Operation Crocodile Smile And Niger Delta Restiveness
The Nigerian Army recently announced an operation in the Niger Delta it said is designed to enhance the capability of its personnel in the Amphibious Brigade. The exercise is curiously code named ‘Operation Crocodile Smile’. The Chief of Army Staff, Lt. Gen. Tukur Buratai, who spoke about the operation, said it became necessary following the unrest in the oil-rich region characterized by bombing of oil pipelines by militants, kidnappings, cult-related killings and other sundry crimes.
Immediately the announcement was made by the Army Chief, the questions many started asking was: does the crocodile smile? Many have heard about the adage: ‘crocodile tears’; and not ‘crocodile smile’. A crocodile is a dangerous amphibious animal and when it bares its fangs, it isn’t smiling. Rather, it is baying for the blood of its prey.This has led to the conclusion, rightly or wrongly, that the recent mass deployment of troops to the Niger Delta region for ‘Operation Crocodile Smile’portends grave danger for the inhabitants of the region.
Although there is need for military presence in the region to check the spike in bombing of oil and gas installations and oil theft, the military must keep to the rules of engagement in their conduct to prevent collateral damage involving innocent civilians that do not have anything to with the violence in the region. The military deployment became necessary when it appeared that the dialogue option with the militants, especially the deadly and rampant Niger Delta Avengers, wasn’t going to work. Now that the Federal Government and some of the militants are talking, we expect that others will tag along to ensure lasting peace in the region.
Those still flexing muscles and planning to declare Niger Delta Republic by 1 October this year should have a rethink to avert the dire consequences that may follow such an audacious and seditious move. Declaration of a republic within a republic is a serious affront no government worth its name will treat with kid gloves. The travails of Nnamdi Kanu, founder of Radio Biafra and Indigenous People of Biafra (IPOB), are the result of the secessionist agenda of IPOB and his relentless desire to actualise that agenda. Ralph Uwazuruike and his Movement for the Actualisation of the Sovereign State of Biafra (MASSOB) have been on this journey for over a decade with blood, sorrow and tears trailing the activities of MASSOB.
The region is the goose that lays the golden egg. That is why the unrest there, which has led to a sharp drop in oil output in the last few months, is of serious concern to the Federal Government. Going forward, only dialogue will bring about lasting peace. The militants and the military should not do anything that will trigger the kind of devastation witnessed in the North-Eastern part of the country where humanitarian crisis caused by the Boko Haram insurgency is yet to be fully addressed.