The call by Nigeria President Umaru Musa Yar'Adua for
international help to solve the military crisis in the restive oil- rich Niger
Delta is generating intense debate in Nigeria. He made the call at the margins
of the ongoing G8 summit in Japan. President Yar'Adua reportedly accused
international crude oil cartel smugglers of sponsoring militant activities in
the Niger Delta and called for an international clampdown. But his Nigerian
critics blamed his ruling People's Democratic Party (PDP) of arming the
militants in the Niger Delta region to intimidate other opposition parties during
last year's Nigeria elections. Chudi Chukwuani is a Nigerian economist. From
the capital, Abuja he tells reporter Peter Clottey that President YarAdua's
international call for help to resolve the ongoing crisis in the Niger Delta is
reaction here is that we are at a lost. The call is a clear failure on the part
of the government to properly secure our national asset, to protect our
sovereignty and our territorial waters. All of us know that the origin of the
so-called Niger Delta militancy started from political thuggery. Most of the
so-called militants were associates of the ruling party, and the ruling party
was using them, and arming them in order to fight opposition parties. If you
recall some years and months back, people like Dukubor (a militant) have
alleged that they were not properly settled after they had helped the PDP to
win the election. And in order to fight back they decided to go into kidnapping
and all sorts of extortionists measures," Chukwuani said.
He reiterated that the
ruling party should share the blame of the crisis in the Niger Delta region.
"The genesis of the whole
militancy actually arose from this political thuggery,
which was carried out by the major party, which is the PDP," he said.
said there are various options available to the government to resolve the
problems in the Niger Delta region.
"The solution is very clear
and direct, everybody can see it. What they need in the Niger Delta is shelter,
housing, the youth need to be gainfully employed and be productive. So, all
these things are things that can be provided by a government that is well
focused that has a well-defined objective and that has the will to implement
the social responsibilities to the society," Chukwuani noted.
He said previous talks at
finding ways to resolve the problems in the Niger Delta region have not yielded
any positive results.
"We've been in these talking
workshops for a very long time. Obasanjo (Nigeria's former president) went
through his own rounds of workshops, but at the end of the eight years he could
not point to one single primary school anywhere in the Niger Delta that he
built. So, you find out that we have had a series of governments both past and
present who believe in talk shops instead of actually going up to the field and
implementing social programs," he said.
Chukwuani said the ruling
party could help end the crisis in the Niger Delta region by stopping financial
and political support to the rebel groups who are allegedly causing problems in
(President Yar'Adua) is the leader of the PDP, we can agree with him that if
they stop funding political thuggery using the militants as a political thug in
order to fight opponents that is one major way of stopping the Niger Delta
militancy because most of the weapons that they are talking about were weapons
that were bought by politicians and given to the youth to use against their
political opponents. So, if they as a political party have decided to put a
stop to that, then that goes a long way in trying to curtail militancy in the
Niger Delta," Chukwuani pointed out.