Wednesday, May 27, 2009

Words Of War

'Is Nigeria at war?'

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.[2]", 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:
  1. Are conflicts caused by who people are, (defined in terms of ethnicity, religion or other social affiliation) or
  2. Do conflicts begin because it is in the economic best interests of individuals and groups to start them?
Scholarly analysis supports the conclusion that economic and structural factors are more important than those of identity in predicting occurrences of civil war."

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?

UPDATE
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.

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.
Conceptualizing And Countering The MEND

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?

13 comments:

chayoma said...

There is so much going on in our country right now, you have to wonder whether the govt. is asleep or not present at all!

this topic is not one to be brushed aside...

Kafo said...

on sunday
msnbc said that nigeria was in chaos
so i call my dad in lagos and he is like
what are you talking about
it is just the oil people


so honestly I DON'T KNOW

i love the way u reasoned it all out

Jobs For Nigeria said...

Well, its really sad. I guess all we can do is to pray for the best cos right now i think its just GOd that can save us

Omo Oba said...

I also dont believe that the military is the answer altho several Nigerians whom I respect dont agree with me. MEND started out as an organization i thot very highly of but now, they have taken things a little too far but is violence against poor civilians the answer?

N.I.M.M.O said...

@chayoma: there really is so much going on you wonder if this government is overwhelmed. I'm sure nobody told YarAdua it was gonna be like this but now he's taken the job, he's probably regretting not retiring to his farm in Katsina.

Its one thing to be behind the event, its another to be completely oblivious. This government is the latter.

Thanx for your comments.

@Kafo: Since the activities of MEND in the Niger Delta affect the price of gas in Texas then Nigeria is in chaos. But then, is Nigeria not in chaos with all the fuel queues and all. We just have a thick skin in this country. Many thanx for your comments.

N.I.M.M.O said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
N.I.M.M.O said...

@Jobs: Wisdom says: Heaven Helps Those Who Help Themselves. Many thanx for your comments.

@OmoOba: Many intel reports including the one quoted in the post proffer possible solutions but none recommend the military option. Its crass ignorance that makes some of our countrymen believe that the military - any military- can solve the MEND problem and the larger Niger Delta question.

Those who know say that the latest move by MEND was a classical trap laid for the JTF. Its perhaps the oldest trick in the book and they fell for it. Its laughable to say the least.

Is it not strange that JTF has not captured one single 'militant' nor seized any meaningful cache of ammunition? Forget those shakabulas (dane guns) they show us on TV. We know MEND is better armed than that.

N.I.M.M.O said...

@ALL: Rather than sit in the dust lamenting the problem, we would rather proffer possible solutions.

Resolving the Niger Delta question will take much more than just politicking which this government and previous governments have been doing. The peoples of the Niger Delta have been pawns in the game for too too long.

The biggest rouges are the self styled Niger Delta 'leaders-of-thought' who lunch in Abuja shouting 'Rankadede Oga you are doing well' and sup at night in the creeks of Gbaramatu shouting 'Keep fighting boys, we are winning!'

From the First Republic Minister to the Vice President, the people of the Delta have been deceived for too long by those they trust to lead them.

But who do they turn to? MEND?

Right now, even MEND has become part of the problems of the Niger Delta. The more MEND entrenches itself, the more difficult it will be to resolve the knot.

It will take sincerity - a very scarce commodity in the Delta - on all parts to begin to solve the problem.

Artsville said...

In an attempt to profer a solution, I would say let's keep writing about it hopefully it could affect some decision making but on the other hand, what if no one in govt. reads as you asked?

webround said...

i think (i could be wrong though) the reason why the military are involved is that the govt does not want to give the impression that you can be lawless and get away with it, something like when the US says they don't negotiate with terrorists. they may be trying a strategy of using both the stick and the carrot.

SOLOMONSYDELLE said...

This military approach to MEND will not solve anything. It will only further militarize the region, the issues and the people.

There are non-violent solutions which are yet to be applied because the players are benefiting from this chaos. Illegal bunkering, those who monopolize diesel supply benefit from lack of electricity supply, those who control the status quo benefit from the fact that the majority of Nigerians are dirt poor, uneducated and those that are more fortunate suffer from naija-wahala fatigue and avoid politics at every cost.

Do our 'leaders' read? Well National Assembly members get money for "newspapers" but we all know where that money goes. We, the individuals, need to become powerful and quickly, so we can work together to force positive change peacefully. If not, we will be having this very same conversation 10-20 years from now.

Great post, N.I.M.M.O. Maybe someone in the government will read this, eh?

SOLOMONSYDELLE said...

Just checking in for an update. Hope all is well with you and yours.

N.I.M.M.O said...

@Solomonsydelle: I'm good o. Just been busy with life.

A new post coming up right away!\

Many thanx.

Recent Comments