Presently, the Nigerian economy is nothing to write home about, and the economic team of the president blames it on the shortage in our oil export.
Obviously, when one mentions shortage of oil export and not fall in the price of oil, there is but one variable to blame- the rise of militancy in the Niger Delta creeks.
Oil spillage and gas flaring has immensely destroyed the fragile ecosystem of the region and the people have from time to time called on the Nigerian government to come to their aid; all to no avail.
It is on this basis that these region has birthed some of the most notorious and dangerous militant groups that have caused Nigeria to shake to its very foundations.
Investigations have revealed five of the most deadly militant groups that have emerged from the region, threatening to destroy the peace and unity of Nigeria if their requests are not tended to.
We begin our count from number 5 to number 1, below are the most dreaded militant groups to have emerged from the Niger Delta region.
5. Niger Delta People’s Volunteer Force (NDPVF)
The NDPVF is one of the largest armed groups in the Niger Delta region. This group is composed primarily of members of the region’s largest ethnic group, the Ijaw. Founded in 2004 with the aim to gain more control over the region’s vast petroleum resources, particularly in Delta state. Sources reveal that until 2005 the group was spearheaded by their charismatic leader, Alhaji Mujahid Dokubo-Asari. The NDPVF’s Ijaw-oriented agenda caused serious chaos with both the Nigerian state and federal governments, as well as with neighboring ethnic groups, chief of which was the Itsekiris. This rivalry caused a lot of conflicts in the Niger Delta region centered primarily on the city of Warri and subsequently the ‘oil capital’ of Port Harcourt. Historians says that up until 2003, the center of regional violence was Warri. However, after the violent convergence of NDPVF with the Niger Delta Vigilante (NDV) led by Ateke Tom, the conflict became focused on Port Harcourt and outlying towns.
4. Niger Delta Vigilante (NDV)
This armed militia group was led by Ateke Tom. The group is composed primarily by ethnic Ijaws from in and around Port Harcourt and their main goal is controlling the area’s vast oil resources. Reports suggest that in the late 2003, the NDV precipitated a conflict with their rival Ijaw ethnic militia, the Niger Delta People’s Volunteer Force (NDPVF). The two groups spent most of 2004 in an escalating conflict which was ended when the Nigerian government and military eventually intervened on the side of the NDV in summer of 2004. Sources revealed that the government’s support for the NDV went on to stir the Nigerian oil crisis, beginning in October 2004.
3. Movement for the Emancipation of the Niger Delta (MEND)
Perhaps the most popular militant group to spring up from the Niger Delta region, MEND which was founded in 2014 is composed primarily of members of the region’s largest ethnic group, the Ijaw.
MEND claims to expose exploitation and oppression of the people of the Niger Delta and devastation of the natural environment by public-private partnerships between the Nigerian government and firms that explore oil in the region.
The Economist has described the organization as one that “portrays itself as political organisation that wants a greater share of Nigeria’s oil revenues to go to the impoverished region that sits atop the oil. In fact, it is more of an umbrella organisation for several armed groups, which it sometimes pays in cash or guns to launch attacks.”
MEND’s stated goals are to localize control of Nigeria’s oil and to secure reparations from the federal government for pollution caused by the oil industry. In an interview with one of the group’s leaders, who used the alias Major-General Godswill Tamuno, the BBC reported that MEND was fighting for “total control” of the Niger Delta’s oil wealth, saying local people had not gained from the riches under the ground and the region’s creeks and swamps.
In 2006, MEND called President Olusegun Obasanjo to free two jailed Ijaw leaders — Mujahid Dokubo-Asari, who is jailed and charged with treason, and Late Diepreye Alamieyeseigha, a former governor of Bayelsa state convicted of corruption. In 2007, Obasanjo’s successor, President Umaru Musa Yar’Adua authorised the release of Dokubo-Asari and Alamieyeseigha.
2. Niger Delta Liberation Front (NDLF)
The NDLF was formerly by John Togo who claims that their main goal is to secede from Nigeria and gain independence from Nigeria. Reports reveal that although Togo is the NDLF’s most notorious member he was killed on July 19, 2011 by a Nigerian air strike near Warri in Delta state.
The group is closely linked to MEND and both groups fought side by side against the Nigerian army. Earlier in 2013, a war erupted within the NDLF after 2 different commanders claimed to be leader.
It ended after one was killed in March 2013. Sources reveal that in 1998 the Ijaw Youth Council (IYC) was formed and many militants were brought up in the Ijaw Youth Council. In 1999 the Odi massacre occurred in Bayelsa state which was the spark that erupted into violence.
1. Niger Delta Avengers (NDA)
This militant group publicly announced their existence in March 2016. The NDA has since its arrival into the scene, carried out a series of attacks on oil producing facilities in the delta, causing the shutdown of oil terminals and a fall in Nigeria’s oil production to its lowest level in twenty years, hence their claim to relevance.
The attacks by NDA has caused Nigeria to fall behind Angola as Africa’s largest oil producer, the reduced oil output has hampered the Nigerian economy and destroyed its budget. With Nigeria’s revenue seemingly dependent on the oil industry, the NDA has given the nation cause to be on the edge.
The NDA has said that it seeks to create a sovereign state in the Niger Delta and have threatened to disrupt Nigeria’s economy if their aims are not met. There are speculations that members of the NDA are young, educated, and well traveled.
Nigerians watch keen as their leader is weighed in the balance, the people are watching to see if president Buhari will dialogue with the militants or go at them with military might.