WHAT happened in Warri on Monday is condemnable. That it could happen is despicable. Its implications are by far more reproachable.

Months of efforts invested in deepening the amnesty programme the Federal Government commenced in the Niger Delta last October evaporated with the explosion of two bombs the Movement for the Emancipation of the Niger Delta, MEND, claimed it planted in the vicinity of Vanguard’s post amnesty conference.

What did MEND intend to achieve?  How does MEND expect its demands would be met without dialogues? How does this incident improve the chances of peace in the Niger Delta? What are MEND’s alternatives to talks and dialogues on the Niger Delta?

There are some points in the position that there have been too many meetings on the situation in the Niger Delta.  The struggle in the Niger Delta suffered for years from the confusion, conflicts, intrigues against the region. Those intrigues have not finished, some even speculate some defenders of the region have not fully understood the subterfuge.

It is true that the Willinks Commission report of 1958 had predicted the trouble that is currently sweeping through the Niger Delta. It is also true that nothing serious was done about addressing these issues until the initiatives of the past few years. It has taken 52 years to get to where the issues are clearer.

Events like the one MEND bombs disrupted would have provided another platform to keep the matter in focus, and in this instance, evaluate the progress that has been made with a specific programme, the amnesty.

MEND said it had a point to make. It chose to make the point when it could get the best attention, with the global focus on a gathering that was bound to make far reaching decisions on the course of our national history.

Vanguard agrees that the pace of the re_construction of the Niger Delta could be faster. Vanguard thinks amnesty has brought new issues to the fore. One of those issues is the post-amnesty life for former militants, most of who have no other life than the life of unstrained liberties they erected for themselves in the creeks.

These means of livelihood of these militants has ceased. They are not members of the regular society and their background still excludes them from life in main stream society.   They require more than amnesty to get more out of life.

If the attitude of MEND and similar organisations is to foreclose dialogues, there is the risk that little progress would be made over longer time.

The foreclosure of talks means everyone would act independently. Even with the best intentions, talks cannot be excluded from methods of resolving matters of the Niger Delta.

MEND should mend its way for the peace process to be continued in the Niger Delta.


Comments expressed here do not reflect the opinions of vanguard newspapers or any employee thereof.