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Strategic Factors and Options:  Using the Ijaw to Destroy the Ijaws
By Priye S. Torulagha
It seems that some Ijaw people are now becoming apprehensive about having an Ijaw person heads the Nigerian Army.  It is gratifying to know that people from the ethnic nation are now realizing the implications of the appointment.  One could vividly remember that many members of the ethnic nation jubilated and thanked President Olusegun Obasanjo for appointing their son to head the army.   At the time, people failed to pay attention to the strategic reasoning behind the appointment. 
Arguments Presented
There is no doubt that Nigeria did not mean well for the Ijaws when the leaders appointed Lt. Gen. Awoye Azazi as the Chief of Army.   It was tactically obvious that Nigeria wanted to use an Ijaw to destroy the Ijaws and put an end to the resistance toward oil exploration.  It should be noted that the need to neutralize or pacify the Niger Delta through political subterfuge has always been the desire of those who exercise power in the country.   Therefore, almost all the high-level political appointments made by the Federal Government to place Ijaw sons and daughters in certain national positions have been directed by the strategic need to control the Ijaws and the people of the Niger Delta.  In this regard, the following arguments are made to demonstrate the strategic and tactical implications of the appointments of Gen. Azazi and other Ijaws to federal positions:  (1) Increasingly, the Niger Delta and Nigeria do not see things from the same perspective due to divergent political and economic interests, 2) the appointment of an Ijaw as an Army Chief of Staff is designed to use an Ijaw to destroy the Ijaws as the Niger Delta drifts in a different direction, 3) the appointment of Ijaws to the federal oil bureaucracy is always intended to deceive the Ijaws and the people of the Niger Delta, (4) the nomination of Dr.Goodluck Jonathan as a vice presidential candidate for the Peoples Democratic Party is designed to neutralize the South-South and the South-East effort to gain the presidential ticket of the party.   The following reasons provide the rationale for the arguments made:
1.  Divergent Interests
First, Nigeria and the Niger Delta have divergent political interests.  Nigeria wants to exploit the mineral resources of the region to develop other parts of the country while intentionally margining it so as to reduce its ability to resist resource-transfer schemes.  The Niger Delta wants a total or significant control of the management of the mineral resources so that it can develop itself and improve the lives of the inhabitants.  Nigeria is afraid that if the region gains total or significant control of oil and gas exploration and management, the region would become too powerful, thereby, threatening the national security of the country through an effort to secede.  Niger Deltans want Nigeria to go back to the arrangement which existed during the heydays of groundnut, cocoa, palm oil, and palm kernel.  They argue that when these cash crops were the mainstay of the economy, the regions were allowed to manage the resources.  Nigerian leaders argue that national control is needed to spread the wealth coming from oil and gas in order to ensure the common good.  The divergence of view between Nigeria and the Niger Delta is most profoundly felt in Ijaw areas of the region since Ijaw territory is the most deprived, marginalized and underdeveloped.  The Ijaws are indeed afraid that if they do not do something about the situation now, they could up with nothing after contributing generously to the development of Nigeria.   Each time they visit Oloibiri, they are reminded of what could happen to them if the oil runs dry.
Second, fearful that the citizens of the oil-producing region might get smart and demand control of their resources, Nigerians from the non-oil producing regions want to grab as much as possible of the oil revenue so that they can develop their regions and enrich themselves.  Unfortunately for the Niger Delta, those making decisions for Nigeria come largely from the non-oil producing regions.  These Nigerians twist national polices and programs to favor their regional and selfish interests.  These Nigerians are the owners of most of the oil blocks in the country.  Similarly, they are the greatest embezzlers of the oil wealth, after all, the oil is coming from someone else backyard, not theirs.  Since oil is flowing from someone else backyard, the looters have no moral qualms about stealing as much as possible. 
Third, due to the divergent interests, any Ijaw who accepts a high-level Federal Government appointment at this time automatically puts himself/herself at a political crosswire. The person is caught between trying to serve Nigeria and still being loyal to the Niger Delta.  As a federal official, if he/she shows extensive loyalty toward the oil region, the person would be accused by Nigeria of treasonable conduct.  On the other hand, if the person tilts toward Nigeria, he/she would be castigated for being traitorous.  Ijaw high-level federal officials must play a balancing game in order to avoid being accused by either side.
2.  The appointment of an Ijaw as an Army Chief of Staff is designed to use an Ijaw to destroy the Ijaws as the Niger Delta drifts in a different direction.
Thus, there is a tug of-war going on between Nigeria and the Niger Delta.  Consequently, it is difficult not to read political meanings into the actions of the Federal Government of Nigeria whenever an Ijaw is appointed to a certain national position at a certain time.   This being the case,the following provide the probable reasons which led to the appointment of an Ijaw to head the Nigerian Army:
First, an Ijaw was appointed to head the effort to crackdown Ijaw youths at a time when the armed forces were having much difficulty subduing the armed fighters.  This indicated the fact that the power wielders were cooking up a dirty game against the Ijaws.  Machiavelli suggested in the Prince that leaders should appoint others to do their dirty work for them so that they would not be blamed.  Adolf Hitler, Josef Stalin, Saddam Hussein, and many leaders in the world have closely followed the advice of the Florentine political guru.  Powerful nations routinely apply this tactics to subdue those they conquered or are conquering.  The British appointed Warrant Chiefs from various ethnic groups to lead the effort to pacify the groups in Nigeria.  They also created the West African Frontier Force (WAFF) and recruited Africans to subdue the African people for the British colonial effort. The Christian missionaries used converted Africans to convert the African people. 
Second, at the time of the appointment of Lt. Gen. Azazi, Nigeria was having difficulty penetrating the riverine areas of Ijawland.  The country needed someone who understand the terrain and could map out a strategy to enable the armed forces to operate successfully.  An Ijaw who had lived in the region will definitely understand the terrain much better than any other Nigerian. 
Third, the power-wielders wanted an Ijaw face at the front of the army in the event that an Odi or Okerenkoko or Odiama-like violations of human rights were to take place as the military tries to subdue the fighters.  If an abuse takes place, the powerwielders and other Nigerians would point to the fact that an Ijaw is the head of the army, thereby, deflecting international criticism.  You remember, the Ijaws pointed an accusing finger at Maj. Gen. Victor Malu because he was the head of the Army at the time Odi was destroyed.
Fourth, the decision-makers wanted an Ijaw son since the Ijaws were becoming proactively oppositional toward oil operations.   They hope that an Ijaw at the helm of the army would reduce Ijaw resistance to the Nigerian effort to subdue them.
Fifth, since the Ijaws seem to be very proactive in opposing the status quo, having an Ijaw at the helm of the army would serve Nigeria very well.   If the army cracks down real hard against any other ethnic group in the region, Nigeria can instigate other ethnic groups in the region to attack the Ijaws since their son is the head of the army.  The Federal Government can incite action by pointing out that the Ijaws are using their son to accomplish their desire to dominate the entire region.  This would frighten other ethnic groups in the region to align with Nigeria against the Ijaws.  It is very easy to manipulate information in the region due to territorial concerns.
Sixth, an Ijaw as the head of the army serves Nigeria well by enabling it to penetrate the inner circles of the Ijaw movements through planting of spies.  It is much easier for an Ijaw to recruit and plant other Ijaws to penetrate various groups in the region than a Yoruba or an Igbo or a Hausa or a Tiv.    Already, the story being circulated that the State of Bayelsa and Agip helped a Lebanese captive to escape clearly demonstrate what can happen if the Federal Government and the oil companies really want to disorganize the Ijaws.  They would simply use Ijaw sons and daughters by paying them generously to create confusion in the ethnic commonwealth, thereby, defeating the political effort at resource control.  If the story circulated by the Ijo Awome Investigative Organization on the Oil Block Owners Association and the assigned role of Gen. Azazi is believable, then the Ijaws who are clamoring for resource control must open their eyes and watch every situation like an eagle.  
Seventh, the Federal Government wants to reduce international criticism of the management of the situation.  By having an Ijaw head the army, it would be very difficult to sue or go to the International Court of Justice or International Criminal Court because the Ijaws would also be charging their son along with other Nigerian officials if violations take place.
Eighth, Lt. Gen Azazi is between a rock and a hard place.  He is answerable to President Obasanjo and the Nigerian Government and not to the Ijaw nation.  This means that he is responsible for carrying out the defence policies and orders of the Government of Nigeria.  Consequently, if he is instructed to buy arms that would be used to suppress the Niger Delta, he cannot object to the order.  If he does, he would be court-martialed for insubordination.  He could even be tried for treason for indirectly supporting the armed fighters against the sovereign state of Nigeria, if he refuses to carry out an order to use maximum force to eliminate threats to the national security in the Niger Delta.
Even if he carries out the orders of the president to the last letter, he is still in danger of tactically being neutralized or eliminated for being an Ijaw.  Already, he knows so much about the secret plans and deals that are being concocted.  To survive, he must constantly demonstrate his loyalty to the president and Nigeria by taking tough measures against the fighters.   In this regard, he could even be forced to make misleading statements intended to create a certain understanding so as to ensure the national security of Nigeria.  The power-wielders would always watch him through secret agents to make sure he conforms to what they want him to be.  He is really in a terrible situation.  If he carries out the orders of the president, he would be leading an army to destroy his own people and the people of the Niger Delta.  If that happens, the Ijaws would accuse him of being a traitor. If he refuses to do that, the Federal Government can arrest him for conniving with the fighters. 
3.  The appointment of Ijaws to the federal oil bureaucracy is always intended to deceive the Ijaws and the people of the Niger Delta.
It should be noted that due to the importance of manipulating and controlling the Niger Delta, Nigeria has always appointed the sons and daughters of the region based on strategic and tactical reasons.  In this regard, the appointment of Dr. Edmund Daukoru as the Minister of State for Petroleum and Dr. Abbiye Sekibo as the Minister of Transportation followed the same strategic script that have been used by the national power-wielders in the past.  Dr. Daukoru is intended to put a Niger Delta face on the tumultuous oil palaver.  It is Nigeria’s effort to trick the people of the region into believing that they are well represented in the Federal Government.  It is also intended to create the false impression that their son is directly involved in the administration of oil and gas management in the country.    However, the trick is not working because Dr. Daukoru’s appointment has not made any difference in the way oil blocks are distributed.  Similarly, those who have access to the oil wealth continue to embezzle undisturbed.  In addition, there is no doubt that a majority of those who own oil blocks are from the non-oil producing regions.  Likewise, there is no doubt that the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation NNPC) is still as porous as before in its management of the oil and gas industry.  In short, Dr. Daukoru is simply playing the role which other Niger Deltans have played in the past over the management of oil and gas bureaucracy in the country.  He is a figure-head intended to create a certain political image.  Otherwise, if he tries to change the oil block system or the management of the NNPC in a way that threatens the powers that be, the president would kick him out.  He should be very careful to avoid being set up the way Gen. Ibrahim Babangida attempted to have Dr. Tamuno David-West arrested  for corruption and the manner in which Dan Etete is being hounded.  Dr Sekibo was used to politically control a section of Rivers State.  After he did an excellent job, he was rewarded with a federal appointment.  Later, he was removed after the national players had gotten what they wanted.   To avoid being set up, Dr. Daukoru must keep records of every transaction carried out under his supervision.  He must also keep records of every order or request from the president and other national officials requesting the transfer of funds, in case of a future effort to probe him.
4.  The nomination of Dr. Goodluck Jonathan as the vice presidential candidate for the PDP is designed to neutralize the South-South and the South-East effort to gain the presidential ticket of the party.
The rationale which led to the appointment of Gen. Azazi also led to the nomination of Dr. Goodluck Jonathan as the vice presidential candidate of the Peoples Democratic Party   Similar to the joyous celebration which occasioned the appointment of the general, millions of Ijaws also rejoiced when Dr. Jonathan was nominated as the vice presidential candidate of the PDP.  There is no doubt that the same invisible people who selected Lt. Gen. Azazi are also responsible for selecting Dr. Jonathan.  Again, they wanted an Ijaw person who could be used to pacify the Ijaws.  The following provide the probable strategic reasons which led to the nomination of Dr. Jonathan:
First, those who are gaining tremendously from the present oil arrangement are frightened by the developments in the Niger Delta.  They know that most of the armed fighters are Ijaw youths.   They are convinced that an Ijaw vice president would help to reduce the armed resistance.
Second, if the PDP were to win the coming presidential election, Dr. Jonathan would become the vice president.  This means that he would be legally and politically obligated to carry out the national security goals of Nigeria.  Part of that goal would be to crush resistance in the Niger Delta if peaceful means do not lead to de-escalation of tension emanating from armed resistance.   He could actually become the political front-man to lead efforts to pacify the region. 
Third, as an Ijaw man, Nigeria would expect him to cough out information about those viewed as “troublemakers’ in Ijawland.  Whatever information he provides would be used to map out a strategy to launch attacks if peaceful negotiations do not yield a desirable end.  To succeed in compelling him to cough out information, he would be promised an oil block if everything goes as anticipated.
Fourth, as an Ijaw man, he would make it much easier to penetrate various movements in Ijawland because many Ijaw men and women would serve as his assistants.  Some of the assistants would be assigned to gather intelligence for the Federal Government of Nigeria.
Fifth,  Dr. Jonathan could be forced to engage in deeds that he would ordinarily oppose through threats.  It should be noted that he did not showed any interest in the vice presidential position.  He was campaigning to become the next governor of Bayelsa State when the Abuja players called to pick him as the vice presidential nominee for PDP, instead of Dr. Peter Odili who was a front runner for the job.  Consequently, as a vice president, in the event that the PDP wins the presidential election in April 2007, Abuja would remind him that he was only a small political fish in the back waters of Bayelsa State when they elevated him to the vice presidential position, so, he must pay back for the kindness rendered to him by Abuja.  Please, watch the Yoruba-based Nigerian movie titled “OYATO.”
Sixth, another factor which probably influenced the selection of Dr Jonathan as a vice presidential candidate was a plan to destroy the South-South and the South-East efforts to grab the top job in the country.  It appears that the powerwielders are not ready yet to allow someone from the South-South or the South-East to become the president of Nigeria.  The unwillingness to allow someone from the deep south to become a president could be prompted by the fact that most oil is found in the South-South and sections of the South-East.  The PDP powerwielders, it seems, made a secret deal to give the top job to the North.  In order to make the transfer of power to the North palatable, they decided to pick an Ijawman.  They  reasoned that other ethnic groups in the region would not be too eager to criticize an Ijaw for taking the vice presidential position.   In fact, the powerwielders predicted Ijaw response very well, hence, as soon as Dr. Jonathan was given the vice presidential position, the Ijaws immediately stop demanding for the top job.  As the Ijaws stop demanding for the top job, other ethnic groups too stop demanding for the top position.  This made it easy for the PDP to hand over the presidency to the North.
Seventh, Dr. Jonathan, it also seemed, was chosen to knock off Dr. Peter Odili as the number one contender of the PDP.
It appears that the president did not want Odili to become the flagbearer of the party.  However, he did not want to show publicly his disapproval of Odili.  So, he waited until the last moment before staging the political coup to offstage the ambitious governor of Rivers State.  It should be recalled that the arrival of the EFCC to Port Harcourt to probe public corruption coincided with the PDP primaries and Dr. Odili was busy trying to win support nationally.  The arrival of the EFCC immediately destroyed any chance of Dr. Odili getting the presidential nomination.  Why did the EFCC arrived Port Harcourt at the  time the South-South, South-East and the North were competing to produce the next presidential candidate for the party?  The probable answer is that the decisionmakers concocted the plan to destroy Dr. Odili since he was a major contender directly and indirectly representing the SS and SE at the same time against the Northern choice.
In any case, the appointment of Ijaw officials to critical national positions would not really make much difference in the way Nigeria treats the Niger Delta.  The wielders of power view the region as an easy means to accumulate personal wealth.  Consequently, they would simply appoint Ijaws to create false impressions and hide their actual motives.  This is not an understatement, after all, the appointment of Ijaw sons in the past to lead the NNPC and the oil bureaucracy did not make any difference in the way the Niger Delta was treated.  
The danger lurking ahead is that the Ijaws could end up having two of their prominent sons leading the Nigerian efforts to persecute them with Gen. Azazi as the head of the Army and Dr. Jonathan as the political front-man if the PDP wins the next presidential elections.  In the event that the PDP wins, there is a high probability that the powerwielders could make a strategic decision to keep Gen. Azazi as the head of the army.  In such a scenario, other ethnic groups would laugh uncontrollably at the Ijaws for being too greedy to grab power without seeing the traps laid against them.
Therefore, Ijaw people, be more analytical in your examination of Nigerian politics.  Whenever an Ijaw is appointed to any national position, do not jubilate until the implications are analyzed exhaustively because Abuja political lords are very tricky political players.  It was really unfortunate that when Vice President Atiku Abubakar revealed that the president had allocated $2 billion to purchase arms, some Ijaws could not wait before criticizing him for inciting the region.   Increasingly, it appears that the vice president was correct in saying that arms were being purchased.   The Ijaws should appreciate the fact that the vice president is talking.  The more he talks, the more the inner workings of the Abuja political machine are revealed to the public.
However, despite the bleak analytical view of the reasons for appointing Ijaw public officials at the federal level, it is unwise to jump to conclusion regarding their conduct.   The reason is that God works mysteriously.  May be, it was by divine intervention that Lt. Gen. Azazi and Dr. Jonathan should be placed at the corridors of national power at this critical juncture.  It is quite possible that they could work quietly to change things in Nigeria.  In fact, they can actually change the situation in the country since they have a first hand knowledge of the issues.  Working together, both can persuade Abuja to take the political rout instead of focusing on the military option.  After all, who ever thought that some of the youths who were recruited by national and regional political tycoons to cause havoc during the elections of 2003 in Rivers, Bayelsa, and Delta States would turn out to be the leading exponents of regional resource control today.    They are now the forces to be reckoned with and those who attempted to use them are now scratching their heads in an effort to contain them.  Indeed, Ijawland is filled with godly/spiritual mysteries, hence, those who think that they can use Ijaw sons to destroy the Ijaws could end up scratching their heads if Azazi and Jonathan turned out to become forces for positive development, not only in the Niger Delta but throughout Nigeria.
Furthermore, it could be visualized that, perhaps, those who wield power in Nigeria have finally decided to do the right thing.  Doing the right thing means appreciating the contributions that the Niger Delta has made toward the development of the country and treating its citizens as equal partners in the Nigerian project.  In this regard, perhaps, the appointment of two sons of Ijawland to very critical national positions could be a step toward repaying the damage done to the Ijaws for decades.   On this aspect, it is necessary to wait and see.
In any case, the best the Ijaws can do is to be very attentive by investigating, probing, analyzing, visualizing, theorizing, and acting to achieve concrete positive results.  Therefore, be wise, think deeply, and do not be misled by superficial actions and inactions

Strategic Factors and Options:  Defining Ijaw Goals and Objectives

By Priye S. Torulagha
Nigeria is at a critical point in time.   Due to failure of leadership and hopelessness, there is a scramble among the members of the polity for the piece of the akara, by any means possible.  Therefore, the importance of identifying strategic goals and objectives for the Ijaw nation becomes very essential. 
In continuation of earlier discussion, there is a need for further elaboration on the goals and objectives.
1.  The Ijaws must clearly identify their goals and objectives.   The ethnic goals must be separated from the regional goals and objectives.  This is to avoid misdirection and overextension.  Misdirection and overextension can lead to innumerable political and military problems.
2.  This does not mean shying away from regional goals.  It simply means that the Ijaws do not confuse the two.   Regional goals should be pursued in alliance with other ethnic groups in the region.  At the regional level, the Ijaws should work cooperatively and not try to dominate or overwork themselves to the point of exhaustion.  Moreover, it is necessary to avoid the perception that the Ijaws are trying to take over the entire region. 
National powerwielders would not have any hesitation in exploiting such a perception and turning other ethnic groups against the Ijaws, as stated earlier.  That was what happened to the Igbos before and during the civil war.  The Igbos lost more than a million people.
3.  The Ijaws must take steps to create an international understanding and support.  In this regard, it is necessary to communicate directly to the US, Britain, France, Canada, Venezuela, Brazil, Italy, the United Nations, African Union, and ECOWAS what are Ijaw goals and objectives, as well as Ijaw experience.  Events in the last seven years have shown that the Ijaws are the most abused citizens of Nigeria.  They are being abused physically, politically, economically, psychologically, and environmentally.  There is no hesitation on the part of the Federal Government of Nigeria to violate Ijaw rights.
4.  It could be said that after the Igbo ethnic group ( immediately before and during the ciivl war), the Ijaws have been the most violated.  Whenever the military is sent into an Ijaw community, there is a tendency to destroy everything and kill everybody.  The members of the armed forces generally do not exercise caution when intervening in Ijaw communities.  For instance, In Eastern Ijawland, supposedly to contain Dokubo Asari, military air raids were conducted.  Again, to supposedly stop oil bunkering, Ijaw communities were bombarded from the air in the Western zone.
Generally, when an Ijaw community is ravaged through malicious military operation, there is no national clamor for compensation.  The president has never said that Nigeria will compensate the people of Okerenkoko, Odi, Odiama etc. for what federal security forces have done.  If not for the hostage crisis, it is doubtful whether Gov. James Ibori of Delta State would have mentioned anything about supplying anything to the victims of the air raids in Gbaramatu.  The attitude is that it is a fair game to kill an Ijaw, hence, there is no national will to compensate any Ijaw community.   Even the National Assembly has never appropriated any money for compensation after military attacks.  Why are the Ijaw negotiators not demanding compensation for the air-raids and the destruction of Ijaw communities as part of the deal?
5.  It is necessary for the Ijaws to speak with one voice and warn that the ethnic nation will not tolerate any more military incursion into Ijaw territory that results in unnecessary killing of innocent Ijaw people.
Since President Obasanjo became president, the Ijaws have never killed anyone just for the purpose of killing.  The only circumstances which led to Ijaw fights involved territorial disputes with its neighbors.  On the other hand, in the North and West, people have been killed many times for no justifiable reasons.  The Airforce has never been used to stop the constant carnage resulting from religious riots.  Yet, in response to any slight altercation in Ijawland, the military is sent to devastate entire communities.
Only in Ijawland is the policy that an entire community could be punished for the transgressions of the few is being carried out repeatedly in Nigeria. 
The notion that an entire community could be bombed from air for oil bunkering is simply unacceptable, after all, the major oil bunkerers are some of the power-wielders in the country who have become multimillionaires and billionaires for stealing oil.
6.  The Ijaws must insist that Nigeria include budgetary expenditures for programs intended for Ijaw  development in the national budget.  It is rather surprising that since 1960, Ijawland has never received any budget allocation for any national developmental purpose. 
On the other hand, the Federal Government allocates money regularly to various parts of the country for projects and ignore Ijawland entirely as if it is not part of Nigeria.  For example, the Federal Executive Council recently voted to allocate money for infrastructural enhancement in some parts of the country without providing anything for Ijawland or the Niger Delta, the breadbasket of the country’s economy.  Look at the following list of items approved by the Federal Executive Council:
a.   N1.66 for construction of lecture theaters, faculty and administration buildings at the permanent site of the University of Abuja.  This is the same Abuja that received billions of oil money to turn it into a glamorous city.
b.  N58 million for a science building at the University of Agriculture in Abeokuta,  Ogun State.
  1. N2.4 billion multipurpose dam at Ilesha, Osun State.
d.  N96.2 million for engineering design for Palagari-Alawa-Bassa-Galadima-Kogo-
      Shiroro in Niger State
  1. N791.6 million to construct marine fenders for safer jetty smoother landing in
Various ports.
Nothing for Ijawland or the Niger Delta.   The Niger Delta is always forgotten in national appproriations.  Yet, Niger Delta Public officials remain quiet.  Of course, most of the money for all these projects comes from the Niger Delta. 
The Ijaws have been too quiet and allow the power-wielders to bypass them and distribute financial and capital budget resources to other regional areas of the country.
The Niger Delta Development Commission (NDDC) is not enough to handle the situation.  Therefore, the Federal Government should not assume that the NDDC is sufficient enough to meet the developmental needs of the region.  The Federal Ministries of Works, Health, and Transport need to be more actively involved in the development of the Niger Delta.
7.  Demand the creation of at least two Ijaw states.  Right now, the Ijaws are being short-changed.   The Ijaws receive only one share of the national budget in the form of Bayelsa State.  The Ijaws in other states do not receive any direct financial allocation. On the other hand, the Yorubas, Igbos and the Hausa-Fulanis receive at least five shares, based on the number of states in their ethnic areas.  For example, the Yorubas receive a share of the national budget through Ekiti, Lagos, Ogun, Ondo, Osun, and Oyo States, plus a chunk of Kogi or Kwara State.  The Igbos do so through Abia, Anambra, Ebonyi, Enugu, and Imo States, plus a chunk of Delta State.  The Hausa-Fulani gain most through more than seven states.  Almost all the revenue comes from oil.  This means that the Ijaws receive only a fraction of revenue from the national budget while the total revenue of the three big ethnic groups outnumbered those of the oil-producing states.  Of course, the Ijaws were one of the earliest groups to demand the creation of states and they are the last to receive a state.
8.  Ijaw public officials who are serving at the local, state, and national levels should be more proactive in bringing resources to their areas.  It is unfortunate that Ijaw elected officials did not scream when the Federal Executive Council approved the recent budget allocation for the infrastructural development of  Western and Northern areas of the country without anything for Ijawland or the Niger Delta.
Ijaw public officials seem too eager to please or kowtow to the national power-wielders.  Whenever the president dictates, Ijaw public officials bend over heels to please him, even though he is responsible for some of the political problems in the Niger Delta.  For example, when Chief DSP Alamieyeseigha was the governor, the president almost scolded him for Odi without replying vigorously to defend the Ijaw position.  The president made an ultimatum and broke it in order to hurriedly sent troops to Odi.  After devastating Odi, Ijaw public officials sheepishly remained quiet.  The same repeated himself at Odiama.  The Delta sub-region has been invaded so many times.  The same is happening again with the hostage situation and the attack on Ijaw communities. 
For once, why not tell the president that he is the cause of the crisis.  For instance, after the four hostages were released, the president and his advisers decided to send helicopter gunships to attack Ijaw communities, thereby, precipitating the current hostage crisis.  Why not tell him to act right or let him be solely responsible for solving the problem?  He continues to scream and give orders as if regional public officials are military officers that must obey his order without dissension.  By the way, under a federal system of government, power is supposed to be divided between the national government and the states.  Thus, state public officials are supposed to be elected directly by their own people just as the president is also elected by the people.  Consequently, the president constitutionally does not have the power to order state elected officials around as if they are employees of the federal government.  Yet, public officials in Bayelsa and Delta States are falling over the place to please the president who is responsible for creating the current crisis by sending the Airforce to provoke retaliation.
It is surprising that Ijaw public officials and public figures are not using the negotiations to demand for compensation for forty years of exploitation and the destruction of various Ijaw towns and villages.
9.  Put pressure on Shell to pay the $1.5 billion compensation that it owed the people of Bayelsa.  Similarly, the oil companies should be made to pay for destruction of farmland and fishing grounds throughout Ijawland.  These things can be negotiated peacefully if ethnic leaders are committed.
10.  Put pressure on the Federal Government to stop the distribution of oil blocks (blogs) to highly connected individuals.  If oil is a national resource, why not allow the NNPC to manage it instead of allowing individuals to own the shares.  The existing system leads to massive corruption and deprivation of the rights of the oil-producing states.   Those who have been feasting on the oil blocks should be made to refund the incomes earned since the oil blocks were illegally distributed without the knowledge of the indigenes of the oil-producing region.  
Demand 50/50% shares between the Federal Government and the oil-producing states.  In other words, the government should have a 50% share and the oil-producing states 50% in oil block distribution. 
11.   It is time to reenergize the Ijaw National Congress. 
  1. The first step is to make sure that the leadership position is rotated accordingly.  This means that no leader should be allowed to serve more than one term.  It is destructive to the strategic interest of the ethnic group when three zones compete for the position.  Proper rotation would eliminate what happened when Dr. Kimse Koko decided to manage the organization after his time had expired. 
  1. The INC and IYC must operate as neutral bodies.  This means that they should not be closely identified with any political party or individual.  They should not tie their identity with that of any public official.  This is to avoid polarization as had happened when DSP Alamieyesiegha got into trouble.
  1. The INC and IYC must always consult the leadership of the three zones before taking any position on any matter.
  1. It is the responsibility of these two organizations to monitor the activities of state governments so that budgets are used wisely to benefit the people.
12. Again, differentiate ethnic goals and objectives from regional goals and objectives.  Mixing both together is the easiest way to court political trouble for the ethnic nation.
13.   Any activity intended to achieve the goals of the ethnic group must be limited to Ijaw territory so that other ethnic groups do not feel threatened.
14.  The government of Bayelsa State must always look beyond the boundaries of the State and include Eastern and Western Ijawland in making certain decisions.  Similarly, the people of Bayelsa State should not differentiate themselves from Eastern and Western Ijawland.  To do so is to play into the hands of those who specialize in divide and conquer tactics.
In this regard, it was very shameful that during the first hostage crisis, Bayelsan public officials tried to blame Western Ijaw citizens and some Western Ijaw leaders tried to blame Bayelsans for the crisis.  That was indeed shameful.   It meant that they were not equipped to become ethnic leaders.   Instead of blaming each other, the strategy should be that whenever there is a crisis, the leadership of the three zones (both youths and elders) must come together to devise a strategy in confronting the problem, instead of blaming each other.  After all, the suffering affects all Ijaw people, not just people in Bayelsa or Rivers or Delta or Ondo or Edo, or Akwa Ibom   

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 Need for Skillful Diplomacy

By Priye S. Torulagha

These are very trying moments in Nigeria.  It is particularly a very delicate period for the Ijaws.  Therefore, the Ijaws need to develop and master the art of diplomacy in order to manage the multifarious events that are threatening the Ijaw nation.  In short, this period calls for those with diplomatic skills and strategic thinking capability to paddle the ethnic group across the tumultuous ocean of political mind-fields.   The following areas demand skillful diplomatic and negotiating skills.

1.   Rivers State:  Mr. Felix Tuodolo wrote an interesting piece in which he attempted to find a reason why almost all Ijaw groups in Rivers State are experiencing destabilization under the governorship of Dr. Odili. The once very peaceful state is embroiled in all kinds of conflicts including bloody rivalry between cults, armed groups, Nigeria's security operations to flush out Ijaw fighters, and the alleged Nigerian use of biochemical weapons to attack forces belonging to Asari Dokubo.

To understand the Rivers State situation, on must go back to the periods immediately before, during, and after the Civil War. The reason why almost all Ijaw communities in Rivers State are embroiled in some kind of conflict has to do with oil and the need to control Rivers State. One major factor which contributed to the Nigerian civil war was the need to control the source of oil.  Port Harcourt is a major strategic location if one really wants to control the flow of oil.  There have always been attempts to claim Port Harcourt. To be able to do so, the first goal is to destabilize the Ijaws by turning them against each other. While they fight among each other, the outside forces can quietly lay siege to the area and claim it at a minimum cost.  The capture of Port Harcourt will open a major seaport for the consolidation of power by those who want it. The Ijaws should not forget that there are those who believe that the Ijaws were responsible for the downfall of Biafra. There are also those who believe that the Ijaws humiliated them during the Abandoned Property issue. There are also those who believe that the Ijaws must always be marginalized in order to reduce their ability to resist exploitation.  Do not forget that Isaac Boro was killed as the federal forces were about to capture Port Harcourt.  He was killed so that he would not arouse the Ijaws to action and pose a threat to the power-wielders in Nigeria as Rivers State was being liberated. Consequently, the Ijaws would be making a strategic mistake to ignore the political events of the epochal 1960s. In fact, the Ijaws have been behaving politically as if they had forgotten the geopolitics of the civil war. Those who felt humiliated do not forget. Therefore, what happened then indirectly contributes to the Port Harcourt situation today.

It can even be said that Bayelsa was created to weaken the Ijaw presence in Rivers State so that those who want to take control can do so quite easily. If not, the creation of Bayelsa would have been done in such a way that would have resulted in boundary adjustments involving Rivers, Delta, Edo, and Ondo States. In short, two Ijaw states would have been created to reduce balkanization of the ethnic group.

In international diplomatic and strategic military games, nation-states and groups sometimes pretend to support groups that they really hate. By doing so, they gain the trust of their foes, study their weaknesses and lay the traps to get them annihilated. Thus, the Ijaw groups in Rivers State are being treated similarly. Those with ulterior motives come in as friends, supply arms to various factions and encourage them to fight and destroy each other.  While they are fighting each other, land grab is taking place to consolidate economic and political power by the outside interests to the disadvantage of the Ijaws. In short, the Ijaws are being decimated politically, economically, and militarily in the state to make way for the outside interests to take over.

Another common tactics often deployed in political stratagems is the use of public officials from targeted and disadvantaged groups to justify official decimation of their strategic interests.  Increasingly, Rivers officials from Ijaw areas are being used as spokespersons to announce strong-arm military tactics against Ijaw interests. These tactics are always intended by political and military leaders to legitimize the perpetration of unacceptable or abusive acts against targeted or disadvantaged groups in order to create the impression that the government is working very hard to protect them from harm, when, in reality, the government is actually working to destroy them. In other words, if you want to destroy the Ijaws, use Ijaw public officials as spokesmen and women to justify actions being taken against their own people.

2.  The time for Rapprochement among Rivers State Ijaws: The Ijaws in Rivers State are not helping themselves, to a great extent. They have not been able to patch up age-old rivalry. It is not a secret that the Ibani, Kalabari, and Okrika have been at both Cold and Hot Wars for decades. This means that they have previously fought each other physically and have developed a certain level of animosity which makes it difficult for them to work together.  The outside forces have studied the relationship and comprehend the age-old animosity. As a result, they are exploiting the Cold War by instigating violent rivalries to keep the Ijaws busy while they incrementally gulp up Rivers State.  An extensive resocialization of thought is needed to make them become aware of the threat from the outside if they do not consolidate their interests.

If the three sub-groups and Andonni/Opobo were to join forces, no outside force would be able to penetrate the sub-region. Can you imagine if Dokubo, Ateke, and others were to join forces?

3.  The Federal Attack on Asari Dokubo:  The Ijaws need to think very deeply about what is going on. The Ijaws are considered to be the greatest impediment to the grabbing of the oilfields in the Niger Delta. The national strategy is to weaken the Ijaws by any means possible. If the allegations concerning the use of biochemical weapons against the Ijaw fighters led by Alhaji Dokubo were true, it definitely confirms the suspicion that the Federal Government is trying to do to the Ijaws what Sudan is doing in Southern and Western Sudan. Southern and Western Sudan has oil and there have been attempts to drive the original inhabitants out of their own territory to make way for total nationalization of the resources. There have been such designs on the Niger Delta, hence, oil is totally nationalized in Nigeria. This accounted for why the Federal Government wickedly tried to destroy the Ogonis. This is why the Federal Government does not hesitate to use excessive force in the region.

The Ijaws should be appreciative of the ongoing negotiations between President Obasanjo and the leadership of the Niger Delta Peoples Volunteer Force to lower tension but they must remain very vigilant. The president decided to negotiate after making so many attempts to kill Dokubo. The president realizes that an all out war would defeat the purpose of the national power-wielders. The power-wielders realize that a total war would result in the stoppage of oil operations. If oil operations are stopped, Nigerias economy would collapse and those who want to become multimillionaires and billionaires would not be able to achieve their objectives. The position taken by the Niger Delta Peoples Volunteer Force also threatens the international economy of the industrialized countries, hence, the president decided to act nice instead of unleashing the full weight of the Nigerian military. In addition, it appears that the president was advised by his foreign allies against launching a total war on the Niger Delta armed groups, knowing full well the potential negative economic and political impact on the world economy, of such effort.  This accounted for the president's desire to make peace by negotiating with Dokubo and Ateke.

One should add that it is strategically and tactically impossible for an outside force to provide total protection of the oil fields and flow stations, no matter the level of force deployed to do so. The tactical difficulty is caused by the terrain and the refusal or unwillingness by Nigeria's leaders to develop the Niger Delta while taking from it to build other parts of the country. Due to the highly underdeveloped nature of the region, it is inaccessible to a mechanized military force and there are hundreds if not thousands of creeks, islands, lakes, and rivers in the region. The oil facilities are scattered all over the region, thereby creating logistical problems for the military to mobilize its forces.   The Navy cannot penetrate the region with large gun boats. It can only do so with lightly armed speed boats.   Since the region is not developed, airforce bombing would not make much difference, apart from causing massive explosions of the oil facilities and killing thousands of innocent people. On the other hand, it is very easy for an armed group to destabilize any oil pipeline or flow-station. In the event of a major conflict, the soldiers and navy personnel guiding the flow-stations would actually be endangering themselves since those oil facilities are like kicking time bombs. Ijaw people, all these tactical and logistical factors forced the president to negotiate rather than try to use heavy-handed military tactics. He has not change his view of the Niger Delta. He is placed in a situation he cannot win militarily, hence, his decision to act in a non-threatening manner, for now.

Having negotiated, Ijaw youth leaders must now be watchful. The reason being that since heavy-handed military operation would likely cause an international uproar and severe economic damage, the power-wielders could now decide to rely on tactical elimination of Ijaw youth leaders by sponsoring assassination squads, intra-group rivalry among the Ijaw groups, and fifth column activities. This scenario is not far-fetched, after all, Isaac Boro, Dele Giwa, Dr. Obi Wali, Pa Rewane, Chief Ken Saro-Wiwa, Mrs. Abiola, Chief M. K. O. Abiola, Chief Marshall Harry, Chief Dikibo etc. were eliminated tactically.  Mr. Dokubo hinted that on many occasions, when the president sent a team to negotiate with him and his boys, thereafter, the military would attack their positions.  This indicated that presidential negotiations in the immediate past with Dokubo were decoys intended to locate his specific position so that he would be eliminated. Thus, Dokubo of the Niger Delta Peoples Volunteer Force and Ateke's Niger Delta Vigilante should particularly watch out and not make careless mistakes.  They should make peace and work politically for the cause.

4.  The Warri Situation:  The Delta State situation is not improving despite peace efforts. The reason being that a determined effort is being made to drive the Ijaws out of the Warri area.  Each time the Ijaws agree to certain peace terms, the other side would come up with diplomatic and legal tricks to outfox the Ijaws.  Like in Rivers State, the Federal Government does not hesitate to use strong-arm military tactics against the Ijaws in the Western zone. Obviously, on both zones of the heartland,  there is a concerted effort to neutralize the Ijaws politically and militarily. The Joint Tasks Forces are particularly directed against the Ijaws and not to protect lives and properties.

5.  Federal Attitude Toward the Ijaws:  The Federal Government has repeatedly mobilized air, naval and ground forces against the Ijaws. Yet, in the North where most Nigerians have been killed, the Federal Government, led by President Obasanjo, has never mobilized the forces in an extensive manner to counter the killings.  Likewise, even though the Sharia Law is a major constitutional violation of the national sovereignty of Nigeria, President Obasanjo is willing to tolerate it. He will not tolerate such an affront on the national character of the nation if the Sharia had originated from the Niger Delta.  The Federal Government has never been willing to rehabilitate Ijaw victims of various crises.  Yet, the Federal Government often eagerly rehabilitates victims of crises in other parts of the country. President Obasanjo thinks that he can get away with decimating the Ijaws and make himself a hero of those who put him in power.   According to the World Bank Report, two officials within Obasanjo's administration are capable of paying off the $34 billion foreign debt that Nigeria owes. Where did these two officials get the billions?  How did they accumulate such wealth in a country where individuals rarely generate wealth from serious economic investment?  What kinds of investments do they have that can generate wealth amounting to about $20 billion each?   If these Nigerians are so rich, why is it that Forbes Magazine had never listed them as some of the richest men in the world?  It is obvious that they stole the money from the oil revenue.

As the Nigerian situation becomes desperate, there is a scramble to grab even more of the oil wealth. Therefore, those in position of power want to grab as much as possible in case the country collapses. This further adds to the urgency of neutralizing the Ijaws in order to make way for the oil to flow undisturbed. It should not be surprising that President Obasanjo who has been talking about fighting corruption refused to release the list of public officials alleged to have ferreted away $170 billion between 1999 and 2003. It should not be surprising that the scramble to grab the oil wealth will continue, regardless of what the president or any body says about fighting corruption. There is a strong feeling among the power-wielders that soon or later, the Niger Delta people would eventually succeed in obtaining resource control.  To beat that time, there is an uncontrollable or pathological desire among the high and mighty to loot as much as possible. 

It is understandable why large ocean going ships such as the M. T. African Pride and M.T. Jimoh that were in the custody of Nigeria's security forces, particularly the Navy, easily disappeared from sight (Iighodaro & Agande, 2004, September 24). Rear Admiral Antonio Bob-Manuel, the former Flag Officer and Commander of the Western Naval Command made an interesting revelation about how highly connected Nigerians scrambled to free the ships from the custody of the Navy. The most consistent thing about President Obasanjo's leadership has been the perpetual fear of locking horns with the high and mighty who are primarily responsible for wantonly embezzling the wealth of the nation. Since the beginning of his presidency, President Obasanjo has done everything possible to avoid challenging and forcing the high and mighty to comply with the laws of Nigeria.

6.  It is obvious that President Obasanjo is becoming very desperate. Before this time, he had convinced himself that he was God sent to save Nigeria. After the World Bank Report on the $170 billion and persistent criticism by many Nigerians about his lackluster regime, he has finally realized that his stewardship of the nation seems to be the worst that Nigeria has ever had.  He does not want to go down in history in such a disgraceful fashion.  The only way he can pretend to be doing something tangible is to get tough on the politically powerless. He has consistently picked on the politically powerless. He does not shy away from unleashing the military against the politically powerless groups while ignoring the transgressions of the powerful. Desperation is forcing him to behave as if he is a military dictator and that Nigeria is still under a military regime. Chief Ojukwu's refusal to kowtow to the SSS has shaken the foundation of the PDP imposed authoritarian system, thereby, exposing the illegitimacy of the regime, after all, the 2003 elections were stolen through Ghana Must GO Bags and manipulation.

Due to desperation, the Ijaws must understand why President Obasanjo will not hesitate to use strong-arm military tactics against them. He thinks that by acting tough against the Ijaws, he can restore his reputation as a no no-sense effective leader. However, since he is acting under desperation, each time he tries to act tough, he creates more problems for himself. For instance, the attack on Odi actually damaged his reputation. His order to attack Zaki Biam internationalized  his ineptitude. His inability to stop corruption or stop the high and mighty embezzlers from further looting the nations wealth portrays him as a man without courage to serve as a leader. He is no longer calling for debt reduction or forgiveness, having been told that Nigeria's public officials have more than the entire national debt in their foreign bank accounts. He is afraid to tell them to return the money.

The Ijaws need to be careful and avoid serving as cannon fodder for his desperate attempts to show that he is a tough leader. Therefore, it was a very smart political move when the Ijaw Youth Council decided to intervene and resolve the dispute between Asari Dokubo and Ateke Tom. It was a very smart diplomatic move for the IYC to insist that the Federal Government should not rely on military operations in the Rivers State to stop conflicts (Ighodaro, 2004, September 8). It was an excellent political move when the Ogbeh-Ijoh Volunteer Front (OVF) warned that the peace accord between the Ijaws and the Itsekiris was faltering and that the process needed to be fairly implemented by the state government. It is always better to communicate in advance before engaging in action. By warning in advance that something needed to be done, the Ijaws sent a clear message that they were not happy with the situation in Warri. The Ijaws also responded marvelously when the National Association of Gbaramatu Students (NAGS) responded very quickly to the Itsekiri demand for the convening of elections in the three local government councils in Warri (Amaize, 2004, September 28).  Asari Dokubo and his associates too have been diplomatically skillful in not taking very rigid stance on the Niger Delta issue. This enabled them to listen to various concerns and to negotiate when the opportunity offered itself. In other words, talk first and fight later as a last resort. If you fight before you talk, even if you are right or justified, the propaganda war would be directed against you. To avoid that, explain to everyone your feelings about a situation. If the situation is not resolved, then you have a right to engage in action, whether constitutionally or otherwise.

7.  Eagerness to Negotiate:  While it is always preferable to leave the door open for negotiation and to compromise, in diplomacy, it is not always wise to give in too quickly. Giving in too quickly can easily result in the defeat of the original intent or objective.  It is necessary to use the window of opportunity since the entire world is now focused on the Niger Delta to (a) compel the Federal Government to release the names of those who embezzled the $170 billion between 1999 and 2003, (b) compel the Federal Government to either increase revenue accruing to the oil-producing states or grant resource control, (c) compel the Federal Government to allocate a substantial sum of money for the environmental cleaning of the region, (d) compel the Federal Government to seriously commit to investing real money in developing the Niger Delta, (e) compel the Federal Government to abolish the Land Use Decrees, (f) compel the Federal Government to give back to the oil-producing states portions of returned embezzled funds and (g) compel the oil companies to negotiate with the communities in which they do business. 

In diplomacy, a window of opportunity is the best time to press on necessary demands, even if not all of them are realizable. The convening of a National Conference should not be the only point of initial demand, after all, a risk was taken in the first place to challenge the status quo. The Federal Government can easily agree to the convening of a National Conference and later politically dribble the Ijaws by working with other political zones to confound the National Conference. The Ijaws should not forget that there are more Non-oil Producing States (NOPS) than Oil-Producing States (OPS).  This means that politically, the peoples of the Niger Delta are in for a long political duel. Consequently, it is wise to use every window of opportunity to clearly state Ijaw demands.

8.  Ijaw Public Officials:  Ijaw public officials serving either at the national or state levels should be more diplomatic in their expression of support for Federal Government action that appears to be controversial and contradictory. For instance, the SSS effort to talk to Chief Ikemba should not be supported by a public official of Ijaw ethnicity for the simple reason that if such a position is supported, it creates a room for others to support any destructive policy or action that the Federal Government might take against Ijaw interests. In other words, it is diplomatically not sound to support an unpopular policy since the same could be used against your own people. Let the power-wielders who made the policy decision in the first place explain to Nigerians by showing their own faces why they take the action.Let the Inspector General of Police or the SSS director speak on the matter. It is a very popular Machiavellian tactics for political and military leaders to make someone else bear responsibility for carrying out an unpopular act.  Machiavelli had advised in the Prince that leaders should make others carry out their dirty deeds so that they can claim to be innocent. Both Gen. Ibrahim Babaginda and Sani Achaba used others to carry out their dirty deeds.  The PDP system relies heavily on using others to carry out their dirty deeds, hence, assassinations are common and the police authorities are not too eager to properly investigate assassination cases.

9.  Ijaw Public Officials and the National Debate:   There is no doubt that Ijaw elected public officials continue to be inactive participants in debating the great issues that affect the nation. Their extreme quietness continues to be disturbing, since in politics, those who talk the loudest seem to command more political attention than those who do not speak. In short , those who have no opinion in critical matters are like those who do not vote. They nullify their importance politically by not contributing to the debate. In fact, in diplomatic traditions and parliamentary procedures, those who do not contribute to a debate or abstain by not voting or taking a position, indirectly give away their political significance. Comparably, when elected Ijaw public officials do not make serious comments about public policies and actions that affect the body politics of the country, they are viewed as actually supporting the government's positions.  In other words, when elected Ijaw public officials do not make comments about actions taken by the Federal Government against the Ijaws or the people of the Niger Delta, their quietness is viewed upon as a sign of support for the federal actions.  This encourages the Federal Government to be even more suppressive of the rights of the Ijaws.

On the other hand, one must congratulate Gov. DSP. Alamieyeseigha of Bayelsa for increasingly speaking out.  He spoke for millions when he lambasted the Federal Government for its double standards and lack of political will.  He advised,

            Government should initiate the political will to engage the stakeholders for peace

            and secuirty in the Niger Delta area, especially the youths, with frank discussion

            on the way forward.  programes and policies need to be intitiated to address the

            rising tide of youth unrest in thie beleaguered region.  I dare say that the Niger

            Delta has experienced the worst human rights violations in Nigeria. (Andor &

            Okocha, 2004, September 17).

He also did not minced words in condemning the oil companies for their destabilizing activities in the Niger Delta.  He said, " These oil and gas multinational corporations encourage militias, sponsor communal crises, breed sectional interests and conflicts in their host communities, and are believed to purchase firearms and ammunitions for the youths" (Ibid; Ojeifo, Septemebr 17, 2004) If all Ijaw elected public officials begin to speak more loudly, Nigeria's policymakers and the oil companies would become more cautious in violating the rights of the Ijaws. On the other hand, if Ijaw elected public officials continue to remain quiet while the Federal Government and the oil companies continue to carry out activities that are in violations of the rights of the people, it diplomatically means that they support the actions against their own people.

Apart from the governor, other elected Ijaw public officials must speak out. After all, they claim to be the representatives of their people. It should be noted that since 1999, non-public officials, who are nonetheless public figures, have been primarily responsible for speaking out while the elected public officials tended to act timidly as if they are afraid of something or do not have the intellectual foresight to influence public policy in Abuja. One could even argue that due to the failure of the elected public officials to speak out, Nigeria's policymakers are not really aware of the seriousness of the Niger Delta situation. If Ijaw representatives had put sufficient pressure and encourage representatives from other parts of the country to take organized trips through the Niger Delta, resistance toward increasing money for the development of the region would have lessened. Thousands of innocent Ijaw people have been killed by federal security forces due to the failure of Ijaw elected public officials to speak out and condemn the unwarranted killings. Of course, it is not too late for Ijaw representatives to suggest in the National House of Assembly that members take organized special trips through the Niger Delta and see things for themselves. 

Non-elected Ijaw public figures and private citizens who have taken the risk to voice their opinions or take action should be congratulated for their efforts to change the intolerable situation in the region. They should continue to voice their opinions and act to put pressure and internationalize the struggle. As destructive as the rivalry between Ateke and Dokubo has been, it has re-internationalized the Niger Delta struggle by linking what goes on in the Niger Delta with the international economy. The price of crude oil reached $50 per barrel as soon as Dokubo announced an intention for arms struggle. The Warri wars first connected the Niger Delta directly with the world economy when oil production in Nigeria was reduced by 40%.  Chief Ken Saro Wiwa brought international respectability to the Niger Delta struggle.

10.   Speaking with one voice:  If there is any period in Ijaw history which requires every one to speak with one voice, this is it as the Niger Delta gradually slides into a Darfur-like situation. The Ijaws must learn to speak as one and stick together. They should begin to view the Niger Delta situation in terms of a collective security system in which an attack against one Ijaw community is treated as an attack against all Ijaws. Strategically speaking, it is no longer appropriate to view an incident in one part of Ijawland as a disconnected event that does not have bearing on the entire ethnic nation. In other words, the Ijaws should no longer view Warri as a Western Ijaw affair or the fighting around Port Harcourt and Andonni as an Eastern Ijaw affair. 

To continue to do so means playing into the hands of the national power-wielders and the oil companies. These stakeholders want the Ijaws to feel and believe that Warri, Bayelsa, and Port Harcourt are isolated cases.  It is a divide and conquer tactics to make the Ijaws think provincially or clannishly. In fact, the Rivers State Chairman of the Nigerian Advance Party (NAP), Mr. J. Sodienye, played into this game when he attempted to explain that the problems in the Degema area are unconnected to his own area (Bonny). According to him, there has been no casualty in Bonny, where he hails from. By separating Bonny from the Degema situation, he fails to acknowledge the big strategic picture about the intentions of the national players who want to dominate the entire Niger Delta.   What happens if what is happening in Kalabariland were to suddenly take place in Bonny, would he be so eager to have federal forces come to Bonny and shoot recklessly? Unfortunately, there are many Ijaw public officials who still cannot grab the strategic implications of various federal actions. The federal use of heavy weaponry against Odi, Asari Dokubo, Ateke Tom, and in the Warri area are intended to totally render the Ijaws incapable of any form of resistance. Therefore, to permit any federal military incursion is to encourage the destruction and annihilation of the Ijaws.

Regardless of gang rivalry, it is not wise for any Ijaw to tolerate the deployment of heavily armed federal forces in Ijaw territory. After all, despite thousands of killings that had taken place in the North, President Obasanjo had never deployed ground and air forces against armed gangs in the North, apart from Plateau State. Even the ongoing military operation against the Taliban in the North-East region bordering Cameroon is cautiously executed in order to avoid unnecessary civilian casualties. In the Niger Delta, the military is ordered to shoot at anything that moves.  So, the security forces shoot recklessly and drop bombs with total disregard for innocent people. 

To speak with one voice, the Ijaw National Congress and the Ijaw Youth Council should now become the official mouthpieces of the ethnic group. Anyone who wants to make a public statement should try to consult first with these bodies so that contradictory statements can be avoided. The INC and IYC leaders must speak more often in expressing the Ijaw position. As soon as an ethnic consultation has taken place concerning any matter and an official position has been taken, no high-level Ijaw public official should counteract the official position, regardless of whether the person is in government or not. The exception to this rule would be in situations where these bodies are viewed as being compromised or corrupted. In such situations, it would be proper for an individual or a group to speak by taking a contrary position, even if such a position does not agree with the INC or IYC.


Likewise, it is time to remove the geographic categorizations (Eastern, Central or Southern, and Western) from the discussion of Ijawland.  Such application hinders the ability to work together. An Ijaw should be an Ijaw and not Eastern or Central or Western Ijaw. If the people regard themselves in totality as one indivisible unit, then the national players would become more careful in dealing with the Ijaws. When any part of Ijawland is attacked, all Ijaws must come together and condemn it, not just those affected by the operation. This is the only way to achieve collective security.

11.  Unifying Symbols:  To bring the people together, it is time to design an Ijaw national anthem and a flag. After all, every Ijaw village, town, and clan has an anthem as well as a flag. An anthem and a flag would become unifying symbols of the oneness of the entire people. Let Ijaw songwriters develop an anthem while the artists design a flag. 
The Igbos demonstrated a high degree of oneness when they took one day off to celebrate Biafra Day. They have also showed that they can come together to defend strategic interests when they supported Chief Ikemba on the SSS matter. The Ijaws did not pursue the assassinations of Marshall Harry and Dikibo with determined efforts.

12.  Oil Charter:  It is time for the Ijaws to make an international declaration saying that Ijawland belongs to the Ijaws and only them can decide who comes to their land to invest or explore for oil.  In this regard, an Oil Charter should be declared saying that any company that wants to explore for oil in Ijawland must first consult with the Ijaws and gain approval before it engages in oil or gas exploration. This does not mean that Ijawland is not part of Nigeria. It simply means that they will decide in their own part of the nation how to manage the land.  After all, if a person were to go to Abuja or Lagos or Kano to set up a business or build a house, the person must first negotiate with the land- owner. Generally, it is only after an agreement has been struck concerning the value of the landed property before the business is actually set up or the house built. Ordinarily, the government does not tell a landowner how much he/she should charge for a land.  In the same vein, the Ijaws should have a right to negotiate with an oil company the value of the land before the company begins to do business on the land.  The most judicious thing for the government to do is tax the landowner for the income earned through renting the land for a business purpose.  

There should be no need to engage in confrontational tactics against Nigeria.  Instead of focusing on Nigeria, focus on the oil companies.  Let them know that they cannot do business in Ijawland without first negotiating with the Ijaw people. When both the Ijaw National Congress and the Ijaw Youth Council make this declaration, the oil companies will take note and change their tactics.  They would begin to take the Ijaws more seriously, knowing full well that unauthorized presence in any land would not be appreciated.

It is obvious that Nigeria is not capable of being a good steward of Ijawland. To continue to entrust Nigeria with the right to be the guardian of Ijawland is to commit political, environmental, and economic suicide. It is unnatural for any group to entrust the guardianship of its territory to an entity whose leaders are only driven by the desire to acquire wealth by any means possible. Nigeria does not regard the inhabitants of the Niger Delta has people who have rights.  Nigeria has no regard for the Niger Delta environment. In short, Nigeria has behaved as the British during the heydays of British colonialism in the 13 American colonies. When the British enacted the Intolerable Acts, the Americans reacted by saying that "There is no taxation without representation". Nigeria cannot account for the oil wealth that it has forcibly grabbed since the enactment of the Intolerable Acts, namely the Land Use decrees and the Pipeline Vandalization Acts. Nigeria is a country in which an ocean going vessel can literally disappear in the presence of the Nigeria Navy. President Obasanjo is not eager to prosecute those who ferreted away $170 billion during his presidency but he does not hesitate to unleash the military against those who have been suffering due to governmental mismanagement of resources.

After the declaration, go to court and file an injunction ordering Nigeria to stop claiming that it has an inalienable right to trample upon the Niger Delta.  If Nigerian courts are ineffective in doing so, seek counsel in US courts.  If that does not work, go to the United Nations.  Likewise, pursue or explore multiple diplomatic avenues in order to internationalize and maximize results of the struggle for economic rights and political respectability..

13.  An Ijaw Oil Company:  As soon as the Oil Charter is declared, an oil company should be established in Bayelsa State. This company will be responsible for monitoring, managing, and engaging in oil exploratory activities.It should serve as an economic and a social bridge to connect the Ijaw people with Nigeria, the oil companies, and their home countries. It will help to provide manpower training and development in the areas of management and technical know-how to Ijaw youths. This company should be able to compete for contracts and engage in shipping activities. If other oil-producing states wish to join the effort, then the company can be called the Niger Delta Oil Company of Nigeria. Otherwise, simply call it Ijaw International Oil Corporation.

14.  The United Nations:  If Nigeria continues to military occupy Ijawland and use very harsh military tactics against the people, they should go to the United Nations and seek protection against Nigeria. It is obvious that for a majority of Ijaw people, Nigeria has repeatedly demonstrated a desire not to protect them. The Niger Delta is dying environmentally, agriculturally, topographically (erosion and floods), economically, and medically. In this regard, the Ijaw organizations in the diaspora should work toward laying the foundation for establishing a Memorandum of Understanding between the Ijaws and the US, Britain, France, Japan Russia, and the United Nations.

15.  Asari Dokubo:  Although very destabilizing and militarily dangerous, Asari Dokubo's action appears to be a blessing in disguise. The reason being that it is now forcing Nigerians to discuss candidly their treatment of the Niger Delta. There is no body who can justify Nigeria's policies, attitude, and actions towards the Niger Delta.  How can the richest part of the country be the poorest?  Why is it that those who do not have oil in their backyards should be the ones making decisions about oil?  How is it possible that those who are not from the richest part of the country are the greatest beneficiaries of the oil wealth?  This is a moment that the Ijaws must seize upon to impress upon Nigeria that they will no longer tolerate the Land Use decrees anymore. 

Mr. Dokubo is not only an able Ijaw son, he is also diplomatic, hence, his flexibility and willingness to discuss the situation.  He should tell all about the secret deals that the high and mighty in Rivers State concocted in order to destabilize the indigenes.  God and the ancestors work in mysterious ways. The sudden emergence of Dokubo reminds one of the sudden appearance of Isaac Boro at critical moments in Ijaw history.

16.  Civil Action:  If it is proven that the politically high and mighty were responsible for sponsoring the violence that killed Chief Harry and Dikibo and victimized innocent people in Rivers State, a class action suit must be filed against the sponsors. In particular, the Okrika, Kalabari, Andonni, Abua/Odual, Ikwerre, and Ogoni people have suffered extensively. They should not hesitate to file civil suits claiming damages for the mayhem that state political authorities sponsored to victimize them. Let a legal ruling be made on the matter. For the Ijaws, the IYC should take the lead in filing charges.

17.  Dredging of the Niger River:  Ordinarily, it makes an economic sense to dredge the River Niger and make it possible for bigger vessels to ply the river and expand economic activities. However, strategically, it does make any sense for the Ijaws to allow the dredging of the river. The intended dredging is not directed at benefiting those groups inhabiting the Niger Delta. Secondly, it is a ploy for anyone to raise the argument that dredging the river would bring economic benefits to the Ijaws or others living in the delta. It should be recalled that the same reasons were advanced when the Kianji Dam was being constructed.  nstead of economic benefits, as was promised, the groups in the delta have suffered tremendous economic and agricultural losses. Thirdly, the dredging at this critical moment in Nigeria's history would simply open up the Niger Delta for much bigger naval vessels to move back and forth in the region. The Ijaws would make a very serious mistake to allow dredging to take place because it would enable their territory to be totally militarized. Right now, Nigeria is finding it difficult to penetrate the Niger Delta because of the shallow rivers and creeks.

Thus, apart from the environmental reasons for opposing dredging, the Ijaws should also make a demand that until the resource control issue is resolved, they will not allow any alteration of their territory. Let Nigeria dredge other portions of the river but not  Ijaw territory. After, all, more than any other ethnic group, the Ijaws have paid the highest price to make Nigeria come to fruition.  Unfortunately, Nigeria's leaders do not  appreciate the sacrifice.

18.   Mobilization of Resources:  The Ijaws must mobilize their resources. Youth groups should consult one another more frequently to acquire strategic and tactical skills. There is a need to lay the groundwork for an Ijaw Red Cross. This is critical in the event that villages and towns are destroyed through military bombardment, as had happened in Opinya, Okerenkeke, Odi, and recent incursions into Andonni, Okrika and Degema.  Those individuals and organizations that have connections to international humanitarian organizations should continue to do so in case medications are needed to treat the wounded.  

One could recall that during the civil war, many towns and villages had youth groups organized to enhance the protection of the communities. The time has come again for similar groups. The oil and regional struggle is going to be long.

19:  Ancestral Resources:   As stated in an earlier article, the Ijaws should not be afraid of utilizing the vast ancestral resources at their disposal.  These resources, when instituted accordingly, can contribute greatly to achieving goals and objectives. One could recall stories being told about a lake around Okoloba/Sabagreia/Oyobu  in Kolokuma clan. It is often said that the lake is sacred and is connected to the ancestors. Fishing on it can only be carried out when it is officially sanctioned to do so after prayers have been offered to the ancestors. It is said that anyone who secretly goes to fish in the lake when it has not been officially sanctioned would encounter a mishap or experience stomach ache for consuming a fish caught in it illegally. It is also said that when the lake is officially declared open for fishing, dangerous creatures such as crocodiles would not harm anyone. Likewise, in the same area, there is an ancestral deity, it is believed, that is capable of energizing anyone who is swimming and feeling exhausted. During the civil war, there was a persistent tale about some people in Okrika who were capable of remaining under water for some time. Tales have also been floated around the Nembe/Akassa area about an ancestral force that can rescue someone from shipwreck or drowning. At Odi, stories were speculated about an ancestral force that had opposed oil drilling activity.  As a result, whenever a drilling pipe was installed, it would bend. A similar story had been told about a site between Nembeland and Kalabariland in which an effort to drill for oil was frustrated. At Odi again, before the Ogori Uba Uge festival begins, the town is ritually closed and serious economic activity is banned. It is believed that after the ritual has been activated, any indigene of the town who tries to engage in serious economic activity during the festival could experience a mishap. Therefore, during the festival, the indigenes can only farm or fish or engage in any economic activity very lightly. 

These kinds of stories can be found in every clan.  They need to be verified and reinstituted. Thus, the Ijaws can use such processes to reduce intrusion into Ijawland if the Ijaws do not desire such visitations. Be proud of what you are.Be proud of what you have. Be proud that the colonial system did not destroy traditions laid down by the ancestors thousands of years ago.  Use them because the forces allayed against the Ijaws are massive and continuous. Do not allow yourself to be defined by others. Negotiate with your eyes open and think very deeply before acting. Traditions that have existed for thousands of years are far more reliable than newly emerging cultural practices that seem to be merely social fads.

This is indeed a period that requires profound diplomatic skills so that political traps and minefields set by political detractors can be avoided.   It is very easy for the Ijaw people to be embroiled in situations that can tear them apart. The strategy is to deflect the pressures that are coming from all angles as the scramble for oil goes on.   Therefore, the Ijaw National Congress and the Ijaw diasporic organizations must continue to represent the diplomatic face of the ethnic nation while the Ijaw Youth Council should continue to represent the activism of the nation. The elders should watch over the youths and the youths should watch over the elders. This is necessary to create a political counterbalance and thereby maximize efforts. In addition, Ijaw non-establishment leaders must watch over Ijaw elected public officials and the elected public officials should watch over the non-establishment leaders. The weakest link involves elected public officials who have not performed according to expectations, thereby, forcing the non-establishment leaders and the youths to come to the fore of the political struggle.

In a nutshell, the Ijaws should seize the present window of political and diplomatic opportunity to demand the following:

a.  100% resource control

During negotiations, this can be broken into either 40/60% or 50/50% sharing of revenue.

b.  The creation of another Ijaw state.

c.  The publication of the World Bank Report

d.  The return of looted wealth with 50% going back to the Niger Delta States.

e.  The abrogation of the Land Use Decrees.

f.  The declaration of an Oil Charter in which no oil company will do business in Ijawland without first negotiating with the community in which it wishes to do business.

g.  The establishment of an Ijaw Oil Corporation to manage petroleum activities

h.  No dredging of the Niger Delta until resource control and environmental issues are addressed.

i.  The withdrawal of military forces from the Niger Delta.

j.  The inclusion of the Niger Delta in the national budget and not just as merely a special area.

k.  The establishment of an environmental fund in which the federal Government and the oil companies would clean the Niger Delta.

Instead of each Ijaw group or faction clamoring for its pet project, putting out a total ethnic package of demands and action points is necessary to let Nigerian authorities and the international community become aware of the Niger Delta situation.  The CNN Africa Report on Saturday, October 1st, 2004, put a pictorial face on the extreme poverty that characterizes the Niger Delta, particularly Ijawland.

Petroluem is an international strategic asset due to its extensive influence on the worlds economy.  Use it as a diplomatic tool to achieve your goals. 



Agande, B. (2004, August 29).  $170 billion alleged alarms Obasanjo.  Vanguard. http://www.vanguardngr.com/articles/2002/nationalx/nr229082004.html. 8/30/04.

Amaize, E.  (2004, September24).  Ijaw threaten outbreak of hostilities in Warri.

_______, (2004, Septmeber 28).  Ijaw students faults calls for polls in Warri LGs.  Vanguard. http://www.vanguardngr.com/articles2002.niger_delta.nd428092004.html. 9/28/04.

Andor, D. & Okocha, C. (2004, September 17).  This Day News. http://www.thisdayonline.com/news/20040917news02.html. 9/17/04

Ighodaro, J. (2004, September 8).  IYC wades into Rivers crisis, contacts warlords.  Vanguard.  http://www.vanguardngr.com/articles/2002/niger_delta/nd308092004.html.  9/9/04.

Ighodaro, J. & Agande, B. (2004, September 24). Missing ship found in P-Harcourt  Naval chief alleges $.1m bribe, indicts serving minister.  Vanguard http://www.vanguardngr.com/articles/2002/cover/f324092004.html. 9/24/04. 

Ojeifo, S. (2004, September 17).  Bayelsa gov slams FG, oil firms for Niger Deltas woes.  Vanguard http://www.vanguardngr.com/articles/2002/nationalx/nr117092004.html.  9/17/04.

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.


Daily Independent (2004, July 27). Odili's men: an outside's account. Posted on Ijawnation@yahoogroups.com by Binaebi Benatari. 7/29/04.

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.

Strategic Factors and Options:  Defining Ijaw Goals and Objectives

Strategic Factors and Options: Opportunity for a New Beginning

Strategic Factors and Options:  Fighting Legal Fire with Fire

Strategic Factors and Options:  The Need for Skillful Diplomacy

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