Who are Niger Delta militants fighting for?

The group, Niger Delta Avengers, made global headlines after it blew up a Chevron platform in the region on Wednesday, May 4, 2016.

Ex-militant Asari Dokubo

The group made global headlines after it blew up a Chevron platform in the region on Wednesday, May 4, 2016.

“This is what we promised the Nigeria government since they refuse to listen to us,” the group said after the incident.

“It’s Okan offshore facility in the Western Niger Delta region was breached by unknown persons. The facility is currently shut-in and we are assessing the situation, and have deployed resources to respond to a resulting spill,” Chevron said in a statement confirming the attack.

The NDA also claims to have carried out attacks on pipelines transporting crude oil to the Warri and Kaduna refineries and also on a Shell oil pipeline, which shut down the 250,000 barrel-a-day Forcados export terminal.

The recent attacks come despite President Muhammadu Buhari’s threat to deal with the militants like he dealt with Boko Haram.

“I am aware that in the last two weeks, the national grid collapsed a number of times. I hope this message will reach the vandals and saboteurs who are blowing up pipelines and installations. We will deal with them the way we dealt with Boko Haram,” Buhari said during a meeting with the Nigerian community in China in April.

The Niger Delta militancy has been a major battle for Nigeria, but it was temporarily won by the creation of the Amnesty Initiative. Through the initiative, ex-militants were rehabilitated and placed on allowances while some were sent to study abroad all in a bid to secure the tentative peace.

The former militants got a sweet deal from the government, but what exactly was their struggle about? The militants claimed to be fighting against the marginalization of their people, but have their actions changed the lot of the average Niger Deltan? Do the militants even care about the masses?

To answer this question, one needs only to take a look at two of the prominent ex-militants in the country, Government “Tompolo” Ekpemupolo and Mujahid Asari-Dokubo.

Both men have amassed great wealth due to their militancy, but how has it helped the people for whom they claimed to be fighting? Have they created any industries? Jobs? Facilities? Why did Asari-Dokubo build his empire in Benin Republic instead of the Niger Delta?

What about all the former militants who have been educated and fed off Nigerian money? How have they contributed to the development of the Niger Delta? How have they earned the Amnesty? Were they simply being paid to keep the peace?

At the heart of the Niger Delta militancy are several valid grievances caused by years of injustice, but the problem with most freedom fighters in Nigeria is that they are only trying to set themselves free, as Tompolo and Asari-Dokubo have done.

The Niger Delta Avengers have only selfish interests at heart and the Nigerian government must deal with them decisively and quickly to avoid strengthening the notion that violence is the quickest way to wealth in Nigeria. The fate of our nation depends on it.

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