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09 Sep Written by  Japheth Omojuwa

In Whose Interests?

Ebikabowei "Boyloaf" Victor-Ben of the Movement for the Emancipation of the Niger Delta (MEND) argued during the past week that it was wrong to call what is going on in the Niger Delta oil theft. He would prefer the term "resource control." 

Mr. Ebikabowei should know because he is now a billionaire like at least four other partially-retired militants who after being granted amnesty by late President Umaru Yar'Adua have found renewed relevance under the President Goodluck Jonathan administration.

One of them, Tompolo, recently acquired a private jet. To emphasize the "beauty" in this acquisition, a cheerleader for these ex-militants argued that if the likes of Gen. Ibrahim Babangida (rtd.) could become billionaires through Niger Delta's oil, why not Tompolo and his fellow travellers?

This would look like a valid argument when viewed only from the surface. It is not, when one goes just a step below that. What were the militants fighting for in the first place? Were they fighting to be individually as rich as the likes of IBB or to better the lots of their people?

That Tompolo, a self-acclaimed activist, would find it comfortable flying in a private jet while the majority of his people crawl in poverty says everything about our society. It is a not just about the likes of Tompolo, it is about our society. More often than not, too many people who pose as defenders of the people’s interest eventually turn out to be defenders of those who keep the people oppressed.

Look at the elements posing as the new PDP. Have you taken a look at their demands from the president? No one is asking the President questions that border on his performance in office, no reference, direct or indirect, to the ongoing ASUU strike, no concern about the people whatsoever in those demands, just plain selfish interests!

In this country, on this day, like it was in the past, the Nigerian masses are on their own. The people who pose as our defenders finally get a chance to speak for us and act for us, but what do they do? They settle down with those they were fighting against and grab their own share of the seemingly endless national cake. How many times have we seen people who should be asking for more because of the sheer number of people they defend settle for less because all they see is the self and family?

Every Nigerian generation has suffered a betrayal from its loudest and most powerful voices. Every Nigerian ethnic group including the largest one - the poor - has lost its voice when those eventually positioned to make a difference see the opportunity as the one to make a fortune. The latest failure of a generation is the erstwhile seemingly genuine agitators of the Niger Delta.

A look at the sheer opportunity that has since come the way of the Niger Delta since 1999 will confirm one thing: people may have their own in power, have their own in the so-called juicy ministries, have their kin running the show on water, land and in the air, but at the end of the day they will remain worse off if a fight for the collective gets undermined by the desperation of a few for personal riches.

This is the sole reason it becomes even more critical to see public office, not as a place to send one’s kin or religious folk but as a place for competent men and women of integrity. These are the only people who will defend the interests of the majority irrespective of what language they speak or what God they serve. As for those who insist on ethnicity as the determinant of who leads us, they are only about their personal interests. We all know this already.

Dog