Do we desire a new Nigeria? Should we seek a new Nigeria? How can we achieve a new Nigeria? Is one of the paths to a new Nigeria through a resolution of the Niger Delta crisis? What are the root causes of the Niger Delta crisis?
What are the root cures to the crisis? Is the crisis related to other fiscal federalism crisis in Nigeria? How can Nigeria fulfil our desired national goals, objectives and motto as expressed on our Coat of Arms, National Anthem and National Pledge?
These are some of the questions that Patrick Ekpotu, current deputy governor of Akwa Ibom state set out to answer in his magnum opus published by the National Institute for Policy and Strategic Studies, kuru, titled “Towards a New Nigeria! Lifting the Peril: a root-cause resolution of the Niger Delta crisis.”
A convener of the Voice for Enduring Covenant on Global Peace (VOICECON International) and Civil Rule Advancement Works organization of Nigeria (CROWN), under which he has been advocating for a socio-cultural and socio-political change in Nigeria, Ekpotu, a graduate of Chemical/Petro-Chemical Engineering from the Rivers State University of Technology, Port Harcourt, former Commissioner in Akwa Ibom state, former Federal Commissioner of the National Assembly Services Commission, a fellow of the Nigerian Society of Engineers and a Rotary International Paul Harris Fellow, traces the roots of the current Niger Delta crisis to Nigeria’s pre-colonial times and sees the problem as post-dating Nigeria as a nation-state unless the root cures are sought out and carefully implemented, not only in the Niger Delta but in all communities that have a grouse with the national scheme of things through a deliberate and conscious policy by all.
A man who the new Bishop of the Catholic Diocese of Sokoto, Mathew Hassan Kukah has dubbed “a thinker who just happens to have become a politician”, patriot Ekpotu has provided in the words of Ray Ekpu “a new road map, a new paradigm of peace and development… and a helicopter view of the changing trajectory of the crisis” which “if left unchecked, can impose on all of us a cancerous future that is morally wounded even before it arrives…”
To avoid this future and avert the disaster that the Niger Delta “keg of gunpowder” has become with the murder of late Ken Saro Wiwa , according to Nelson Mandela, Lifting the Peril: a root cause resolution of the Niger Delta crisis; towards a new Nigeria published by the National Institute for Policy and Strategic Studies in 2009 prescribes that “we knock the sword of violence from the hands of our sons, brothers and fathers and henceforth disallow the terror they inspire to dominate our affairs and dictate the character of our political life.”
The “we” here obviously refers to the Niger Deltans who are called upon to see the crisis as “our own problem” as “our children are the ones growing up with the knowledge of how to kill one another, rob and rape, abduct and terrorize their society and; above all carry arms and halt development of the entire region”.
He warns that if the people of the Niger Delta do not “abolish the violence or lift the peril” that hangs over their region specifically and current Nigeria generally, they will never succeed in ending the Niger Delta crisis which will see the region perpetually devastated and the people eternally traumatized with absolutely no sympathy from either the other Nigerians, or the international community or the victims whose earlier sympathy for the profiteering militants and their warlords has been recognized to be misplaced.
To Ekpotu and NIPSS, as to elder statesmen Edwin Clark and Professor Tam David West, among others recognized as “voices from within” against the self-induced destruction of the Niger Delta people and region, “the level of insanity will be greatly reduced and the rule of law will truly supplant the rule of force” only by “bringing into being a way of life that requires each to surrender his weapon and turn his love towards the society instead.”
This way of life it is emphasized cannot be brought about by the police or other such organs but “by each person’s knowledge that a breakdown of the arrangement would be to no one’s advantage and would only push everyone back to doom.”
So, “abolition of violence first to prepare the way for safety” is the ultimate solution to which everybody must commit, led by the Niger Delta people and then the governments, the oil corporations, the international community and other interested stakeholders such as the human rights community and the environmentalist.
Apart from being the people bearing the brunt of the imperilment of the crisis which endangers both current and future generations of Niger Deltans and the region, the people, and all peoples, must realise that peace is the only atmosphere in which even the Niger Delta Development Master Plan of the Federal Government and the UNDP induced Niger Delta Human and Infrastructural Development seven point agenda can be executed.
Lifting the Peril, whose second purpose is to suggest ways that the federal government and leading Niger Deltans can ground Nigeria in the notion of a common good and make it possible for the region to subsume itself to the wider and greater claims of the overall good of society for the Nigerian state says that both the people and area of the Niger Delta need “reconstruction” as a result of this crisis.
Specifically Lifting the Peril: Towards a new Nigeria through a root-cause resolution of the Niger Delta crisis prescribes the following short and long term solutions. (1) Cutting the supply of arms and petro-dollars through effective naval warships barricade (2) Intelligence Infiltration in accordance with the principle of using diamond to cut diamond (3) Introduction of special anti-militancy laws thereby using legislation as a weapon (4)Enthroning a culture of love, patriotism, mutual respect through law and order, equity and justice.
The sometimes esoteric Lifting the Peril: Towards a new Nigeria through a root-cause resolution of the Niger Delta crisis achieves great and compelling reading through its 17 chapters and a postscript
Finally, the final word is that everyone concerned for a violence free Nigeria should make Lifting the Peril: Towards a new Nigeria (through) a root-cause resolution of the Niger Delta crisis a compulsive reading.