The plight of the people of Bayelsa is just a carbon copy of the plight of Edos living in Gele-Gele, Ughoton, Ekewan, Urhonigbe areas, where oil drilling are being carried out. I have personally lost a fortune on my farm, where I grow Palm trees which have suffered great damage as a result of the oil pollution. I know how much millions of naira I have lost before I learnt you do not grow things in oil polluted areas. Imagine what the people in these areas whose livelihoods depend on the fertility of the land are going through. This is what our people have been crying for all along. To speak in the language of our fathers, oil drilling areas have become “Oto-nogbevbi”. The latter is a curse that Edo used to describe a barren and unfruitful area.
As atrocious as the killings of the 12 Policemen may sound, the action of the Federal Government declaring Bayelsa a State of Emergency and therefore sending in the military does not measure up to the destruction and deprivation the oil drillings in the Niger Delta have caused our people. Many of us here in the United States, free from the heat our people are feeling at home, forget that whatever benefit we enjoy here in the U.S. is a result of the blood and struggle of our African American brothers and sisters. I doubt if the legislators here ever voluntarily sat down to put into law the affirmative actions we all now enjoy, without the blood and struggle of our brothers and sisters here. As nothing good ever comes easily, so is the struggle for one’s freedom. Mr. Edevbie’s and other people from Niger Delta open letters to President Obasanjo are well applauded by people like me. However, I do agree with Edo Secretary-general Frank that too many comments and not well coordinated actions soon water down the effect of what we are trying to convey.
Sincerely, we ought to be fighting along side with the Ijaws, except that this later group has spent much time fighting her neighbors instead of working with them. Their uncoordinated and sometimes sporadic actions have made things difficult for other minorities. I have not spare words in expressing my displeasure to many of their leaders I know. This whole struggle for Niger Delta Nationalities Autonomy was started by the Ogonis, whose present leaders I believe are also trying to understand Ijaws solo actions. Their actions have led President Obasanjo to quickly set aside $50 million dollars to address their problems. I believe our areas also suffer the same as Bayelsa, except the Ijaws cry louder. President Obasanjo latest action of setting $50 million dollars aside for the people that cry loudest is going to backfire and further inflame the situation, if not carefully executed. Also, Ijaws acceptance of a separate deal to the exclusion of the Urhobos, Edos, Isokos, Itsekiris, Ikas, Ndokwas, Ogonis, Ikwerres, Ogbas, Akwa Ibom peoples, and Cross River peoples, and Ilajes, and other Niger Delta Minorities will be a betrayal of our common struggle.
Frankly, the crisis in Bayelsa does not warrant any State of Emergency. Why did General Obasanjo not declare the same State of Emergency in Kano, surround it with Southern Soldiers, shell Kano to the ground as they are doing in Odi and see what will happen. If Nigeria is to leave in harmony and move forward, the same measure should applied to every situation, whether Kano, Lagos, Modakeke-Ife, Bayelsa or Zamfara.