In the words of Thomas Merton “Peace demands the most heroic labor and the most difficult sacrifice. It demands greater heroism than war. It demands greater fidelity to the truth and a much more perfect purity of conscience”.
This is the heroic labor imputed by the Niger Delta Ex-agitators when they decided to lay down their arms, which had crumbled the nations economy on the beck and call of late President Umaru Musa Yaradua on the eve of 2009. A sacrifice so heroic it restored peace to the once hostile Niger Delta and paved the way for the resurgence of our economic bloom.
The patriotic act of sacrifice by the Niger Delta agitators opened our nation up to economic surge with a tripartite staged agreement of peace building, peacemaking and peace building.
The peacemaking phase is dominated by activities to maintain order and stabilize the environment through separation of competing groups, suppression of armed groups, and securing of ceasefires. Military and hard security instruments usually dominate this phase.
This is usually followed by the peacekeeping phase where the objective is to secure political settlement and put together a politico-constitutional framework for sustainable peace in the post-conflict period. Activities in this phase include peace dialogues, commissions of enquiry, national dialogue, constitutional conferences, and mediation. The main instruments are political, psycho-social, and legal in nature.
Finally, the peace-building phase focuses on addressing structural drivers of conflict. It entails the deployment of developmental, economic, and political instruments to cement peace agreements and prevent reoccurrence of violent conflict. Key activities in this phase are those linked to economic growth and development; employment provisioning, new power and resource sharing arrangements, and reconstruction of infrastructure.
Despite the well-planned roadmap to peace in the Niger Delta successive governments have undermined the most important ingredient of peace building. As the present administration plans reintroduce the same indices that fueled the past agitation.
Another son of the Niger Delta, Dr. Goodluck Ebele Jonathan understood the concept of sacrificing for peace hence made that heroic sacrifice for the cause of peace when he congratulated him even before the election results were announced. Averting a predicted civil war cum disintegration of our nation by calling on all his supporters to avoid actions that would lead to the lost of the life of any Nigerian. This call was headed by all and sundry as history have it that Nigeria peacefully transferred power to an opposition government. An unprecedented achievement in Africa.
If the Nigerian state had been faithful to truth and willing to sacrifice even a little for peace, we can all peacefully chat a new way forward for our nation but with the present governments mentality of oppression and subjugation the Niger Delta Avengers shall stand as the opposition Mr. President seeks in the Niger Delta people.
We shall no longer sacrifice oil to feed all, nor are we willing to subject our environment to pollution while the proceeds are used to beautify now oil producing states.
We shall no longer sacrifice for the peace of Nigeria as it has thought the Niger Delta people a bitter lesson.
There is no task that is more important or closer to our heart than ensuring that the peace that is enjoyed by the present administration in the Niger Delta is upturned.