Emmanuel Onwubiko: Niger Delta Affairs, corruption affairs

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These days if you watch the global news channels, the likelihood is very high that you would hear and see proofs that the Amazon Rainforest in Brazil is depleting at an alarming rate no doubt.

However, much of The World’s political and media powers are on this matter.

The clamour and advocacy campaigns for the protection and conservation of the natural environment of the Amazon rainforest have intensified and have added some frenetic flavour and impetus since the advent of the CORONAVIRUS PANDEMIC IN the World.

Look at what some scientists wrote about the Amazon rainforest: “Not only does the Amazon encompass the single largest remaining tropical rainforest in the world, it also houses at least 10% of the world’s known biodiversity, including endemic and endangered flora and fauna, and its river accounts for 15-16% of the world’s total river discharge into the oceans. The Amazon River flows for more than 6,600 km, and with its hundreds of tributaries and streams contains the largest number of freshwater fish species in the world”(wwf.panda.org).

Like the Amazon rainforest that is strategic to the survival of the World’s ecosystem, the Niger Delta Region is one place that virtually 98% of the Nigerian crude oil reserves and the foreign sources revenues largely comes from there but sadly, that place is the most marginalised section of Nigeria.

We may not therefore be exaggerating if we say here in Nigeria is another resource rich region that can be compared to the Amazon rainforest known as the Niger Delta Oil Producing communities in the Southern axis of Nigeria.

This Axis of Oil mineral resources has been turned into Axis of corruption by political office holder in Abuja and the nine states that make up the region.

The Niger Delta Development Commission (NDDC) that was created by previous federal government to address the crises of infrastructures’ deficits afflicting these crude oil producing States in the Niger Delta Region has since become the bastion of filthy lucre and outright theft of public funds meant to advance and develop that massively neglected and marginalized region and the population making up that region.

When it became so clear that the NDDC couldn’t play her roles thoroughly to evolve developmental blueprints and carry through with the implementation due to bureaucratic bottlenecks and corruption, the then Umar Yaradua’s federal administration set up the Ministry for Niger Delta Affairs. But this ministry for Niger Delta Affairs as it were has caught the corruption VIRUS of the most virulent species.

However, both the Federal Ministry of Niger Delta affairs and the Niger Delta Development Commission have since become cesspool of corruption and money laundering by politicians.

The governors of the State of Niger Delta Oil Producing States are some of the worst predatory thieves that have ever been seen anywhere in the World followed by those of the North whereby 80% of the kids are out of school.

The current minister of Niger Delta Affairs and the management team at the much abused Niger Delta Development Commission are battling grave allegations of corruption.

For Godswill Akpabio, it has been one corruption accusations or the other even as he has therefore had little or no time to carry out the much needed task of developing the Niger Delta Region which is his own home where he had previously governed Akwa Ibom state for eight years but not without allegation of heist of public fund which President Muhammadu Buhari is underplaying and treating as a family affairs since Akpabio who was made relevant by the then dominant Peoples Democratic party, left his political party to join the All Progressives Congress which awarded him the cabinet level appointment.

The heavy stench of massive scale of corruption in the political agencies that ought to develop Niger Delta is disturbing.

The entire political elites in Nigeria are using the Niger Delta Region as the football pitch for phenomenal corruption even as the people of that crude oil producing States have become some of the most impoverished communities anywhere in the Country.

These issues were exactly what gave rise to militancy and armed struggles that culminated in the setting up of the Niger Delta Amnesty Programme that was set up by the Umaru Musa Yaradua/Goodluck Jonathan administrations and has been sustained by the current government.

The only strong deficiency of the Niger Delta Amnesty Programmed was that it was meant to train local manpower and human resources from these crude oil producing States so these trained and skillful locals would be given opportunities to be employed in the crude oil servicing companies and the publicly owned Nigerian National Petroleum corporation but it was not to be because the same bureaucratic bottlenecks and Financial Crimes associated with most government businesses was brought to bear in the administration of that Niger Delta Amnesty Programmer.

Ghosts trainees were lined up and only very few real persons from that region benefited whereas billions of public fund were siphoned by the officials running that Amnesty Programme. Amnesty Programme for the Niger Delta then became the cash cow for some rogue elite from that same region. What a pathetic irony!
So for the purposes of hypothesis, let me ask that so if at this age and time that petroleum is still a hot cake globally that the people of the Niger Delta Region aren’t benefiting holistically from the returns and revenues accruing there from, is it when petrol becomes economically non viable with the evolution of Green Economy and electronic vehicles that these neglected communities and people can get justice for those grand scale misapplication of their God given resources and the wanton demolition of their Ecosystem and farming opportunities? Do we really have consciences or do we have hearts of stones to watch as these strategic agencies that ought to develop the marginalised Niger Delta Crude oil producing States are turned into contraptions for cash bonanza?

We need to punish all those thieves stealing the resources of Niger Delta Region to avoid the disasters that will be unleashed the moments the true patriots of Niger Delta become mobilised and organised to demand for answers for these cocktails of theft of their resources. President Muhammadu Buhari if you profess love for these suffering region and people of Niger Delta Region then sack the entire officials of Niger Delta Ministry and NDDC and prosecute those indicted for corruption including the rogue contractors who had collected huge mobilization money running into Billions of dollars and developed wings and flew away.

These thieving wings must be clipped for Nigeria to experience peace or else there will be no peace for the wicked.

*Emmanuel Onwubiko is the Head of the Human Rights Writers Association of Nigeria; he blogs @ www.huriwanigeria.com www.emmanuelonwubiko.com www.thenigerianinsidernews.com www.huriwa.blogpot.com

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