Dialogue is a known age long method of conflict resolution. Its efficacy in resolving crisis is not in doubt hence the typical call for dialogue in addressing crisis. Dialogue in this sense means a discussion between two or more persons or parties at finding solution to a crisis situation. Closely related to dialogue is negotiation. Negotiation is a mutual discussion and arrangement of the terms on which a peace deal is agreed and sustained. Negotiation creates a win-win situation between Parties in crisis as substantive conditions for peace are achieved by each Party.
Taking a snapshot at the history of the Niger Delta struggle and timeline on dialogue and negotiation, provides one with an obnoxious memory of Government failed promises, the continued inducement of Agitators with some sort of financial gratification and political favour, the ill-conceived and implementation of the fire brigade Amnesty Programme of the Government, Agitators turned Politicians and Contractors consequently forgetting the pertinent issues of marginalization and injustice raised by Isaac Adaka Boro, Ken Saro-wiwa and Dappa Biriye and the Political Class leveraging on the agitations and Agitators to further their political ambitions culminating in the emergence of Dr. Goodluck Jonathan as vice President and later an eventful six year presidency and the subsequent short-comings in addressing the injustice and ameliorating the suffering of the People. Though, I do not expect him to completely turn back the hand of the clock in a system of weak and lopsided democratic institutions neither do I expect of him to annihilate the already weak institutions to favour a section of the country as presently being demonstrated by the present administration. In a fair rating, GEJ did his best regards to the prevailing circumstances at that time.
However, the failure of key actors from the Region (Governors, Ministers, Special Advisers Royal Fathers, and Agitators etc) to sincerely and smartly leverage on Jonathan’s presidency to correct some of these ills is obvious and still hurts.
Today we are confronted with another dialogue euphoria sequel to the emergence of the Niger Delta Avengers. The same virtuous cycle is about playing out for the reason that most Political Actors, Agitators and uninformed sons of the Region view dialogue and negotiation as a very lucrative avenue to get some sort of financial gratification, cheap popularity, pipeline contract and recognition from the Government and IOCs.
This is the intent behind the emergence of several groups ranging from Bakassi Strike Force, Niger Delta Volunteers, Sea Strike Force, to the resurgent MEND and its Aaron team 2. What is clear about the emergence of these groups is that key Political Actors and some Ex-militant Leaders still want to claim relevance before the Government so as to share in its luggage. It also gives credence to the narrative that APC stalwarts of Niger Delta origin are poised to hijack the dialogue and negotiation process to corner some political favour and gains from President Buhari whom they view as not giving the Region APC’s block due consideration in his political and board appointments at the same time frustrating the Government’s move in engaging true Stakeholders like the Royal Fathers, Community Leaders and Tompolo, whom in my objective submission, obviously have earn the confidence of the youths and key Stakeholders of the Region but have been malign and unfortunately painted as an arch enemy of the Government.
In this season of dialogue euphoria, our political elites, ex- militant Leaders appear to have sealed their conscience, darkened their sense of reasoning, and abandoned the yearnings of our People and the call to addressing the remote causes of the recurrent upsurge in the Niger Delta because of their prospective political and financial gains.
If a Government organized and managed dialogue process did not achieve it intended aim with Isaac Boro, Dappa Biriye, and Ken Saro-Wiwa and failed to address issues militating against the Region. If such dialogue also failed to address the issues raised by the Tompolos, Dokubos and Martyrs of the Niger Delta struggle, but rather engendered disunity among Agitators and Ethnic Nationalities in the Region.
Why do you think this modus will work now? It seems our dialogue euphoric Leaders have not yet realized that they have yielded themselves as tools to the hegemonic forces who do not believe in the restructuring of Nigeria to reflect the aspiration and dreams of her constitute Ethnic Nationalities but only believe in the concept of one Nigeria at the expense of others.
My candid advise to our dialogue euphoric Leaders is to put a stop to their selfish political adventures that do not in any sense have the capacity to improving the existential condition of the People they claimed to represent and renege on their move of shielding the Government from key Stakeholders and pull him down at all cost syndrome aimed at Tompolo as he is pertinent to the peace equation of the Region because of his efforts at peace building in recent years. Irrespective of party affiliations and interest you should take your “lessons from the locust” (Proverbs 30:27).
Conclusively, a dialogue aimed at addressing the perennial years of injustice against the People of the Niger Delta Region must first bear the emblem of sincerity and political will on the part of the Government, and dedication, trustworthiness and honesty on the part of our Leaders, and transparency on the part of Representatives of the International Organizations. Such dialogue would include the UN, EU, AU, ECOWAS and other renowned International Organizations whose input may be needful. Resolutions and agreement made between the Parties (Niger Delta People and the Federal Government) should be documented as reviewable GMOU and White Paper that must be implemented at a stipulated time of 10-15 years and it implementation process is to be monitored by the aforementioned organizations.
I hereby call on our Leaders, Political Elites, Agitators to wake up and tell the Government and the world the truth, nothing less, but the truth as another round of selfish and political negotiations in a dialogue euphoric environment is tantamount to prolonging the days of comfort for our People.
Ubebe E. Fred,
Member, Impact Leadership Academy (ILA),
Writes from Oporoza