No one seems to be able to answer Yes or No but effective midnight 23 September 2007, a group called the Movement for the Emancipation of the Niger Delta (MEND) had 'declared war on the Nigerian state'.
In the light of what is happening presently in the Niger Delta region, with all the posturings, claims and counter claims emanating from the region and the vituperations of the major actors in this debacle, I feel compelled to ask the question again: Is Nigeria at war?
If the answer is Yes, who are the parties in this war? Nigeria and who? MEND?
If it is MEND, does MEND have the mandate of the people of the Nigeria Delta to prosecute a war on their behalf?
If the answer to this were Yes, and we agree that "a civil war is a violent conflict within a country fought by organized groups that aim to take power at the center or in a region, or to change government policies ... and that one side of a civil war is the state.", then this would be a civil war, right?
According to Wikipedia "Scholars of war divide theories on the causes of civil war into either Greed vs Grievance. Roughly stated:
- Are conflicts caused by who people are, (defined in terms of ethnicity, religion or other social affiliation) or
- Do conflicts begin because it is in the economic best interests of individuals and groups to start them?
If the answer to this were No, then who or what is MEND and what are they fighting for? As Alhaji Asari Dokubo stated in a 2007 interview 'MEND was created not as an organisation but a name for the purpose of issuing unified statements'.
If you are interested, there are several insightful academic works here and here on the Internet detailing the emergence and raison d'etre for MEND. Some even detail how to effectively combat it here.
One thing is obvious though, Yar Adua and his government do not have a clue as to how to handle this unfortunate situation. The latest misadventure by the government's Joint Task Force was an ingenious PR coup executed by MEND and one wonders how much more unthinking a government could be to fall for such an obvious trap.
What if we were really at war?
Unfortunately ..[t]here does not seem to be an easy solution to disrupting MEND or solving the problem of Niger Delta as whole. However the work was not entirely futile as we discovered that the government is a common denominator in each strategy – in a negative way.Conceptualizing And Countering The MEND
The government or regime seems to be the biggest obstacle to successful counter strategy. The regime in petro-state could be imagined as an entity which floats over the society but has no links to it and is almost only concerned with revenues from oil extracting which puts it [at] odds with people of Niger Delta who in majority feel deprived from what they see as their right – oil revenues.
I was surprised to find such a detailed study on MEND on the internet. It even recommends different strategies to counter MEND and its activities in the delta. Instructively, the study does not endorse a military solution in its conclusions.
This is like an open book examination. Does it mean that NOBODY in the Nigerian government reads or what?