This picture is located somewhere deep in the heart of the Niger Delta. It is a flow station protected by a high barbed wire fence. It has only two entrances. This flow station is heavily guarded round the clock 24/7. The flow station is said to be unique because its contents aren’t the usual brand of crude oil. As a result, this station is said to be worth hundreds of millions of dollars. It is about a mile to the nearest village. For its protection and sensitivity, this piece will skip its other details.
On the day the #IntrepidWarrior visited the sight, about four uniformed and heavily armed soldiers were guarding the facility. As soon as they spotted the visitor, their alarm signals must have gone off simultaneously. Their immediate reaction gave the impression of the fact that this facility must be highly priced. The #IntrepidWarrior spoke with them briefly, introducing himself as a visitor who just wanted to see the progress the facility had brought to the nearby community. He told them he grew up about some miles not too far from there. A short time later, he left.
That evening, it was learnt that the #Avengers had sent word that they were going to storm the facility and advised the soldiers to vacate the place in their own interests, for their own safety. The militants made it known to the soldiers that the four of them won’t be a match for them. And even if they called for reinforcement, they could only make matters worse. According to the villagers, the soldiers packed their bags and hurriedly left the flow station that evening. They knew better not to confront the #Avengers whose recent exploits is known far and wide, all the way to Wall Street and Washington DC.
The #IntrepidWarrior was curious and waited to see the end of that little unfolding drama. True to their promise, the #Avengers, at exactly by 12 midnight, stormed the facility in two gunboats. But on this visit, they scouted the peremeter fencing and other vital information and perhaps marked the flow station as a prime target to be destroyed at their time of convenience. The Niger Delta is crisscrossed with thousands of such oil and gas facilities. They could storm any at their whim and caprice. Almost all the oil and gas facilities are vulnerable to a large degree.
Given the above scenario, one must wonder how the military expects to annihilate the militants by bombing them out of existence without heavy collateral damage? Can the army really bomb the #Avengers out of existent and risk losing the war itself? Can the administration risk losing whatever is left of the oil and gas industry, and in the process further put its military generals in collison with the Hague for war crimes? Already, the army has been indicted by Amnesty International for killing unarmed IPOB demostrators. Can the military therefore, ill afford to take another indictment for the gross abuse of human rights violations in the Niger Delta?
While these issues dominate both sides of the impasse, there are other things that occupied the mind of the #IntrepidWarrior. He was not far from one of the tributaries of the River Nunn. Under the shining moonlight, he could clearly see how the river was heavily polluted. In the village, the natives lamented their fate and told stories of the good old days when food, fish and virtually everything was bountiful. Looking around, there were no relics of the past to offer them a sense of nostalgia. To most of them, their paradise was gone forever. The multi-million dollar flow station in no way was about to alleviate their poverty and miserable lives. It is that sense of hopelessness that have drawn them to sympathise with the mission of the #Avengers.
So far in the Niger Delta, Ogoniland has become the gold standard in epic pollution matters. But traverse through the region and one cannot even imagine the sense-defying devastation of the ecosystem and how it might take several hundreds of years to reinvent the Niger Delta as it were. It is preposterous to talk about the Niger Delta ever getting back to her natural God-given state. However, the greater tragedy is that the people of the Niger Delta have nothing to fall back on because the socio-economic and political system have completely eliminated them from the equation. The only variables in the oil and gas industry are three constants: the govt (g), the oil giants, (og) and the cabals [C]. The equation has no place for the little guys called the natives!
After several years, it has dawned on the people that the federal government and the oil giants have no appetite for meaningful dialogue that would put the actual owners of the resources in the drivers seat. Over the years, it has become self-evident that Nigeria’s over-dependence on crude oil has produced an elite class whose lifestyles are tied to the oil and gas industry like an umbilical cord to a new-born baby. Consequently, weaning Nigeria’s power-drunk political class off the Niger Delta must take an epic battle for the ages. No one is sure how long this epic battle will last. It is this million dollar question that the #Avengers are trying to decipher. It is dubbed the fight between David and Goliath as they confront the military that is armed to the teeth.
Even so, a few things are going for the little man David. The #Avengers can boast of state of the art weapon system within a short time if pushed to the outer limits of their endurance. There’s already talk they possess surface to air missiles systems capable of expanding the theater of war. Besides, it is no brainer for the militants to acquire other types of deadly low platform striking capabilities that could rock far away locations outside the region. They could also add another dimension to the situation by hiring mercenaries to aid them as needed. This possibility could be more than ugly.
However, their best advantage is that they know the terrain like the back of their palms. They already have the targets figured out. And they can strike at them no matter any air, sea or land bombardment. The army could chew more than they can handle if they underestimate this David of the Niger Delta. This is an inconvenient truth that the oil giants cannot tell.
__________ Ebi B Asain