Continuation of last edition
Tompolo understands that hundreds of years of denial and dispossession of his people had terminally damaged any pretention in them to engage Government on the issues. And as a concerned stakeholder in his domain, brilliant and impatient for some sort of equilibrium economics, one cannot claim that his rhetoric is extravagant or out of place. His insistence that the Government and his people should take a hard critical look at their relationship was appropriate and really no different from what MASSOB is asking for in the South East, Afenifere in the South West, and Fulani Herdsmen allover Nigeria. It is not even a peculiarly Nigeria necessity, It was for example a major concern in the civil rights movement of America.
Exactly where are we, and how does one clarify contextually the different engagements of Tompolo that brought him to the apogee of a social institution? Importantly, and to take this essay beyond eulogies, I do not see how the movement he formed- the Movement for the Emancipation of the Niger Delta put him as a militant. The notion of a militant strikes a chord with a let off resurgence of activities weaponized as psychopathic. It presupposes an allotropic form of conventional military without cause and originating philosophies. To give away Tompolo’s patriotic impulse as merely militancy is to escalate the rhetoric. Yes indeed, ‘militancy’- The tentacular minority continue to use this word to justify their hold on the cheeses of capital of the imperiled majority and tend to define militancy as any act which appear to threaten the corpus of the Nation’s life.
It’s of course a strong word – militancy – self effacing, and tongue biting. It is designed to stop all arguments. Merely pronounce that a form of response is a threat to the illusionary banquet called corporate existence and the world is supposed to go into seizure from sheer surfeit. One can only marvel at what happened to this patrimony of ‘corporate existence’ when a Buhari, a Babangida or a Sanni Abacha terminated preceding corporate existence claims with a mere radio announcement accompanied by a martial tune. In this case however, today, militancy as a voluntary undertaking by an oppressed few, an operative stage in defining a nations being, as an expression of collective will, increasingly voiced even in hitherto unexpected sectors, is being derided. Its proponents are tragically typified and hounded as mere criminals. But as stated by Mokwugo Okoye in his prescient observation of the necessity of actions typified in the militancy clause said, ‘Militancy is nothing but an offensive truth which is supported by no stronger force than future hope.’ It is odd that the dubious legitimacy of a large percentage of representatives of the people’s supposed political will at the centre, at the federal and national assemblies and even in the lodges of executive governors, who rule by fraud and violence would seek to deplore the violent reactions of others as militancy. Some of these are the most vociferous, most assiduous in their denunciation, indeed demonization of the very notion of a genuine attempt by a people who wish to examine their present and decide their destinies- the very context in the patriotic reviews of the situation by Tompolo. to draw attention to the need for immediate remission to the circumstance and degrading human conditions of the people of the Niger Delta.
The truth of the Tompolo’s gravamen, in the minimum, is that he is opposed by a coalition of power with treachery who are homicidally focused against his rising profile and would do anything to nip it and as John Harrington mused long ago ‘ Treason doth never prosper and what’s the reason? For it does, non dare call it treason’.
Looking at the MEND structure which is a fillip to Tompolo’s brand of sophistication, you will discover that in the 90s, it was mainly used to showcase his grievances against the insensitivity of the government and the Multinational oil companies to the exploitation and degradation of the Niger Delta environment.
“I did not go to school, so anything concerning paper work, there are people who handle it. I am not the only person; there are others. If you are doing something, you have to put heads together with others because the idea is to cut across our nine states. That was how MEND was formed and that was the reason the last time that all of us went to Abuja, in the presence of everybody, I told them that I am the owner of MEND. It was formed in Camp 5. I said it in the presence of everybody and nobody can contest it with me,”
He was able to rein in other justice seeking elements from across the Niger Delta to Camp 5 to accord the struggle a definite name using the MEND platform. Besides, the new platform was used to immediately press for the release of some incarcerated sons of the Niger Delta by the federal government. So it was at Camp 5, Tompolo’s headquarters, that the Movement of the Emancipation of the Niger Delta, MEND, was formed. MEND was, however, not formed as an umbrella organization of all the justice seeking groups but as an organ to issue unified, rather than discordant, statements for them. This was the underlying philosophy of MEND- an initiative to place an anterior notice to the rather evasive, provocative, sterile and criminally naïve nonsequitor of the Government and oil prospecting Companies of the Niger Delta.
Tompolo known for his straight talk and highly taciturn disposition had once said that it is not an issue in dispute that he was the founder of MEND. “I did not go to school, so anything concerning paper work, there are people who handle it. I am not the only person; there are others. If you are doing something, you have to put heads together with others because the idea is to cut across our nine states. That was how MEND was formed and that was the reason the last time that all of us went to Abuja, in the presence of everybody, I told them that I am the owner of MEND. It was formed in Camp 5. I said it in the presence of everybody and nobody can contest it with me,”
To be continue…
Being a paper presented by Prof. Tosan Harriman at the 46th birthday Anniversary Lecture of High Chief Government Oweizide Ekpemupolo, Ibe Ebidouwei of Ijaw nation on Wednesday 12th April, 2017