May 16, 2013
by Abimbola Adelakun
The last-standing vociferous Niger Delta militant, Alhaji Mujaheed Asari Dokubo, recently addressed a press conference. The entire drivel of his speech was saddening on several levels. Dokubo started by describing Fulanis as interlopers “who migrated and invaded our land from Fouta Djallon” and fail to “show respect for the owners of the country.” He added some other small-minded spiel not quite worth repeating. It makes me wonder, in 2013, who prattles like this? Who are not the owners of the country? Historically and anthropologically considered, which people are not migrants? Whose ancestors grew up organically from the soil of Nigeria? All humans have been migrants at one point or the other.
But those cheap shots are not what were unfortunate about the whole affair.
Let me state upfront that I had some measure of respect for Dokubo. My regard for him was planked on his immaculate honesty: He is one of the tribe of “activist” rabble-rousers who doesn’t hide that he is agitating for a meal. In Nigeria’s austere clime, it has become amoral to take up forms of gangsterism and make a lot of noise until your bread is buttered. (It only becomes immoral when you hide your beggarly lingo under the garb of activism and social crusade). In Dokubo’s case, he has turned into an election consultant who advocates President Goodluck Jonathan’s re-election for all the wrong reasons.
Just last December, Dokubo was criticising Jonathan for squandering the goodwill invested in him by the citizens of Nigeria. In that newspaper report, he had harsh words for the President’s spokesman, Reuben Abati, too. In January, he granted an interview to National Mirror where he, specifically, admitted that his angst was because food had been taken from his mouth (his paraphrased words). Five short months later, he is vehemently supporting the President! It does not take many brain cells to conclude that the feeding bottle has been pushed into his mouth, again. He is now a nationalist of unquestionable zeal, barracking all opposition. We have seen his types before and, God knows, the uncouth manners can be exasperating.
Nowadays, when the likes of Dokubo, Annkio Briggs, Kingsley Kuku and other Niger Delta “activists” insist Aso Rock will not be vacant in 2015, they do not articulate beyond the maudlin fact that other presidents — from other regions of Nigeria — spent two terms and one of their “sons” must do same too. That is the sole lame leg on which their logic rests. The country must stand behind their tribal flag, swallow the bitter pills of ill-governance, poor vision and monumental corruption, simply because the country feeds off the Niger Delta oil. But come to think of it, considering the poverty rate and the poor economic situation, are Nigerians really benefitting from “our oil” to justify a second term for Jonathan? The endless rant about “our oil” quietly evades this question and instead yells that their “son” has to be good enough for Nigeria if “our oil” is good enough to sustain the economy. The rest of us, they insist, are parasites that contribute nothing to Nigeria except for our animal presence and the many problems of it.
The trio of the conquistadors and other ethnic jingoists are one of the reasons I get weary of our nation and even the African continent. In terms of technological output and scientific advancement, we are at the lowest rung of the ladder. Rather than invest in education and technology, we spend all our lives killing and maiming over natural resource. We cannot even advance the use of the resources beyond what the Oyinbo man told us.
With all the sense of propriety latent in their rhetoric of “our oil”, what did anyone’s ancestors do to deposit the oil in the ground? Until the Oyinbo man told us the oil had economic value, what did the black man know about it? And what have we done for ourselves with “our oil” other than the mindless corruption that has been ongoing for decades? Dokubo and co might have earned the right to call the rest of Nigeria “parasites” but if they reflected deeply, they would find that they freeload on nature’s goodwill as anyone else.
As things stand presently, we are thoroughly messed up as a people and sometimes it appears it is too late to lament our comprehensive emptiness. The very least we can do is to tell these 2015 consultants to cease fire, go back to the drawing board, re-strategise and fire some smart shots. They should tell a better tale other than insisting we live with whatever odium foisted on us because it came from the Niger Delta. For a start, can this trio bring out the 2011 campaign promises and check what has been achieved?
So far, Aso Rock has pretended it didn’t send these foot soldiers on any errand to us but we have lived long enough in Nigeria to know the voice of Jacob even when the hairy hand says Esau. There is nothing new happening here, they are merely deploying the same boring approach that was used by the late Gen Sani Abacha in the not too distant past. The new addition to the script is that while Dokubo tries to portray the Fulanis as enemies of Nigeria, he makes his candidate seem like one who needs somebody to take over his remote control.
And finally, the rant of the trio should teach the rest of Nigeria about our national and institutional shortsightedness. Dokubo and others are justified when they holler all day about “our oil” because, all said and done, the resource is on their land. Those of us whose ancestors did not settle on oil-rich land should start thinking of how to wean ourselves off the Niger Delta breast otherwise, we will forever be held to ransom. We will be harassed, blackmailed and morally harangued into accepting any defective product as long as it comes from the Niger Delta.
The likes of Prof. Ango Abdullahi who boast that Jonathan will not get a second term, that a northerner must occupy Aso Rock come 2015, should face up to the question of what percentage of resources their region contributes to Nigeria. (Seriously, what makes him so conceited?) They had better start looking ahead in case tomorrow comes, when there will be no more easy money to make Aso Rock so alluring.