In every society, there exists a group of individuals who have inadvertently sworn to be nuisances. Rather than contribute to the growth and betterment of their immediate environment, they chose to become rabble-rousers and painfully stupid people in their thoughts and actions.
For many years, the self-promoting Niger Delta militant, notoriously known by Nigerians as Asari Dokubo, has remained a nuisance to Nigerian society. Besides his nuisance value, no sane person takes him seriously. Many years ago, he rode on the genuine sentiments of the people of the Niger Delta, whose lands were being decimated by the activities of oil companies that were operating in their land, to become prominent and gain massive wealth and fortune.
He started featuring in conversations in the 2000s as an activist until the Umaru Yar’Adua administration launched an amnesty program and the embattled militants were later allowed to have a look at what was ‘in the pipelines of Abuja’, turning former warlords of the creeks into overnight billionaires and contractors. It is without a doubt that he was one of the warlords who became instant hits on the wings of the Niger Delta agitation.
His actions and utterances in the aftermath of those agitations always made many Nigerians quick to dismiss him as an irritant who found his way to prominence in a wayward society brimming with rebellious children. That was the reputation Asari Dokubo rightly had until recent developments.
Today, Dokubo no longer speaks as just an irritant or an ignorant noisemaker. He is now a typical personification of the huge hole on the deck of the gigantic Titanic that the Nigerian state has become. The Nigerian ship was just like the Titanic, on the verge of sinking after being hit by human icebergs in the mold of Asari Dokubo.
The two most vivid scenarios that Dokubo has presented that tell the story of the impending danger looming in Nigeria are that of a situation when an ordinary citizen like Dokubo will threaten an ethnic group with sophisticated weapons on social media, yet elicit only silence from the law enforcement agencies, and also that of a situation where an ex-militant will visit the seat of power to hold ‘closed door’ meetings with the president and afterward buoyantly sit right there on the green chairs in the Presidential Villa with the Nigerian coat of arms hanging just above his head to huff and puff before highly rated Nigerian journalists. The truth remains that, in recent times, only a few places can compete with Nigeria when it comes to constantly dishing out absurdities on such an industrial scale.
It is important to point out that Asari Dokubo had no business sitting directly under Nigeria’s coat of arms. If Nigeria had a system that was working, the coat of arms was supposed to be a symbol of state, symbolism being an important part of diplomacy as stated in Article 20 of the 1961 Vienna Convention on Diplomatic Relations. As a non-state actor, Dokubo had no business denigrating Nigeria that way. He simply addressed Nigeria like a visiting head of state! How low can Nigeria go?
Ever since President Bola Tinubu was sworn in as President of Nigeria, Dokubo has developed some monstrous sycophantic dispositions and attention-seeking antics to be noticed and given some piece of the national cake. That he will go down to the seat of power to offer such disgraceful actions is beyond preposterous.
Sitting right there at the Presidential Villa, he accused the Nigerian Army and Navy of oil theft, national blackmail, and cowardice. In savaging the military publicly, who were presumably complicit, Dokubo painted a clear picture of the joke Nigeria has become. What was then more perplexing is that weeks after this monumental indictment, Dokubo is still walking a free man and still running his delusional shows, and the Nigerian Presidency is yet to officially react.
Dokubo did not stop there, he went further to celebrate his exploits in clearing the nest of bandits and terrorists, and freeing up the Abuja-Kaduna road. According to him, his mercenaries were responsible for clearing the insurgents from that strategic artery. Right there in the state house, he mocked the Nigerian army and dared them to contradict him. The truth is that, if that bizarre press conference had not happened, many Nigerians wouldn’t have known that Asari had his own private army in Nigeria.
Before now, what many probably knew was that Dokubo had a few renegades who he used for his personal safety. A few months ago, a video clip of a certain military training camp run by Dokubo as its leader went viral on social media. Many Nigerians who saw it were left astounded at how a private citizen, and more so, a known agitator against the state, was able to run such a camp with state security agencies looking away.
That press conference has now laid to rest those confusions. Nigerians now know that the Asari Dokubo security forces do not only exist in reality, but they have also now overtaken the military and police in some critical security tasks across the country. Indeed, Nigeria is a weird place!
While boasting to Nigerians that his private army was actively on duty in six states in the country, Dokubo failed to tell Nigerians the truth. He failed to tell Nigerians that most of the gun incidents that have continued to intermittently happen in several parts of the South-East, which are often blamed on secessionists, are actually the handiwork of his boys. While the army is busy chasing and labelling agitators in the region, Dokubo and his bunch of ill-hearted gunmen have continued to unleash terror on the people he has openly threatened with terror.
In a video that went viral on social media over the last week, Asari Dokubo was seen bragging about how his ancestors sold the Igbo during the days of the slave trade and how he would have been selling Igbo had the British not intervened with colonisation. He summarised his shameful diatribe with a threat, by saying that if provoked, he would go after the Igbo, one after the other to eliminate them. Ordinarily, such noise-making wouldn’t have instigated mass apprehension among Igbos, but for a man who just announced that he owns and runs a personal army in Nigeria, those comments are concerning.
Still at the Villa, Dokubo was evidently still revelling in the excitement of the rare opportunity he got to display idiocy on national television, Dokubo announced that he had advised President Tinubu not to release the leader of the Indigenous People of Biafra (IPOB), Nnamdi Kanu. Kanu has been in the custody of the Department of State Services (DSS) ever since he was extra-ordinarily renditioned from Kenya in June 2021. In Dokubo’s words: ‘Releasing Nnamdi Kanu is rewarding criminality and rewarding gruesome murder of innocent people. He should face the law for the actions and instigations he carried out… His release would fuel impunity. During EndSARS, Nnamdi Kanu was walking free. What did he do? He poured gasoline on the flames of ENDSARS. Now, he has been caught. What of the people who have died? This is a criminal. He should face the law.’
That statement will only leave sane Nigerians wondering where Dokubo acquired the guts, temerity, and audacity to utter those words. Perhaps, he seemed to have forgotten his own antecedents and personal history as a human being. Dokubo was a man who gained prominence as a freedom fighter after he promoted himself as the defender of the rights of the marginalised people of the Niger Delta. He was a prominent figure in the Niger Delta struggle for self-determination, as President of the Ijaw Youth Council (IYC) and later as founder and leader of the Niger Delta People’s Volunteer Force (NDPF). He was the ‘General of Generals’, Lord of the Creeks, who became a folk hero and a champion among his people. He was involved in direct action on behalf of his people—the Kaiama Declaration, Operation Climate Change, resource control, and self-determination.
Many people will recall how Dokubo and his men took on the Nigerian state and fought it, making life and business near-impossible for the oil multinationals operating in the Niger Delta. In effect, oil production activities in the Niger Delta dropped. Dokubo himself will recall that in 2007, he was arrested and charged with treason before he was eventually released. It is important to highlight these issues to Dokubo to enable him to draw parallels from this piece of history, perhaps, he will discover that he has the same trajectory as the man whose head he is now demanding. In search of oil pipeline maintenance contracts, Dokubo has filled up his brain with sawdust and is willing to go to any length to assert his stupidity, even if it means destroying everything he once stood for. Perhaps, in Dokubo’s small mind, if High Chief Government Ekpemukpolo who he probably considers his ‘boy’ in street parlance has a similar contract, then why shouldn’t he hustle for one for himself?
Going forward, the Nigerian state must be reminded that it cannot make any meaningful progress with charlatans like Asari Dokubo openly threatening people and brandishing assault rifles. If the situation in the country must be arrested frontally, then characters like Dokubo must be arrested and made to stay behind bars. The country must be restructured to reduce the skirmishes at the highly contradicting centre to ensure that people like Dokubo are locally dealt with without constituting a nuisance around the country.