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The NDDC hearings expose the ugly underbelly of the resource control war in Nigeria

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By Dr. Johnson Greg

The Niger Delta people can now know who has been stealing their oil wealth. It is their own brothers, not necessarily the Hausa Fulani government officials and politicians as has been widely assumed.

Min. Of Niger Delta: Sen. Godswil Akpabio

The fight for resource control now seems to have been a dubious agenda by which the Niger Delta elites planned to steal more of their peoples wealth. They got the money meant for the development of the oil producing communities ravaged by environmental consequences of aggressive and primitive exploitation of oil and gas in their lands. These elites stole every penny of that money and left their people with nothing.

Over the years, the Niger Delta elites blackmailed Nigeria, threatened violence and provoked militancy. The more they asked, the more the country gave them and the more they stole. And then the more they blackmailed the country and the more they abandoned their poor. These and many more are being exposed ironically in a quarrel among the thieves over how to share the loot.

But there is s greater lesson than is obvious. What Nigerians are discovering through these hearings questions most fundamental assumptions of Nigerians. Each community and each ethnic group believes that its problems are coming from outside. Niger Delta people often point to outsiders as the source of their problems. The Igbos point to non-Igbos as the source of their problems. As a result, each group agitates for self-determination and independence from the rest of Nigeria. Incidentally, if the agitators for the restoration of Biafra were to have their way, Niger Delta territories are within the areas they claim to be Biafra. So, the drama we see today in NDDC would have been a Biafran drama.

Acting NDDC Chairman: Prof K. Pondei

This also shows that the Niger Delta elites would never have supported the Biafran agitation. They are very comfortable with the current state of things that allows them to steal their people blind and blackmail the country at will. Those who are comfortable with the state of things are the least likely to want a change. The only change the Niger Delta elites would have wanted was the kind of change that would help them to steal more.

Another important question arising from all this is how Nigerians are to view Buhari’s war against corruption henceforth. This indicates that rather than fighting corruption, Buhari’s administration has actually promoted corruption, like his predecessors, through indifference and incompetence. There should be a moment of candid humility in which the government should own up to its failures. That will be important for it to ever regain the trust of the people in any claim that it can fight corruption in Nigeria.

And finally, Buhari should embark on small and big measures to try to contain the crisis and formulate a remedy. For a start, the President should fire Mr. Akpabio with immediate effect and dissolve the board of NDDC and prosecute those involved in this massive looting of the commonwealth of the Niger Delta people. A lot more will be needed, unfortunately.

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