Tuesday, 6 October 2009

Editorial: Amnesty, MEND And The Need For Further Dialogue

The amnesty proclaimed for the repentant militants in the Niger Delta region of Nigeria on 6th August, 2009 ended on October 4th, 2009. It is on record that the exercise recorded considerable success with well known militants and less known ones embracing it, with the consequent surrender of  armaments of different categories. chidi opara reports wishes to use this medium to congratulate all concerned on the success of the amnesty.

It needs repeating here even at the risk of over emphasis that the unrest in the Niger Delta region where the greater percentage of the Nation's oil wealth is located, which happens to be the mainstay of the country's economy, took much toll on the well being of the citizenry, therefore a peaceful resolution of the crisis should be seen as a vital forward step in improving the quality of living of the citizens of Nigeria.

chidi opara reports have however, noted a cog, which if not removed, may truncate the relative peace that have been achieved so far and send the Nation back to the days of crisis. This cog is the refusal of the Nigerian government to engage the Movement For The Emancipation Of Niger Delta(MEND) in dialogue through its recently appointed negotiators. MEND may be faceless, but its control of fighters in the creeks which manifested in its ability to call these fighters in and out of "oil wars" makes it a force to be recognised in the present peace process.

It may be argued that the surrender of its commanders with their weapons have rendered MEND impotent, but need we state here that majority of the fighters who may have been trained in the use of sophisticated weaponry may not have surrendered?, most may have simply dissolved into the civil society and can be re-recruited for future "oil wars". Need we mention also that weapons can be purchased at any time in any place and smuggled into the country through our porous borders, seaports and airports manned by corrupt and incompetent security?.

The most worrisome angle is that MEND may recruit the ever available mercenaries from any of Nigeria's neighbours and use them to unleash guerrilla hits on strategic oil and gas facilities, making nonesense of the main aim of the amnesty.

chidi opara reports strongly recommends that the Nigerian government should engage MEND in dialogue through its negotiators whom we think are Nigerians who have achieved success in their careers and whose love for the country may not be doubted.