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North can’t survive without N’Delta: When leaders begin to argue like drunks

By: Chris Onyishi
 Published February 24th, 2011

At fifty years of nationhood and over eleven years of “uninterrupted” democracy, it still looks as if Nigerian rulers or establishment people have not come to terms with civilized politicking. When I went through statements credited to the Federal Minister of Information and Communications, Mr. Labaran Maku, as published in the Wednesday February 23, 2011 web edition of The Sun newspapers, I asked myself a question:  Is there, particularly, anything wrong with the people of developing countries when once they ascend to power?

There utterances, body language, reasoning, rationalization of issues, etc gets inverted as soon as they hold public office.  They loose every single sense of decorum.  They loose every single sense of history. They become irresponsible and insensitive in their actions and utterances.

Hear him: “If you go to Niger Delta today, they cannot fish because their rivers are polluted; they cannot go to farm because their environment is polluted. Now they have suffered this pollution and are contributing more than 90 per cent to national income.
The salaries you pay to your primary schools teacher and civil servants in Kogi are from Niger Delta. The salaries that are paid all over the North; in all our schools, our teachers, our civil servants, our traditional rulers, our community leaders are from Niger Delta, so why must we kill the hen that lay the golden egg?...

Why is it so difficult for us in the North to understand that this Niger Delta that has been making these sacrifices for this country, they have the right also to rule Nigeria like any of us and especially the North which has ruled this country for many years…

When that regime collapsed in the coup of 1966, they identified with General Yakubu Gowon. They didn’t go with Biafra, they went with General Gowon who was from the North-central to fight for one Nigeria and that denied Biafra access to the sea, which made it possible for Nigeria to win the war.” 

The above is an excerpt from statements credited to Mr. Labaran Maku: Nigeria’s Minister for Information and Communications as published in the “The Sun” newspapers media chat with him.

What is the relationship between the presidential campaign and all these scraps by the Honorable Minister?  What has supporting President Jonathan or not supporting him got to do with killing the hen that lays the golden egg?

This goes a long way to revealing the mentality and intelligence of the people who are imposed over us as public functionaries.

An intelligent and informed presidential campaign should be discussing and enlightening the electorate on the manifestoes of the party and not make inflammatory statements.  It should duel on issues and sound logics - on how to lift Nigerians – of all ethnicity and culture – out of the doldrums which the likes of Maku has put it in - and not coercion.

Hoisting the notion that the Niger Deltas are maltreated is not, to say the list, a sound electioneering manifesto.   What is the guarantee that President Goodluck Jonathan’s administration will make any difference?  What about the eight months he has steered the affairs of this country?  What significant changes have come to Niger Delta?  The very people who are behind President Jonathan are those who have ruled this country for years without any significant considerations to the plight of the Deltans.  It was during the rule of Gen. Obasanjo that the town of Odi was destroyed and yet he is one figure seen to be propping President Jonathan. Mr. Fix it was responsible for roads in which he gulped down over four hundred billion (N400 billion) naira in the past and yet no reasonable road was constructed within the deltas.

In my opinion, the plight of the Deltans – as well as all other impoverished and deprived Nigerians – should be laid in the doorsteps of the political class, which Mr. Maku is one of them, and not on the North or South.  The over 85% impoverished Nigerians cut across the breadth and width of Nigeria: North, South, East and West. 

When Maku enthused that North cannot survive without the Niger Delta, he was only exuding his ignorance as it relates to the mineral deposits in this country.  As a Minister of Information, he should have realized that he is using the resources of Nigeria and not that of PDP and that he should make statements that will tend to enlist the free support of Nigerian electorates and not intimidation.

 He should have realized that PDP is not the only party in Nigeria.  He should have also realized that PDP has ruled Nigeria in this democracy for over eleven years.  He should have realized that PDD – on whose platform President Jonathan is asking the electorate for their votes – rather than the North – has brought the pains to the Deltans and to the rest of Nigeria.  He should realize that his party PDP is still populated with the same people who will determine how President Jonathan will rule if he emerges the President of this country.

So when next time he opens his mouth to show his boss that he is a loyal party man, he should be careful before he opens it too wide to incur the rat of the same political class who shape things in this country.

If he were very passionate about the plight of the Niger Deltans, he should have known that PDP has never had a good manifesto that has the interest of the Niger Delta at hearth.  He should have, in the first place, rejected his job and align with other parties that have better manifesto that will favor the Deltans.

 If Mr. Labaran Maku was not playing the Ostrich, he should have, better, allowed President Jonathan to do his campaign and he (Maku) should thereafter use his office – as information and communications minister – to let media people interpret the President’s campaign message to the electorate.  He should not weep more than the bereaved.

If we liken what he said to what the son of Muammar al-Gaddafi of Libya said on Libyan television in respect of the on-going upheaval in Libya, we see, vividly, how detached these people in “rulership” positions are.

If this man has any good sense of history, he would remember that Comrade Adaka Boro was in the forefront for self determination by the Ijaws.  Mr. Maku should refer to the civil war – if need be – only as a reminder to modern people on how bad it was and not who the Deltans supported.  Time of war is not reference for how votes should be cast.  If anything it only shows that Mr. Maku is not matured enough to hold this information portfolio and should be made to resign this appointment, immediately, before he uses it to inflame passion which could breed disaffection amongst the ethnic nationalities in Nigeria.  The real Niger Deltans know who their enemy is just like the rest of us in Nigeria.  It is the political class – Minister Maku inclusive – and not the North or South as Minister Maku wants us to believe.


Chris Onyishi

Owerri, Nigeria.

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