THE DAWN OF A NEW ERA
My fellow freedom fighters, and the great people of the Niger Delta region both in Nigeria and diaspora I greet you all!
The time has come for the “Pen revolution; we will fight with the pen and continue our struggle for freedom non-violently, because this great revolution was never our fault, but of the government”.
Let it be known this day that fight for our freedom has again been born in this month and in this year 2013 after enduring 99 years of slavery.
We the good people of the Niger Delta say no to TRIBALISM, NEPOTISM, MARGINALISTION, EXPLOITATIONS, CORRUPTION, BRIBERY, POVERTY, GENOCIDE, POOR EDUCATION, POOR HEALTH CARE, ENVIRONMENTAL POLLUTION AND DEGRADATION OF OUR LAND, EXTRA JUDICIAL KILLINGS, OIL THEFT, INSURGENCY, ETHNIC CONFLICTS, RELIGIOUS DESCRIMINATIONS.
We must ask ourselves the question ~ What is our benefit in remaining in Nigeria, a country that was not created by God; but by an imperial power for its own purpose. ? In other words – God in His infinite wisdom created each of the ethnic groups, and put each of us in its own place. A colonial power for its own benefit forced us into one ‘country’ and left. There is nothing common among us except that we were slaves of the same master.
Allow us to repeat what we have been saying – Other countries in Africa are also created by the European colonial system, but while the average different ethnic groups in each African country is only 40, Nigeria, The Congo and the Sudan has each more than 200. The Congo has no religious problem; but Nigeria and Sudan are cursed with religion conflicts ; and both are engaged in never ending bloody conflict of North and South. That we in Nigeria were slaves of a common master that has left us is not enough to keep us in the same country. Why do we have to stay together when the slave master has left us ? Dr. Datti Ahmed, a Northern Islamic scholar touched on this point in respect of the North and the South and wrote in THE NEWS magazine of 15th.
My fellow Niger Deltans both home and in diaspora, yes the time has come to leave a mark in the sands of time, our voices must be heard, we cannot continue to be marginalised tagged as minority and wallow in poverty or run away from our land to the west, south or the north instead we have the duty of building a better Republic with better standard of living.
If we live the land like this, or run away from our challenges do we expect our elderly parents, or veterans who fought for our early independence and are not properly taken care of as compared to modern world to fight again? I bet you all that our children, grand children, great grand children might not have better education, health or a sound environment and when they ask you why, tell them you ran away or you were to scared to be prosecuted for the truth and your freedom.
Words from a great man and remains in the history books of the United States of America:
“It is in vain, sir, to extenuate the matter. Gentlemen may cry, “Peace! Peace!” — but there is no peace. The war is actually begun! The next gale that sweeps from the north will bring to our ears the clash of resounding arms! Our brethren are already in the field! Why stand we here idle? What is it that gentlemen wish? What would they have? Is life so dear, or peace so sweet, as to be purchased at the price of chains and slavery? Forbid it, Almighty God! I know not what course others may take; but as for me, give me liberty, or give me death! ~ Patrick Henry – March 23, 1775.
Support this cause wholeheartedly with deep concern because a demand has been brought upon us which is the “Pen Revolution of the Niger Delta”, spread the news of our victimisation to our mothers, fathers, brother and sisters. If the need be open them Facebook accounts and let their voices be heard too, that way I assure you will surely leave a mark because the pen struggle has just begun.
As planned when the time for our peaceful protest comes, it would be observed by the International world and bodies as letters are been drafted to countries around the world, the EU, UN, OPEC and all world organisations supporting diplomacy, peace, human right abuse, environmental and ecological degradation. We must not allow our creative protest to degenerate into physical violence. Again and again we must rise to the majestic heights of meeting physical force with soul force. The marvelous new militancy which has engulfed the Northern community must not lead us to distrust all of the Northern people, for many of the Northerners, as evidenced by most of their comments, have come to realize that their destiny is tied up with our destiny and their freedom is inextricably bound to our freedom. We cannot walk alone.
We must realise that the international community does not look into what is considered ‘domestic problems’ such as resource control, true federation and such like. They are internal matters. Like in olden time, even today, no one is interested to know what a master does to his slaves. Many are only interested if the slave struggles to be free. It’s also like husband and wife that are always fighting . It’s much easier for the court to adjudicate if either seeks divorce or separation. Not even the International Court will assume jurisdiction on what may amount to internal matters such as demand for resource control or true federation. In Yugoslavia the international community went to help because some of the ethnic communities declared separation.
We must refrain from giving the impression that we are not acting wisely. Fortunately we are miles wiser than our oppressors. And we have justice on our side. Everyone will help us when we seriously demand separation.
In the true revolutionary, the first quality is the power to endure. Constancy, loyalty to cause and comrades, manhood and stability of nature. And for that reason we carry within us the destiny of The Republic of Niger Delta. We care not whether we win tomorrow morning or at the end of a lifetime of labour and of struggle. For to us the little calculations of the little men mean nothing. All we care is that win we will because The Republic of Niger Delta demands it and no power on earth can hold down the will within us.
Our fight is for the soul, and in that battle we go forward together till victory be won. Our struggle is hard, because we are fighting for something great, and great things are not lightly or easily gained. We are fighting for nothing less than a revolution in the spirit of our people. We must be worthy of our mission, for Niger Delta Republic Movement are those who are summoned to lead the people to a new and a higher civilization. Tribalism was the only way in which foreigners got their chance of dividing our people. We must forever conduct our struggle on the high plane of dignity and discipline.
“A non-violent revolution is not a program of seizure of power. It is a program of transformation of relationships, ending in a peaceful transfer of power”. ~ Mohandas K. Gandhi, 1948.
We are at the end of an era, and not only here in Nigeria. No matter what is hoped or said to the contrary, the form of mixed economy we have known, in which we were raised, and under which we have suffered, is being defeated all over the world. The monopolies are being overthrown; collective science is coring new and important triumphs daily. In the Americas we have heard the dreams of Martin Luther King come true, The Middle east, Africa and Asia. Such a profound social change demands equally profound changes in the mental structure of the people.
We the Niger Deltans have been on the news of so many countries and also our endowed resources have helped built some of the developed world economy, so our issues merit little introduction. In one sense the issues are a mesh of imposed imperial colonialism, tribalism, corruption, politics, trade and resource exploitation. All these work to gravely undermine the rights of people in terms of the exploitation of their natural environment.
Trade has remained the major precursor of destruction in the Niger Delta. We can go right back to trade practices where highly valuable goods were exchanged for bottles of whiskey, beads and mirrors, or to the days during which the Niger Delta lost human resources through the slave trade. Before the advent of the crude oil trade in the Niger Delta, we have it on record that on 22 February 1895 the trading city, Brass, located here, was attacked and leveled by British naval forces at the behest of the Royal Niger Company to ensure that the company had a monopoly over the palm oil trade for which the town was famous. Over 2,000 persons, mostly women and children, lost their lives in that attack.
As at now “The Niger Delta is the treasure base of Nigeria”, since successive governments have decided to ignore other sustainable income sources that had sustained the nation as far back as both the 18th and 19th centuries; before the discovery of oil in commercial quantities in the country. Today, by official count, oil contributes about 95% of the country’s foreign exchange earnings from a production of more than 2.2 million barrels of crude per day. An additional chunk is extracted illegally into private and corporate pockets through crude oil bunkering. These all lead to the milking of the Niger Delta to the point of near death and wildlife extinction. We suffer a dearth of social amenities, high unemployment, environmental degradation, and other social malaise.
Oil corporations such as Shell, Chevron, Agip and ExxonMobil who are major players in the Niger Delta, have admitted to contributing to corruption and violence/civil unrest in the Niger Delta. In Shell’s Peace and Security report (published in 2003) as well as Chevron’s double page ads in Nigerian newspapers in May 2005, the corporations admit that by their actions they have contributed to the state of conflict, corruption and distortion in both the Niger Delta environment and by extension the Nigerian state.
According to the Shell report: “Annual casualties from fighting already place the Niger Delta in the ‘high intensity conflict’ category (over 1,000 fatalities a year), alongside more known cases such as Chechnya and Colombia. The criminalisation and political economy of conflicts in the region mean that the basis for escalated, protracted and entrenched violence is rapidly being established. This not only threatens SCIN’s (Shell Companies in Nigeria) future ability to operate, but also Nigerian national security.”
In modern day times, it has been said that since Shell arrived in the Niger Delta it has been a tale of desolation. Much of the activities in the Niger Delta with regard to crude oil and its exploitation are shrouded in rights abuses and massive pollution and contamination of the land, as the world came to learn from the struggles some of our great sons in the like of Jasper Adaka Boro, Ken Saro-Wiwa and the Ogoni people and the subsequent hanging of Saro-Wiwa. According to Chinua Achebe “There Was a Country”.
On the record there have always been unending stories of horrors coming out of the Niger Delta. Oil spills and pipeline fires are regular features and official estimates are that there are at least 300 incidents each year. Clean up exercises are spade and shovel events. They are often capped off by the setting of remaining crude oil on fire. This way forests and even rivers have been set ablaze. These crude oil spills poison the land, pollute water bodies and expose the people to untold hardship.
“If we wish to be free — if we mean to preserve inviolate those inestimable privileges for which we have been so long contending — if we mean not basely to abandon the noble struggle in which we have been so long engaged, and which we have pledged ourselves never to abandon until the glorious object of our contest shall be obtained, we must fight! I repeat it, sir, we must fight! An appeal to arms and to the God of Hosts is all that is left us”! ~ Patrick Henry, 1775
And another reason that I’m happy to live in this period is that we have been forced to a point where we’re going to have to grapple with the problems that men have been trying to grapple with through history, but the demands didn’t force them to do it. Survival demands that we grapple with them. Men, for years now, have been talking about war and peace. But now, no longer can they just talk about it. It is no longer a choice between violence and nonviolence in this world; it’s nonviolence or nonexistence. ~ Martin Luther King
Niger Delta people are traditionally farmers and fishermen and women so their ecological terrain was damaged by the oil companies who just come down to exploit oil but nothing is being done to take care of the environment. The Nigerian government don’t care they only collaborate with the oil companies.”
We asked why successive Nigerian governments since 1960, regardless of party or military, have kept the people of the Niger Delta marginalised and impoverished.
“The life of a single human being is worth a million times more than all the property of the richest man on earth… Far more important than a good remuneration is the pride of serving one’s neighbour. Much more definitive and much more lasting than all the gold that one can accumulate is the gratitude of a people”. ~ Che Guevara, 1960
Nigeria was an artificially created state by the British imperialist colonialists for their own benefit. After they granted independence in 1960 the people of the Niger Delta were not willing to join the Nigerian state but…unfortunately for us the ruling class, mostly the Islamic north, they practice an indirect rule and feudalism they don’t want to listen to the plight of the Niger Delta people and we have tried all avenues…They think the people are inferior and without any rights. They think the all-mighty god, or Allah, gave them the right to enslave us. It is like what happened in the Sudan but today The Republic of South Sudan is free…We are being called ‘kaffirs’, that is ‘unbelievers’, by the Muslim brothers. We are Africans but we are not saying Africa should be united as one master and the other slaves – we don’t want that sort of system to exist in this modern era…We are still crying of slavery, our women are being raped, the environmental pollution. It’s appalling. We can’t accept it anymore.”
We are still pleading with western world, America, eastern Europe and Africa that this country called Nigeria was created by the colonial imperialist – Britain – and they never consulted the Africans before they just bunched us together like sardines and created the place and called it Nigeria. We are not really one country we are different nationalities. Nigeria is like a commonwealth of nations. Nigeria is not a nation per se. It was artificially created and the area that is ruling the country today don’t recognise the people of the Niger Delta for fighting for self-determination.”
”I have a dream today.
I have a dream that one day every valley shall be exalted, every hill and mountain shall be made low, the rough places will be made plain, and the crooked places will be made straight, and the glory of the Lord shall be revealed, and all flesh shall see it together.
This is our hope. This is the faith with which I return to the South. With this faith we will be able to hew out of the mountain of despair a stone of hope. With this faith we will be able to transform the jangling discords of our nation into a beautiful symphony of brotherhood. With this faith we will be able to work together, to pray together, to struggle together, to go to jail together, to stand up for freedom together, knowing that we will be free one day.
This will be the day when all of God’s children will be able to sing with a new meaning, “My country, ’tis of thee, sweet land of liberty, of thee I sing. Land where my fathers died, land of the pilgrim’s pride, from every mountainside, let freedom ring.” ~ Martin Luther King, 1963
We asked which was bigger – those wanting independence or those just wanting a bigger say over resources within the Nigerian nation-state. “It is not just the people of the Niger Delta that want independence. Since the early 1960s the Igbos, our neighbours, wanted to secede from the Nigerian government and there was a war and the federal government gained the upper hand and the Igbos were defeated. But those things that caused the war are still there so the Igbos are still agitating for independence from the federal Nigerian government…In Africa any time any nationality say they want independence or self-determination the government of the day use the big stick, they use weapons, the gun, to silence those asking for independence. And the colonialist west that created these states, in the case of Nigeria, the present government is doing their bidding so they are like puppets. They still allow the multinationals to control the wealth of the nation and it is a corrupt-based economy where the government don’t give a damn.
“It’s known all over the world that previous Nigerian leaders have stashed away money, billions of dollars in the western banks. The security apparatus of the west know about it but they are only concerned with the ‘terrorist’ war. The African governments are now telling the western world that the people who are fighting for self-determination are terrorists.”
Nigeria paid off its debts to the Paris club and the World Bank through the oil revenues so would the federal government be prepared to see the Niger Delta secede? “Oil is not the only resource Nigeria has. Nigeria produces different minerals but today it is just the oil. Israel they don’t produce oil but Israel is a very powerful country. So if today the Niger Delta gets independence it doesn’t mean the rest of Nigeria is going to crumble. They should look inward. We in the Niger Delta we are not depending only on oil.”
In the case of the Niger Delta we don’t have an enemy. We are not fighting an enemy we are only fighting a cause. The Europeans created these artificial states and the Africans don’t know how to resolve conflicts. They don’t know how to agree to agree or disagree. In most of their conflicts they want to use force where they keep on fighting and killing themselves. They don’t know how to go into a round table and resolve these issues amicably. The Niger Delta people are peace-loving people.”
The foreigners who carry on business amidst us, do so because they have permission from our masters. They are innocent of our struggles. If they behave badly and support our oppressors, then we must cry out very thunderously to the world.
We know the way the Nigerian army operates. They go and kill innocent people, bomb their houses, rape their women…The military which tyrannized our country was supported by the most reactionary elements of the nation, and, above all, by the foreign interests that dominated the economy of our country. Everybody knows, and we understand that even the Government of the United States admits it, that that was the type of government favoured by the monopolies. Why? Because by the use of force it was possible to check the demands of the people; by the use of force it was possible to suppress strikes for improvement of living standards; by the use of force it was possible to crush all movements on the part of the peasants to own the land they worked; by the use of force it was possible to curb the greatest and most deeply felt aspirations of the nation.
This will be the only Godly solution to the problems created by the colonial system. If peacefully applied , the separation will be like that of Czechoslovakia, instead of Yugoslavia where the different ethnic groups fought to death before they eventually separated.. In Yugoslavia they did not exploit one section for the benefit of the others; and they did not have Revenue Allocation . So none of them gained much benefit for the deaths they all inflicted upon one another. But in Nigeria, those that are being exploited will gain after a fight ; but others would have suffered death for nothing; as eventually justice will prevail; and the Niger Delta will enjoy the right of controlling their God given land and resources. But peaceful separation will benefit every ethnic group. There is no way the North can for ever prevent a determined South , or even a determined Niger Delta from separating on the long run. Only self seeking and corrupt politicians will ignore this fact because they want to use the country.
So our goal is independence and if we have our independence we will still live peacefully with Nigeria and we will trade with them. If they don’t want to trade with us, fair enough!
When we let freedom ring, when we let it ring from every village and every hamlet, from every state and every city, we will be able to speed up that day when all of God’s children, black men and white men, Jews and Gentiles, Protestants and Catholics, will be able to join hands and sing in the words of the old Negro spiritual, “Free at last! free at last! thank God Almighty, we are free at last!” ~ Patrick Henry, 1775.
FINALLY: Let this be the continuation of a renewed struggle and first struggle we will be engaged in. The slave trade which we suffered from was ended by European Christian abolitionists. The colonial system which began in our area as much as Nigeria is concerned, ended with a “Platter of Gold” in a way that deceived us. Now we must fight to end the North’s domination. It is they who created the past military tyrants, and they will create more unless we separate.
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Long Live the people of the Niger Delta and May Almighty God help us.