Opinion: NORTHERN NIGERIA AND NORTH DAKOTA; TWO “NORTHS” IN OPPOSITION – By Dikko Muhammad
SINCE April this year, there have been series of protests in North Dakota, the United states because an oil company is building oil pipeline which will cross a sacred burial ground and the Missouri river, the main source for the standing Rock Sioux tribe. In another part of the world, the North in Nigeria, people are jubilating the discovery of oil in Bauchi, Gombe and Maiduguri states. These two stunning oppositional stances left stunned on why people here and there think this differently. I observed some reasons on why the North in Dakota sees oil pipeline as a curse and why the other North in Nigeria sees it as a blessing.
For the Dakota, the indigenous people are facing extinction from the killings and wanton destruction of white people or Europeans since the discovery of the United States by Christopher Columbus. Moving in as migrants, the settlers from Europe terrorised the Red Indians, that is the Native Americans, thanks to the Americas political language. To save themselves from extinction and preserve some remnants of themselves, the natives isolated and set up villages far away from cities and adopted their languages and cultures as a way of defiantly avoiding marginalisation and assimilation. As for the other North in Nigeria, the people have suffered intimidation from the South of constant warnings and threats of breakup because the latter keeps the country as one entity economically. It provides the economic sustenance of the country. Oil has been Nigeria’s main source of external revenue from the the late 1960s to the present. So oil for the North is a dignity for the region because it will liberate the region from being parasite to an economically full-fledged, buoyant economy. With the North and South producing oil, all regions in Nigeria would be supporting, and be supported by the center in a mutual way.
Again, the North in Dakota is dominated by people well-read on ecology and the lives of species that oil can destroy on a single spillage. Oil may have an immediate importance to them but the disaster it would inevitably brings with itself is so alarming that giving up the importance is the only logical thing one can do. But in the North of Nigeria, even though farming is still the main source of living, the real lesson of the destruction of oil spillage is yet to be known. The spillage we hear about down here is in the oil producing states, and even there, the matter is not taken seriously. We are Africans; a people with short term mentality. We are mostly concern about immediate gratification of our immediate desires/needs. As for the consequences, we just that we depend on God to protect us.
Again, the people in North Dakota know full well that they cannot have “avengers” and pipeline vandals and “bunkerers” even if their government condone such activities. But in the North of Nigeria, some people (quite silent now because the oil thing is yet to be materialised) see the oil discovery as a chance to create Borno, Bauchi and Maiduguri avengers. So that at a time, the government in power would call them and give them amnesty. You can bet with certainty that the Nigerian government could not, and even if it can, would not protect the pipelines being installed in the North right now. And this is why some of us opposed the attempt by our government to provide nuclear-powered electricity. We have fear that one day some”iskanci” avengers may blow up the whole thing and expose us to nuclear extinction.
Again, these people in Dakota know that soon the world would stop using this oil. Presently Germany is paying its scientists huge money for them to come up with biofuel, carbon-free to replace the need for oil. When that time comes, oil would be as useless as the weed that grows in our neighborhoods habouring mosquitoes. The ordinary Nigerian would hear this as a very stupid joke that soon to come, the world might not require oil anymore for anything.
The Dakotas are also very well aware that oil basically serves the interest of the stinking, fucking-rich, privileged minority of people who are quite less than one percent of the world’s population. The jubilant Northerners here would never know the exact quantity of the oil to be drilled. Not even their central government might ever know. That’s the business of international companies drilling the oil. So that oil would be beneficial to our foreign predators who would come and destroy our once pristine and pure ecology.
And as for me, like the ordinary Nigerian, my take is only, “Allah Ya Isa kawai.”
Hmmm mm this pessimistic me!