Friday, October 01, 2010


In life, one is never truly satisfied with one's station. One always strives for better position, greater recognition, more respect. Part-timers want to be full-timers, Assistant Directors want to be Directors, Vice Presidents want to be Presidents, and on it goes. Naturally, in the struggle for upward mobility and dominance, people are prepared to do whatever it takes to achieve their aims, and this drive isn't limited to honest endeavor, as the events today have shown.

The Movement for the Emancipation of the Niger Delta or MEND as they prefer to be known, apparently tired of being called a 'militant group' decided today to go for the much more prestigious position of 'terrorist organisation' and passed their audition with flying colours. The detonation of two bombs during the 50th Independence Day celebrations in Abuja, for which MEND has claimed responsibility, claimed 8 or 10 lives (depending on your source) and left around 21 people injured.

MEND has operated for years under the cover of taking up arms to liberate the Niger Delta from the oppresive Federal Government which has done virtually nothing to develop the area from which comes the vast bulk of our national wealth. For a while, they had me fooled. I felt that the sad state of affairs in the Niger Delta, coupled with the chronic deafness of the FG to the legitimate concerns of the citizenry, the rise of MEND as an outlet for years of pent-up frustration was not only inevitable, but welcomed. I thought it would only be a matter of time before they forced the government to take action on the environmental devastation of the region by multinational oil companies. How wrong I was!

For starters, Asari Dokubo, the self-styled 'mujahedin' leader of MEND was no more than thug who had been closely associated with Peter Odili and played a pivotal role in seeing to it that the 2003 elections produced the 'right' result for Odili and his PDP cronies. It was only a falling out between these two hyenas that led Dokubo to 'discover' the plight of his oppressed people and take up arms on their behalf. Never mind that by rigging elections, he had deprived them of any say in how they were to be ruled.

When the kidnapping of expatriates oil workers began, I expected these Niger Delta 'Robin Hoods' to begin using the ransoms acquired to provide their people with the amenities denied them by the government. I expected to see schools built, roads paved, water provided, hospitals equipped. I expected to see these things as they would shame the FG and perhaps force it to act. This never happened. Instead, the money went on mansions and fancy cars. And, of course, more weapons. Soon, I recognised MEND for what it was - a criminal outfit piggy-backing on the legitimate anger of a region.

What they have done today is beyond any defending. Any residual sympathy people may have had for them is now gone, extinguished as certainly as they extinguished the lives of innocent men and women today. I agree that in 50 years, Nigeria has achieved precisely sweet fuck all. I agree that rolling out drums to celebrate what is no more than 50 years of inertia, corruption and thuggery, is an assault on the sensibilities of any right thinking person. However, I cannot agree with what they have done today.

MEND did not target some government installation. They targeted innocent people, bystanders. People doing their best to get by in a country where everything is dependent on who and not what you know. MEND murdered innocent people today. MEND murdered every last shred of credibility it could possibly have had and along with it, they could well have murdered the legitimate aspirations of the very people they claim to represent.

They have finally given the FG the opportunity to use that time-honored movie line:

"We will not negotiate with terrorists."

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I love my country, enjoy a cold beer once in a while, rabidly support Arsenal FC, but I don't get Diet Coke...