Cultists In Niger Delta: Stop Them Now or Never
Life has not ceased to throw back at us what we feed it.
Seed time and harvest are just two principles that exact their force on us as a humans.
Nigeria’s situation has become a peculiar one that sometimes crawls in and out of the mind of its citizens freely, with many shaking their heads, not in bewilderment anymore but in subtle acceptance of fading reality.
What started in the University College, Ibadan, in the 1950s has been adulterated as it spreads across the nation.
First, it spread to other institutions, as the quest for power and satisfaction of individualistic interests grew and now it has settled in our communities in Niger Delta, like a tsetse fly in a scrotum.
It must be tactically crushed everyone says but we continue to condone the itch.
Our peace in the Niger Delta region of Nigeria sometimes disappears, as the battle for supremacy between rival cult groups extends to residents.
January 1, 2018 is still fresh on our minds, with the killing of several residents of Omoku, the headquarters of Ogba/Egbema/Ndoni Local Government Area (ONELGA) of Rivers State, who were on their way back home from the New Year Day’s eve.
How Did We Get Here?
The Fund For Peace had traced the situation in Niger Delta to late 1980’s and mid-1990’s, when “a wave of militarisation occurred among confraternities against the backdrop of a broader militarisation of society, particularly in Rivers and other key Niger Delta states.
“Contributing to this trend of militarisation was a growing perception that peaceful methods of advocacy and mobilisation around issues of economic justice and representative governance were yielding limited results”.
The past has come hunting us, giving birth to more and more trouble, like an Iroko tree that was not hewed at its tender stage before it grew bigger.
Now, they have continued to spread adopting different names - Vikings, Deewell, Icelanders, Deebam and Grenlanders - but their activities are all evil and alike.
Sleeping Federal Goliath
The failure of authorities to check the spread of cult groups has given birth to more cult groups which have now blossomed into a situation that makes families mourn and people dread the night, wishing sunset would never come.
Some of the members of these cult groups have been used by political office aspirants to torment opposition.
The black gold in the region seems to have brought its own problems, with money flowing into the hands of cult members from left, right and centre.
Offered amnesty in the second quarter of 2017; 12,430 different cult members, including late Don Wanny, in what looked more like a carnival than a genuine desire to truly embrace normal life, said they had dropped arms.
When money failed to come in bulk from the state government to match what they make before they accepted amnesty, they took up arms again, reflecting once again the monster that the society and years of rulers’ mismanagement of funds that could have given Nigerians a good lease of life had created.
What Will End It?
Governor Nyesom Wike had indicted multinational companies in the Niger Delta region, saying they were funding cultists, a reason they were “able to purchase sophisticated weapons with which they caused mayhem on communities and law-abiding citizens”.
He had accused security agencies of allowing these atrocities while in a meeting with the Minister of Interior, Abdulrahman Danbazzau.
In a chat with the State’s Commissioner for Information, Honourable Emmanuel Okah, he told Bounce News that the cultists who were now on the run had refused to work because they could not earn as much as they do from criminal activities back by the alleged largess from multinationals.
Who will blame the multinational companies?
Failure of security apparatus to provide them conventional protection had resulted in their seeking unconventional protection from the cult groups who they see as a threat to their business.
Rivers State is calm now, but how long this calmness lasts remains unknown.
The ultimate dilemma is that the cultists who had pushed away the amnesty they got in Rivers to go back to their old ways, have again received another amnesty from Governor Rochas Okorocha.
Amnesty will not bring an end to cult activities, but genuine repentance conciously made by the individuals involved.
Also Read: 4 Things Rivers State Demands From Cultists
One vital thing that will sustain peace is for security agencies to sit up and face the task without budging, as any slack in their duty will mean a relapse to chaos.
There is the need, however, for the government to focus on development of the region that has experienced pollution and degradation as a result of drilling activities and unchecked illegal refining.
The hand of this apein the soup must be permanently removed before we fail to clearly see the difference between animal and mankind.