IN all the cases we haveÂ Â examined or mentioned there seemed to be a necessity to protest or act, at least in the hearts of the protesters and actors. The Irish Republican Army felt there was need to deploy arms and abduct civilians to harry off the British Imperialist from Irish lands. Al Fattah and Hamas deploying different levels of violence, all fought to achieve one central goal: the independence of Palestine and the liberation of all Palestinian land from occupation and the occupying Israelis.
The world must come to accept that every necessity to protest must find expressive ventilation. In so far as men continue to undermine the welfare and interests of other men, there would be protest. The world, for the records, does not abhor protest; it only abhors the kind of protest that itself births another necessity to protest. Men would act, must act to change untoward circumstances. According to Peter Ustinov:
â€œThose who refuse to act when faced with adversity, deserve the circumstance in which they find themselves.â€
Again, though individual states and countries may outlaw violent protest, International Law and the comity of nations recognise that violence may be deployed by oppressed peoples to free themselves.
But we must note that International Law forbids genocide, rape, the deliberate killing of non-combatants and of course, kidnapping, in war situations. In other words, there are unacceptable rules of engagement in the conveyance or communication of oneâ€™s grievance to the oppressor or the community of witnesses.
Let us here make the point that it is not in all circumstances that the protester is permitted the luxury of a choice of the mode or medium of his protest, that is whether to deploy violence or non-violence to protestÂ an unjust situation. The world celebrates Nelson Mandela today notwithstanding that as the leader and commander of Umkhomto We Sizwe, the military wing of Apartheid era ANC, he ordered the bombing of public facilities and refused to denounce violence until his release from prison. Men have argued from time immemorial in favour and against the use of violence as a tool of protest. We have the fortune today not to delve into so complex a subject. Permit me to say however that whether or not men choose to protest violently, they have an obligation to humanity to convey their protest within the norms and rules of engagement.
Kidnapping & Violence in the Niger-Delta
We have identified that militancy in the Niger-Delta is the immediate precursor of kidnapping in Nigeria. Were there circumstances to protest? Was there necessity for protest?
In 1960 Nigeria was handed an independence constitution by the British but in 1963, Nigeria fashioned out her own Republican constitution. In recognition of the diversity of the multi-ethnic nationalities that constituted sovereign Nigeria, in pursuance of the recommendations of the Henry Willinks (Minorities) Commission and to assuage the fears of the lesser populated tribes, the 1963 Constitution was a federal one in which all the regions had 100% control over the resources within their domains.
This was a good arrangement and it fitted nicely into the pattern set by the very example Nigeria adopted, the federalism of the United States of America.
Then Nigeria experienced the crises of 1966. The first was attributed to political bickering and corruption; the second of course, was carried out for vendetta. Nobody claimed that the federal constitution was unworkable but in 1969, the Supreme Military Council abrogated the derivation principle enshrined in the 1963 Constitution and promulgated the Oil Mineral Resources Act, the Petroleum Act and other appropriation Acts that touched on other forms of mineral resources in Nigeria, to give the theft of the Niger-Deltaâ€™s oil and gas the toga of the casualty of sweeping and generalised legislation.
The Niger-Delta people felt injured because till date, government only makes a show of exploiting the mineral resources of the other regions while the Niger-Delta has been plundered, excavated and excoriated for its oil and gas deposits. Note that apart from seizing the rights that inhere in them in relation to mineral resources found in their domain, the people of the region have had to endure the hardship brought on by negligent exploration and exploitation activities of oil and gas companies in the region.
The oil workers act with insouciance; they exploit the social hardships endured by the natives by buying and hiring sex in as much the same manner as boats and gloves. Men, women and children are dying daily from over-exposure to the heat waves of flared gas and the pollutions of negligent oil exploration. The seizure of 1969 was ostensibly to have sufficient resources to prosecute the civil war. The war ended and in 1975, Gen. Yakubu Gowon, the original appropriator was removed from office by a palace coup. His successors, some of whom were principal actors and privy to the 1969 act, continued to retain rights that inhered in component states.
(To be continued next week)
The oil politics of Nigeria is as aggravating as it is comical. The Babangida government magnanimously gave back 4% of revenue accruing to oil sales and in the present 1999 constitution the figure was increased to 13%.
Ladies and gentle men, is it not an incongruity to the property belonging to people and give them a share that you theÂ usurperÂ is comfortable with; Let us look at it differently. The national government of any country is the representation of all the interests in the polity. They are brought together to manage the aspects of that nationâ€™s life that exist at the will of the people they represent. Is it just or right for these legatees to assume rights not granted by the legators or to exercise authorities not invested by the people.