Despite the overtures of amnesty granted by the Nigerian government, the oil war that was sparked earlier this years has taken on a whole new dimension.
The Movement for the Emancipation of the Niger Delta (MEND) blew up the Atlas Cove Jetty, a loading dock for oil tankers, in Lagos State on Sunday, July 12th. The attack lasted over 3 hours and has effectively crippled the capacity of the facility to receive petroleum products. It happened just as MEND leader, Henry Okay, was granted amnesty and released by the Federal Government.
WHAT THIS MEANS
Clearly, MEND chose to keep its threat of taking the oil war beyond the shores of the Niger Delta. By attacking an oil facility in Lagos State, the boundaries of the oil war have clearly been expanded suggesting that no part of the country is safe from an attack. MEND traditionally limited its attacks to oil installations in states comprising the Niger Delta region.
According to the Vanguard Newspaper, the "Atlas Cove jetty is the major petroleum products supply and distribution facility that takes petroleum products ... from ocean-going vessels and distributes ... to ... depots in South West Nigeria." As a consequence, this attack could spell a return to oil shortages and possibly affect already epileptic electricity generation which, in certain parts of the country, depends on oil. Although the jetty supplies 35% of the nation's oil supply, the NNPC has declared that contingency plans are in place to ensure that this attack does not disrupt oil supply to citizens.
But, the most significant consequence of this attack are the individuals who lost their lives and the families they have left behind. 5 individuals lost their lives in the dynamite ignited explosions and resulting fires. One of the Naval officers killed is a husband and father of 3 young children. Did he deserve to be shot and have his body burned in the impending chaos? This begs the question of whether or not this continued fighting by all parties in this oil war is worth it and when exactly it will come to an end. The reality is that although MEND has clarified that it aims to cripple oil installations so as to weaken the government and the oil industry, the overwhelming victims of MEND activities continue to be ordinary citizens and their dependents. The people whose decisions have harmed those that MEND claims to fight on behalf of, are far from affected by MEND's actions. While this statement is not an effort to incite attacks on any specific group of people, it is definitely a reflection of reality and an attempt to force a re-evaluation of the measures taken by all sides in this continuing cycle of violence, corruption and waste of life.
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