Quasi-News and Commnetary

by Wordworks2001

Threats followed by promised action has been the hallmark of the Movement for the Emancipation of the Niger Delta (MEND). The militant group had never been heard of before January 2006, making its mark kidnapping expatriate oil field workers to bring world attention to the plight of the people who live in Nigeria’s oil producing region. So when the purported leader of MEND threatens to unleash suicide bombers who finsihed training two weeks ago, people sit up and listen.
Seeking nothing more than equitable treatment from a government that has historically been one of the most corrupt in the world, and fair compensation for the natural resources the multinational oil companies take from their lands, have made few, if any, unreasonable demands. It seeks the immediate release of the former governor of Bayelsa State and of the leader of another militant organization that was the biggest in the region, until MEND came along.

MEND has proven to be capable military tacticians and fierce fighters. When they threaten to do something, it happens where and when they say it will, more often than not. Apparently its leaders are ready to up the ante in this no limit game of poker it is playing with the oil companies and the Nigerian government.

The leader of MEND, a soft spoken, low key Nigerian who calls himself TEKS OMOLU, recently gave an interview to the Daily Sun of Lagos. What he said has struck fear in the hearts of many expatriates who live and work in Nigeria. It appears Omolu’s MEND has decided to take a page straight out of Muqtada al-Sadr’s playbook.

Yenagoa, Bayless State, Nigeria, 2005, the former governor, Alamieyeseigha, is arrested and jailed by President Obsasanjo. In Port Harcourt, Rivers State, the Niger Delta’s most well-known freedom fighter Alhaji Dokubo Asari left his home to go to a meeting the Nigerian capital of Abuja. It’s been more than 450 days, and neither man has returned to the Niger Delta yet.

Currently, around seven expatriate hostages are being held by militant groups from the Niger Delta. The last three that were taken are from Italy and Lebanon and work for Italian Oil giant, ENI. MEND has threatened to keep them until Asari, whom they claim is the victim of a trumped up charge of Treason and Alamieyeseigha, who was jailed for corruption, are freed.

MEND also demands Shell Petroleum Development Company pay the $1.5 billion the Nigerian National Assembly ordered the Dutch company to pay the Ijaw Nation as compensation for over 40 years of oil exploration and environmental abuse. It is only the latest attempt to rectify the problem. The Nigerian government has always successfully dodged the bullet. Here are some attempts that preceded MEND:

  • The lack of will of past leaders to implement the mild recommendation in the Willink Commission report kept the inequities growing.
  • Late Major Isaac Adaka Boro led a 12-day revolution in 1966 but he was suppressed.
  • The Ijaw Youths of the Kaiama declaration fame in 1992 were also repressed.
  • Asari Dokubo of the Niger Delta People’s Volunteer Force was arm-twisted, his guns taken from him and presently in prison facing treason charge.

MEND represents the latest and perhaps best effort for the Ijaw Nation to get what has been stolen from them. It claims to be “a union of all relevant militant groups in the Niger Delta. This includes all units headed by Alhaji Asari.”

The interview by Teks Omolu was very unusual in that it represents the first time an official from MEND even identified himself and to do so in such a public venue as a newspaper that had his accompanying picture must be considered foolhardy, no matter how confident he is in his safety and security. After all, Asari was a very public person, until he was jailed.

There is safety in anonimty and I would be very surprised if the Omolu character who claims to lead MEND, actually does. It is the groups very “formlessness,” that Robert Greene, in The 48 Laws of Power, THAT GUARANTEES ITS POWER. According to Greene:

“By taking a shape, by having a visible plan, you open yourself to attack. Instead of taking a form for your enemy to grasp, keep yourself adaptable and on the move. Accept the fact that nothing is certain and no law is fixed. The best way protect yourself is to be as fluid and formless as water; net bet on stability or lasting order. Everything changes”

Formlessness helped Mao defeat the Chinese Nationalists and Vietnam’s Ho Ch Minh to defeat the French and American armies The communists controlled pockets of areas in the country. It worked in small units to hit and run at the enemy. But their guerilla soldiers were always on the move and for the most part, as invisible as MEND.

Nigerian soldiers, while some of the best in Africa, are no where near as disciplined as the MEND fighters have proven to be. They have been used as tools of pacification as they have raped, maimed and killed the innocent poor of the Niger Delta. The indigenes of the region have basically resigned themselves to a very sacrificial war of payback.

In an interview and story in todays Daily Sun, Omolu reveals ” The nation may soon witness a deadlier dimension in the Niger Delta struggle as the militants have threatened to introduce suicide bombers as a new way of enforcing their demands. The militants also plan to intensify kidnaps, expanding their dragnet to enable them kidnap governors, council Chairman and other public office holders perceived to be corrupt. It is their own way of ensuring a more effective control of corruption in the region.”

Just the threat of suicide bombers not only gives us a picture of how desperate this battle has become, but how sophisticated and dedicated the militants have become. One well placed suicide bomb attack, say at Murtla Mohammed International Airport or in a crowded market center in Port Harcourt would be a tragedy of monumental precautions. Nigeria is ill-prepared to respond to the human losses from an airliner crash, how would it respond to hundreds perhaps thousands injured and killed?

I urge the reader to go the Daily Sun link and read the entire story. If half of what Omolu threatens happens, 2007 in Nigeria will be bloody indeed.


Terrorism Knowledge Base

ISN Security Watch

Wordworks2001 is a retired US Army master sergeant. He lives in Indiana and works in Nigeria. He blogs at http://wordworks2001.blogspot.com

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