered the soldiers to arrest the creators of the armed gangs, regardless of how big they are.

Quite often, the political financiers of the armed groups would abandon the fighters as soon as they achieve their goal of consolidating their political positions. Now that the elections are over, the boys are left to feign for themselves. For example, rumours abound that the Odi Boys were supported and encouraged by some political tycoons in Bayelsa state to intimidate opponents. As soon as the elections were over, they were abandoned, so, they turned to other means to maintain themselves. John Togo. The leader of armed group in Delta State that was recently apprehended, made confessional statement indicating that some political and business heavy weights were responsible for germinating them in Delta State. Soon after the goals of the financiers were achieved, the boys were abandoned. Eventually, they turned to other means to maintain themselves.

Why are officials in the Niger Delta so eager to play along with national schemes that are intended to suffocate their struggle for resource control? Why do they always accept un-critically national reasons that are intended to subjugate them? Why are they always condescending to the national power-wielders? Why do they behave as if they are doormats of the national players? Why are they so eager to romance with Nigeria's security forces when they know that military operations often cause more harm than good due to the excessive use of force? Could it be that these public officials owed their political careers to national godfathers and godmothers? Could it also be that they do not have the mandate of their people since they were put in power by the outside forces, hence, are fearful that the people could turn against them, without the presence of national security forces to protect them? Could it be that some of these high-level public officials have an ambition to run for national political offices and are therefore willing to sacrifice the interests of their own citizens in order to satisfy personal ambitions? These are questions the citizens of the Niger Delta must try to ask their public officials.

For the Ijaws, the situation is worse than anticipated. As stated in an earlier article, the Ijaw struggle for political and economic emancipation seems to be characterized by 'full tide and ebb tide" cycles. During full tide, the Ijaws seem to work furiously in an effort to achieve their goals and objectives. During ebb tide, the Ijaws tend to slow down in their efforts and thereby forego the goals and objectives that were achieved earlier. During this phase, they tend to fight among each other and make series of political blunders. Instead of focusing their energy toward confronting their enemies, they turn against themselves. In other words, the Ijaw struggle seems to be characterized by a phenomenon in which they take one step forward and two steps backward. It definitely appears that the Ijaws have resorted to the ebb tide cycle again as they engage themselves and create blunders that portray them negatively.

Therefore, in terms of playing power politics, one can venture to say that the Ijaws are very amateurish in the game of politics. Even though they command the most critical element in Nigeria, they do not know how to apply it successfully in attaining their goals. Generally, in politics, it is wisest to use or utilize one's greatest strength in confronting political competitors. For the Ijaws, oil is their greatest strength. They supposed to use it wisely to attain their goals. Instead, they go to beg those who do not have oil by kowtowing to them and thereby render themselves powerless. As repeated many times before, Ijaw national public officials from the Eastern, Central, and Western zones are faceless and voiceless. They are either afraid to speak boldly or do not know what to say. They are ever ready to make deals with the national power-wielders, even if such deals are intended to thwart the progress of their own people back home.

The Ijaw leaders also seem to suffer from perpetual short-sightedness. Instead of adopting a long-term strategy that will yield the greatest benefits, most of them go for short-term goals that often backfire against their citizens. It is easy to recite many instances in which political blunders were committed due to either greed or political immaturity.

a. It is not a secret that the Ijaw front in the Warri conflict has unraveled as the leadership breaks into two factions recently. One faction opposes the recently made peace deal because it did not include the creation of separate local governments for the Ijaw, Itsekiri, and Urhobo while the other faction supports the deal. The acrimony between the two factions is so profound to the extent that charges and countercharges are made publicly to the embarrassment of the Ijaw nation. It is puzzling that the Ijaws would go for such a peace conference without strategizing and adopting crucial negotiating points. It is shocking that the Ijaw National Conference did not take the lead in articulating the Ijaw position. It is also a great blunder that the Ijaws accepted to participate in the peace accord in which the central issue, i.e., the creation of separate local governments for the Ijaw, Itsekiri, and the Urhobo was not included in the agenda. Meanwhile, the Itsekiris have never disagreed openly among themselves. They always put up a united front, regardless of occasional political setbacks. They are constantly theorizing and coming up with strategies to outfox the Ijaws and the Urhobos. The Ijaws react constantly instead of adopting strategies to preempt the other side. The peace blunder provided opportunity for the federal and Delta State governments to unleash the security forces against Ijaw communities.

c. The Ijaws have never treated their fighters with respect. Those who fight risk their lives unnecessarily because there is no ethnic support mechanism to maintain and sustain them. After being used by some politicians in Bayelsa, the Odi Boys were left to feign for themselves. They are still detained and there is no concerted effort to end the case. In the North and in the West, fighters are left off tactically to continue their lives as if nothing had happened, even when thousands of people are killed and maimed. The Ijaw political leadership cannot even summon enough courage to resolve the Odi Boys case. The boys are in a state of legal limbo. In the Warri area, the same fate awaited the fighters. John Togo and his Boys would encounter a fate similar to the Odi Boys. At least, in the Rivers State, the big political fishes who helped to create the armed gangs are able to protect the leaders of the gangs when trouble knocks at the door, as in the case of Mr. Horsfall.

d. On the other hand, due also to short sightedness, the fighters are not helping themselves at all. By engaging in intra-ethnic, intra-communal, and interpersonal fights, they make it easy for the national power-wielders to justify using heavy-handed military means to crush them. There is no doubt that the Bush Boys and other elements created the opportunity for the federal government to launch attacks against them. If these armed groups actually believed in the cause of the Niger Delta, they would have not terrorized their own communities through engaging in turf wars. Bakana, Buguma, Okrika town, Ekeremor, Kaiama, Odi, Yenagoa, Ijaw traders etc. have experienced heart wrenching violence initiated by armed gangs. Recently, John Dede, a member of the Ijaw Youth Council was assassinated in Borokiri, Port Harcourt. Knowing full well the high political stakes concerning the Niger Delta, Ijawland and oil, one would have expected various fighters and groups to consolidate their resources, train sufficiently, become disciplined, remain low and serve as the backbone of the ethnic group. Instead, they decided to advertise themselves in a negative way through unnecessary violence and thereby allow the national power-wielders to justify the need to weed them out by force. Meanwhile, armed groups belonging to other ethnic groups remain untouched and continue to consolidate their resources, in the event of war. Despite the gravity of the situation in Plateau State, security forces have not been directed to weed out militant elements. The behavior of the hired hands demonstrate clearly the fact that some people are willing to destroy their own communities and sell their souls to the highest so that they can live the good life.

d. Again, it must be repeated that Ijaw public officials are just too passive. They have never raised serious national political questions to influence national debate. Whenever national figures tour Ijawland, Ijaw officials tend to bend backwards and do not ask any serious question about the issues. For example, President Obasanjo has toured Bayelsa and Rivers State many times. Each time, Ijaw leaders work so hard to make him feel at home, without raising any serious question. Vice President Atiku too has visited the Niger Delta States and experienced the same overcompensating attitude on the part of the public officials. Thus, national power-wielders do not seem to have respect for the Ijawnation. They view Ijaw leaders as people that can be bought anytime. The lack of respect is directly responsible for the president's willingness to use force against Ijaw interests any time he feels like doing so, even after promising not to do so. He gets away with it because he knows that Ijaw public officials 'have no teeth and neither can they bark' to cause serious political problems for him. If any Ijaw person makes noise, he invites the person to Abuja and before you know it, the person immediately becomes a praise-singer and active backer of the president. This condescending behavior can also be found among public officials in other Niger Delta States.

Since the president and other national power-wielders do not seem to have respect for the Ijaws, the security forces are very trigger happy at shooting at them. They know that nothing will happen to them if they kill Ijaws. Recently, high-level Bayelsan officials, including Capt. Walter Feghabo (rtd.), former governor of Delta and Ebonyi States, Messrs Augustine Lugbenwei, Azibolanari Nelson, and Gideon Ekeuwei were touring the Bayelsan West Senatorial district to inspect state projects. Also included in the entourage were mobile policemen and some information officers. Around the Forcados River, near Toru Ndoro, a border town, security forces from the Operation Restore Hope opened fire indiscriminately without any warning. Fortunately, no one died from the loose cannons (Oyadongha, 2004, June 28). Despite the gravity of the action, Ijaw leaders failed to express their anger in the gravest terms possible and warn the president from killing or attempting to kill Ijaw people unnecessarily. If that incident had taken place in the Northern or Western or South-Eastern States, their leaders would have raised hell

and call on the federal government to withdraw those security forces forthwith. In Ijawland, there is no will to speak loudly, so, nothing happened. The lack of activity implies that Abuja might have called some Ijaw personages for consultation, hence, the quietness.

Ijaw public official ignore one cardinal rule of politics, that is, never kowtow to your opponent or give away your political assets without a corresponding behavior on the part of the opponent. Politics is a struggle for "who gets what, when, and how? (Dye, 1999).

This means that you must stand your ground and compromise only incrementally as the other side also compromises. When you give up your assets in order to be on the good side of your opponent, your opponent will most likely regard you as a fool. Ijaw public officials give up their political assets whenever national leaders visit with them. As a result, there is a silent rumor going around that the Ijaws are a bunch of stupid trouble-makers who do not know what they want.

f. The fact that Ijaw public officials have not been able to create substantive infrastructural development in their communities, despite the increase in revenue allocation also colors the perceptions of other Nigerians. The national players wonder why Ijaw public officials have not been able to spread developmental activities in such a way as to create a positive impact on the Ijaw citizenry. Due to the failure, Nigerians from the Non-Oil Producing States are convinced that the 'sons and daughters of the Niger Delta' are responsible for the poor state of affairs in the region. They believe that financial resources are siphoned off at such a great extent that development in the Niger Delta, particularly in Ijawland, is thwarted. Due to this national perception, others are puzzled by the failure of Ijaw citizens to vigorously challenge and compel their public officials to use money wisely and be accountable.

The Ijaws have to do better or otherwise, they will continue to remain as paupers in the midst of plenty. They should stop destroying themselves and work together. Shortsightedness must be replaced with foresighted long-term goals. Due to lack of respect, Ijaw citizens have increasingly become training targets for Nigeria's security forces.

They need to be more careful in choosing their leaders. They need leaders who are patriotic, dedicated, sophisticated, have a mastery of the art of power politics, have teeth, and can bark if necessary. They need leaders who think big, are selfless, and are not easily corrupted by Ghana Must Go Bags. They need leaders who will be able to stand their grounds and not be mesmerized or intimidated by the national political players.

Since the political decks are stack against them, they cannot afford to be sidetracked by irrelevant events. They must reinforce their resources and wage the political battle in a very serious manner. The strategy of taking one step forward and two steps backward is very counterproductive . To avoid taking two steps backward, they need to become sophisticated in the art of politics and be able to sustain their victories for the long run. The tendency to feel contented as soon as Abuja calls or when some bags of Ghana Must Go are given to some leaders, is indicative of the lack of dedication. As can be seen, it is arguable that frequent squabbles by Ijaw leaders of various political groups has so much to do with the scramble to get some Ghana Must Go bags from the big players at Abuja. Many youth leaders have failed following the fact that they were easily corrupted.

Ijaws! Please stop taking one step forward and two steps backward. Stop acting like houseboys to the Abuja political machinery. Think deeply, strategize, opt for the long run and become sophisticated political players.

The fact that some individuals among the Andonnis, Ikwerres, Kalabaris, Okrikas, Ogonis etc. eagerly accepted to become the hired-guns of wicked and blood-thirsty politicians show that the Niger Delta is in for a long rough time of political and military occupation and domiination. Likewise, the fact that these individuals willingly terrorized their own communittes in order to feather the nest of political leaders who do not wish their people well indicate that the Ijaws and the other ethnic groups continue to be ignorant of the great political danger they face becuase of the availability of oil in their territories. It also means that they are not strategically aware of the big national and international effort to enslave them politically, hence, the eagerness to serve as political house maids and hired-hands of other peoples political masterplans.


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Dey, T. (1999). Politics in America. Upper Saddle River, new Jersy: Prentice Hall.

Ighodaro, J. (2004, July 21). Crime dons bowler hat in Rivers. Vanguard http//:us.f607.mail.yahoo.com/ym/ShowLetter?Msgld+5087_9120420_143644..7/21/04.

Ogefere, S. (2004, June 4). Delta Monarchs to answer for communal crises. The Guradian. Htpp://www.guardiannewsngr.com/news/article10. 6/4/04.

Okafor, C. (2004, July 17). Ijaw demand probe of military raids..The Guardian. 7/21/04 .

Oyadongha, S. (2004, June 28). It was fear of pirates, now it's fear of soldiers on Bayelsa waterways. Vanguard. http://www.vanguardngr.com/articles/2002/niger_delta/nd328062004.html. 6/28/04.