Sunday, June 19, 2011

Mend: Suggestions to peace

Business Day
17 June 2011

Onyebuchi Onyegbule    .
The Movement for the Emancipation of the Niger-Delta (MEND) has threatened to return to violence any moment from now. Among the overt reasons given for this twist is a no-action on gas-flaring and no-ease with oil-spillage, both a threat to life and sustained by bribes. This time, it's not Shell that's playing the monster but the Italian oil firm, ENI Group which it accused of engaging in a massive oil theft in return for a robust arming of the Nigerian military which according to it, carries out scorched-earth operations in the region- something like the bombing of villages with a high risk of civilian casualties.

These issues have been on right from the beginning of the struggle and have provided the tarmac for the progress made so far. So their eloquent pronouncement is a curious paradox.

The real reason for MEND's grudge can be found in alienation and mistrust- both offshoots of the amnesty project.  It's possible that a section of the militant group was not carried along enough in the unfolding of the project or that it nursed unrealistic expectations of what the program was about.

As Vice President, Goodluck Jonathan visited Henry Okah in South Africa in 2007 to solicit his support and cooperation for peace in the Niger-Delta prior to the planned amnesty program. It was well intended but tactically wrong. ...

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