Rumblings of renewed militancy continue in Bayelsa, Nigeria
The violence seen in the lead-up to the gubernatorial election could be just the beginning of trouble in the Niger Delta, says guest blogger Alex Thurston.
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According to MEND’s recent statements, the fresh attacks have come about for a number of reasons, including the alleged incompetence of President Jonathan, the alleged corruption of the government, and what MEND sees as the misguided use of amnesty funds. One of MEND’s communications reads in part, “Rather than address serious issues facing the nation and its citizens, Goodluck Jonathan squanders public funds on tribalistic sycophants and thugs calling themselves ex-militants.”Skip to next paragraph
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The discontent surrounding the question of who has benefited from the amnesty and who has not is critical. One analysis of the potential for renewed violence in the Delta elaborates:
The Presidency and security agents may have underrated the capacity of a group of ex-militants who claim that they were not included in the ‘largesse’, coming from the amnesty programme.
Their colleagues, enlisted in the programme, collect moneys from the federal government...Some have received training abroad; some have been sent to schools abroad. Ex-militant leaders are those who commanded ‘troops’ and called themselves ‘Generals’ during the militancy era.
Many of them are millionaires now. They have access to the Presidency, top government officials and high profile establishments. The presidency pacifies the ex-militant leaders to sustain stability in the Niger Delta since the leaders are thought to have control over their foot soldiers.
Indeed, many of the ex-militant leaders ... have significant influence over their ex-militant members.
The ex-militant leaders are however the envy of many youths now threatening fresh militancy. Some of them feel unsafe, that some of their boys could harm them. This is mainly because the leaders have become so rich, leaving behind some of their members in anguish.
The boys insist that they fought the wars while the leaders argue that they took higher risks of providing arms and being the main persons hunted by security men prior to the amnesty regime. Some of the youths (called boys by the ‘generals’), simply cannot feed now, others want to go to school, some want to be rich, some want to drive posh cars and fly on business class seats in airlines as most ex-militants do on domestic and international trips.
The whole piece is worth reading. If this diagnosis is correct – namely, that there exists a class of former footsoldiers who received little or no benefit from the amnesty, and are angry enough over their exclusion to contemplate picking up weapons again – the violence seen in the lead-up to the gubernatorial election in Bayelsa could be just the beginning of another round of problems for the Delta.
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