In time past, several men of honour have been celebrated because of their passion for the growth and emancipation of the hinterlands of which most notable is the man popularly known as King Jaja.
This hero, sold into slavery at the age of twelve, earned his way out and established himself as the leader of Anna Pepple House; a trading house in the kingdom with special interests in the palm oil trade.
Not only did he control the trade in the region, but taxed the British and exported palm oil directly to Liverpool! Even in death, this great hero is still revered and respected. However, just a few men from the Niger Delta have been able to fearlessly reproduce his kind of heroic and patriotic stance on issues that have to do with the region.
Isaac Jasper Adaka Boro fought against the exploitation of oil and gas resources in the Niger Delta which benefited mainly the Federal government and Eastern region with the capital in Enugu with no provision for the source of the resource. He died under questionable circumstances in 1968 around Ogu in Rivers state.
Most recently is Ken Saro Wiwa; an environmentalist that advocated for remediation of damaged Ogoni lands. Being the Vice-chairman of the Unrepresented Nations and Peoples Organization (UNPO) did not stop him from being gruesomely hanged alongside eight others by the Abacha’s military regime. It is still a worrisome fact that several politicians from Ken Saro Wiwa ’s community still prefer to be identified with today’s leadership that has tried to launder the image of the dreaded dictator. That readily portrays the kind of value system that is being practised amongst the political elites of the day.
Both Isaac Boro and Ken Saro Wiwa are men most people from the region refer to as the “Jaja 2” and “Jaja 3” respectively as they, at all times, patriotically propagated the interests of the region while forfeiting personal dispositions to drive home their penchant beliefs.
Today, the region enjoys the sacrifices of these men culminating in the establishment of the Niger Delta Development Commission (NDDC) and the Ministry Of Niger Delta Affairs but painfully, the rapid development that the people still crave for remains elusive which have been a source of concern for all.
It is rather difficult to identify any official of these ministries and agencies who would go the whole nine yards to spur rapid and aggressive development of the region with the active collaboration of the state governments rather than running cap in hand for Federal allocations which are mostly used for selfish ends.
The environmental degradation of the region has risen to an alarming rate and now, the region has become a terrible casualty of not only flood but carcinogenic emissions from gas flaring and artisan refining! Painfully, no official is championing the campaign for an environmental awareness except for a few activists like Ankio Briggs who is the Niger Delta Amazon raising her voice but disregarded by the people meant to bring these burning issues to the limelight.
As Niger-Delta continues to wait for that her; selfless economist that can see far beyond the comforts of an air-conditioned office; that vibrant leader that wouldn’t need to run to Abuja to massage the egos of men who are more focused on dishing out policies that do not reflect the pains and anguish of that fisherman; that driver, the trader, the farmer; let us all bear in mind, that history and posterity will always be there to adjudge the works of our hands.
Do what you can to put smiles on the faces of the downtrodden people of your immediate environment and stand up for justice and Equity all the days of your life as we collectively await the next ” Jaja” of our time.