By Ebele Orakpo
“I swear wahala dey. No money, no food, no light, no water,” lamented Julie, a passenger in the CMS-bound commuter vehicle. “A derica cup of rice is now N250 up from N150; small paint bucket of garri is N650, tomato nko? No go area. God please we need your intervention before we perish oo.”
Replied Rose: “We are complaining of hardship in the land and that food is so expensive now? We haven’t seen anything yet. With the rampaging Fulani militia going about with AK-47 rifles, sacking villages, killing and maiming people and destroying farmlands, the Mother of all Hunger is coming. Farmers who have not been sacked from their villages are afraid to go to the farms for fear of herdsmen and their cattle.”
“Hmm, it is true. We will realise the extent of the damage done to our food supply by the herdsmen/farmers crises at harvest time when there will be nothing to harvest. Na that time we go know say khaki no be leather. Have you noticed that people are more aggressive now? They are hungry and angry,” said Julie.
“It’s one day, one trouble in today’s Nigeria. When will all these end?” asked Dom. Continuing he said: “From Boko Haram, to Islamic fundamentalists beheading an unarmed woman, to kidnappers, to IPOB and now, Niger-Delta Avengers. President Buhari is just so unfortunate. I pity the guy. Indeed, uneasy lies the head that wears the crown!”
Said Rose: “But he brought it upon himself with his divisive tendencies. If I were the man, immediately I won election, I would have called together all those who lost in the primaries and those in the opposition and pleaded with them to join me to make Nigeria great again. But no, he did the exact opposite. First, with his famous 97% and 5% quote, his cutting down the Amnesty allocation and promising to stop it in 2018, revoking the pipeline protection contracts and trying to stop the Maritime University. Again, little or nothing has been done to criminal Fulani militia while full force is deployed against peaceful demonstrators and cattle rustlers are killed and cows rescued. So what do you expect?”
“But what is wrong with the Niger-Delta Avengers? I see them as a group of self-seeking individuals pretending to fight for the Niger-Delta people just as Asari Dokubo, Tompolo and the rest had done before them,” stated Dotun.
“Exactly my thoughts! They are polluting their already polluted environment the more by blowing up oil facilities. It doesn’t make sense,” said Dom.
Replied Rose: “That is the only way government will pay attention to them. Look at their grievances and see how to deal with the grievances instead of the force being used. It has been tried before and it did not work.”
“I think they should face their leaders and state governments who have been collecting 13% derivation apart from other allocations. All those would have been enough to develop the place,” argued Dotun.
“Of course they had done so in the past but since government and oil companies disburse monies to certain individuals without involving the grassroots, they will continue to suffer these interruptions. What stops them from calling Town Hall meetings in each community, find out what they need and employ people to carry out the projects? Does China give cash to borrowers? No! You tell them how much you want to borrow and what it is to be used for. They mobilize their experts and local people to carry out the project while they pay as the work progresses. So why won’t the government and oil companies adopt the same strategy? I am sure they share a percentage of whatever cash they give those corrupt community leaders and that is why they have continued to toe the same line,” said Rose.
“It is not too late to retrace his steps and be a father to all. The best way forward for Nigeria now is restructuring. Let the states control their resources and pay tax to the centre. There is so much injustice in the present structure,” said Uche.