I remember the first time I heard the name Niger-Delta, the first thing I asked was, ”wetin be that?”. To me, the Niger had always been that river that you saw when you crossed Onitsha Bridge and somehow the “nupe tribe” and kuli- kuli always came to mind. It took a long time for me to accept the fact that I was indeed a child of the Niger- Delta, the one they talk about on CNN, BBC, and the financial times. The one that has become almost exotic in the eyes of other Nigerians. Exotic to them because they have never crossed that bridge in Bayelsa state which advices you that the leprosy beggars that hound the bridge and your car have been “treated”, so please, do not fear. It is now exotic because militants attack oil rigs and kidnap at will. We have military presence in our land and our pidgin English has no equal.(By the way, that Zamfara state governor wey dey say make dem deploy military for dis side, dem tell una say we no get am already ehn? Military dey everywhere na! I suggest make una look for another thing to deploy because military full dis side remain! Haba! If you no believe me, oya, carry ya legs come dis side!). We have summits on a regular basis, cease-fires and other interesting tidbits to keep the rest of Nigeria and the world interested. We could be that black hole in Joseph Conrad’s heart of darkness, full of savages and illiterates spoiling for a fight. Yet, even with all the action that we produce, nothing has been done. I have asked this question before, and I will ask again, “for how long shall we wait”?
Niger Delta is an interesting place in the newspapers and television yet for the ordinary man and woman living here, it is home. It is the place where they wake up every day, and just like you, they make a living. They toil all day for a better day for their children. They go to school, they play and they sing and dance. Many of us enter the hot humid air, and all we want is to get home safely and see another day. So those that call for drastic actions, be aware that we do not live on oil rigs and eat salmon and croquettes. We do not play golf and neither do we play polo. The ordinary man is always the one to suffer when random and drastic actions are taken. The answer to the problem will never be one that can be achieved over night. As it has taken decades to create the rot that it is, so will it take decades to build and rebuild this place.
Meanwhile, I don ask all of una embassy people before, wetin una dey do ehn? Na so, dem just execute two Nigerians for Indonesia anyhow, haba! In fact, I would like to know what kind of legal help those men got before they were executed. Did they ever meet any Nigerian officials from the embassy? And if so, what help did they get? And all of una young young men dem, wey wan hustle for better life, e better make una begin farm because all those asian prisons dem, I swear! Na real ogbologbo!
P.S: To the Minister of culture, tourism and the rest, ehen, I hear say all the deaths of all these great musicians dey pain you well, well, ndo. Instead of crying, I suggest we do something worthwhile to promote arts and culture in the name of these great men. I am sure that is something they would have wanted. If you no get any idea, make you no shy, just contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org I get idea boku remain!
Una do well.