By Louis Odion
The more the nation’s colony of ex-militants and other known Goodluck Jonathan sympathisers try to extricate themselves from resurgent pipeline vandalisation in the Niger Delta, the more they seem given away by some curious coincidences. From his hideout suspected to be in Gbaramatu (in Delta State), fugitive Tompolo has been churning out tons and tons of statements lately disclaiming the new militant group called Niger Delta Avengers (NDA).
Funnily, the more Tompolo tries to distance himself from NDA’s nefarious activities the harder the group defend him in statement issued each time crude pipeline is blown or gas vessels broken. They tell us he is a nice guy; the type a nation should be proud to call a patriot. Wonderful indeed.
But this serpentine road looks familiar. We walked the dodgy path before.
The comedy continued few days ago when a group that called itself “Egbesu Mightier Fraternity” – obviously operating from the same depraved hole as NDA – took infamy to another level by adding the release of Sambo Dasuki, a key suspect in the theft of $15bn arms cash, to their list of conditions to cease fire.
It is not our intention at this moment to question or speculate on what moral universe could possibly drive supposed “revolutionaries” or “freedom-fighters” or any entity that affects any modicum of righteousness to so blatantly hold brief for someone suspected – in fact, already encaged by mounting exhibits – of a felony as grave as the complete rape of the communal till and remain unashamed of the obvious contradictions. That is a topic for another day.
Of grave concern presently is the great hardship the activities of these fake “freedom-fighters” are increasingly imposing on the rest of us. Damaged pipelines have resulted in the steep decline of in oil receipt, and broken gas vessels have led to a drop from an average of 4,000 to an abysmal 1,300 megawatts in the past few days. Without gas, the power plants cannot generate electricity.
It is reassuring that the authorities are already taking the current challenge as an opportunity to finally do what ought to have been done all these years: diversifying the nation’s energy source from dependence on hydro and gas. At least, this is the simple message one could distill from the policy pronouncement made by 3-in-1 minister, Babatunde Fashola, SAN, last week while unveiling a roadmap as a response to the worsening energy crisis.
According to the minister, greater energy would in the coming months be channeled towards escalating the production of energy from solar and coal, to be added to the national grid and bolster what is available for consumers. Given the country’s relatively good weather, the solar option looks more attractive.
Appetizing as that might sound, the devil is however in the details. Solar energy doesn’t come cheap. The components are unique and capital-intensive. It has been suggested that the delivery date could be shortened if the government finds the means to expedite the creation of the enabling legal framework, which ordinarily involves tedious paper-work. Apart from offering other incentives like waving of duties on the hardware and software to be imported.
So, the question: does the government have the political will to bring the vision outlined in the Energy Mix to fruition and in good time?
Only when energy source is completely diversified from gas and hydro can the nation effectively castrate deviants and irritants who currently hold us to ransom by breaking the pipes ferrying gas to the energy plants.
But before then, it is high time genuine leaders of the Niger Delta rose and told off these criminal elements to stop profaning the Niger Delta question by turning an otherwise noble struggle into a tool for extortion and self-aggrandizement. True, they made fortune through several guises and disguises under their idol, Jonathan. But how did that really benefit the typical swamp-dweller who, like most other Nigerians, remains trapped today in desperate condition, with little or nothing to show for all the six relatively “prosperous” years Jonathan held sway.
As one has always maintained in this column over the years, plain buccaneers either seeking fresh ransoms or sulking over the loss of source of cheap money should not be mistaken for those genuinely seeking cogent and sustainable answers to the enduring Niger Delta question.