Sparing no time, a Shell pipeline in the Niger Delta sprung a leak one day after MEND declared total war on foreign oil companies and any government elements involved with them. Yesterday the leak was confirmed as sabotage, but the attack had yet to be claimed.
Today MEND issued an offensive denial.
“Mend was not directly responsible," the group told Reuters on Monday. "It was certainly a response to our order to resume hostilities by one of the various freelance groups we endorse.”
What makes MEND so potent is that it could be speaking the exact truth. As commander of the umbrella, it gives orders and its splinters strike. It doesn’t have to do anything - or it could have been MEND. A complex insurgency to be sure.
Regardless, the Trans Ramos oil pipeline’s closure forced Shell to shut down three pumping stations Trans Ramos oil pipeline, in a country already facing fuel disruptions.
Will the world also feel the wrath of Hurricane Moses? Military force is useless in the Niger Delta. Only true political engagement can bring resolution to this conflict.
“The absence of the president has negatively affected hopes of dialogue towards addressing the real issues surrounding the unrest in the Niger Delta,” spokesperson Jomo Gbomo said in an email interview yesterday. “It appears President Yar’Adua did not delegate this very serious, peace threatening issue to anyone in his absence.”
“What the Delta needs is a constitutional amendment which will only come when it becomes clear to our legislators that the oil in the Delta will stop flowing,” he said. “Also, the president is surrounded by so many corrupt individuals looking to make money from everything concerned with the Niger Delta.”
These words are heartening considering the present situation. MEND will return to the negotiating table once, if, President Yar’Adua returns to Nigeria. He should realize at this point MEND is his primary task, both from a security and democratic standpoint. Were he to do as MEND suggests and cast away dead political weight, he will achieve more results than through isolated military force.
“This is a continuation of Hurricane Moses,” warns Gbomo. “The fighters have absolutely no fear of the Joint Task Force and consider those members who accepted the amnesty as history. Nothing is impossible. If military steps are taken, it will only worsen the situation. If a sensible political offer is made that will move us forward, that will also be considered.”
Otherwise, “Nothing will be spared.”