Soyinka defends Nigeria’s militants as attacks continue

In The Politics of Politics on April 10, 2010 at 7:08 am

Price for Oil, 16 March 2010

They are two moments in history, intricately linked, although poles apart. Today Peter Voser, the chief executive of Shell, outlines the company’s financial and production strategy for the coming year.

Once again Nigeria was mentioned as a key country where the company had added strategic reserves.

“These are exciting times for Shell”, said Voser. “We are poised to deliver a new wave of financial and production growth.”

Quite how much of this growth will come from Nigeria remains to be seen. For the last fifty years, Shell’s and Nigeria’s futures have been intertwined.

However as the violence spreads in the Delta and elsewhere in Nigeria and the country limps along in a political vacuum, influential voices are warning that the country is on the brink of collapse.

Thousands of miles away from Voser’s polished presentation, Wole Soyinka, the Nigerian Nobel peace prize novelist warned that Nigeria is close to breaking up and had become a failed state. He said the leadership of the country has descended into a “theatre of the absurd”.

Soyinka’s warnings came soon after the Movement for the Emancipation of the Niger Delta (Mend) – the leading militant group in the delta region – set off two car bombs, in the government building in the southern oil city of Warri, where talks were being held about implementing an amnesty programme.

Mend said the explosions were meant to “announce our continued presence”. The group warned that it plans renewed attacks against the oil industry in coming days. Officials from the Delta states had been meeting in Warri to discuss implementing the terms of an amnesty programme launched last year.

Soyinka defended the “real militants”, whom he said had a right to take on the government over decades of neglect, rights abuses, environmental crimes and theft of resources.

Mr Soyinka said Nigeria had a failing “neocolonial constitution”: one that has historically supported the oil industry and not the people.

But don’t expert Peter Voser to admit that in his presentation today.


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