By Mike Ebonugwo
OL-BOY, did you see the kind of weapons that these Niger Delta militants have been surrendering?â€ queried a parliamentarian, Pius Udeh, at Ikeja in a worried tone. â€œWhen I first saw the thing in the newspapers, I thought it was exaggeration until I also saw the thing on television.
Since they started responding to the amnesty term to surrender arms we have been seeing heavy-heavy guns and other sophisticated weapons. This clearly shows that these people(militants) have enough weapons to engage the Nigerian Army in a full scale war,â€ he said, shaking his head in disbelief.
â€œAh, no be small thing O,â€ responded a parliamentarian who gave his name as Humphrey Odeta. Continuing, he said: â€œI even suspect that itâ€™s not everything that they have surrended. Itâ€™s even possible that for every one weapon they surrender, there will be another 20 they are hiding somewhere.
They just surrendered those weapons to give the impression that they are complying with the amnesty order. But donâ€™t be deceived, those militants still have more weapons with them than they have declared or surrenderedâ€.
But as far as another parliamentarian, Tunde Ajibade was concerned: â€œThose militants are just bloody cowards. Going by the way they have been boasting I thought they are very tough. But I was surprised to see most of them rushing to beat the deadline for them to surrender their armsâ€.
He did not stop there.Â â€œAll of them that were doing gra-gra before suddenly started saying that they believe in peace and quickly surrendered to the extent that Tompolo they said was the Oga patapata among the militants was shedding tears and crying like small pikin.
If they truly believe in the cause they said they are fighting for and are committed to seeing that justice is done in their favour, they would not have surrendered their weapons like that in exchange for money. In fact, I suspect that they are more in interested in money than fighting for the development of their area. That is why they are lining up to surrender their weapons and collect money from the Federal Government,â€ he submitted with conviction.
But parliamentarian Dickson Ovie quickly faulted his argued, saying: â€œI donâ€™t understand what youâ€™re talking about. Are you not in this country when everybody was begging the militants to cooperate with the Federal Government for the amnesty programme to work. One thing you seem to forget is that these militants did not just agree to surrender their weapons; they only agreed to surrender after the Federal Government has promised to develop the Niger Delta.
And from what I heard, they gave the Federal Government time to do this otherwise they will pick up arms again and start fighting.
And itâ€™s not as if every militant group is cooperating. MEND, for instance, are yet to accept the amnesty deal and said they will not cooperate with the Federal Government until they see something concrete on the ground which proves that government is serious about developing Niger Deltaâ€.
Tunde, however, was not impressed by this explanation as he insisted that the militants and their leaders were motivated by pecuniary considerations in deciding to surrender their arms.