A fish does not know that it is wet until it is brought out of the water. Rumuekpe community in Emohua Local government Area of Rivers State used to be a free and calm area for visitors and neighbors. But the influx of cultism and the pursuit of quick wealth presented an opportunity for scams to thrive. Rumuekpe became known as a hideout for criminals & cult group.
In 1995, the former royal highness, Mr. Luvinus Ogbara embezzled the sum of ten million naira given to him by the Shell Petroleum Development Commission for developments in the community. Hence, he was asked to step down but he refused. Instead, he bought the minds of some people by given them bribes. However, the villagers choose another royal highness in the person of Augustine Akamenwo but there was a serious disagreement among the villagers on the day of his coronation. So for ten years, Mr. Ogbara remained the royal highness.
In 2005, Mr. S.K. Agala and Otamini Agala, came up with their own agitation and carried out strategic dethronements of the village chiefs and elders who were supporting Mr. Friday Edu, who has been the youth president for about 15 years. This had a diverstating effect on the old government (Friday Edu) and this led to the first offensive operations from the last village (Omoviri) by the old government, which claimed two lives (Chioma Egbe and Emperor).
A reprisal attack by Mr. Reason Agala and his group on Friday Edu and his boys resulted in members of the community fleeing as refugees to nearby communities of Ndele, Rumuji, Elele-Ailmini etc. According to investigations, an avoidable crisis which started mundanely as a youth leadership misunderstanding, the basic interest of which was based on who controls proceeds due the community from the various oil companies has escalated as it has infested every other member of the Rumuekpe community beyond the youths.
This crisis has remained untackled and has continued to fuel cycles of violence.
According to a survey recently released, report says that the cost of living in these neighboring communities is high. Most especially, the tackling of hunger has become a prominent issue because women do not have equal access to agricultural resources with their host. The little they get too, are being spent on children’s health and nutrition. This has also forced parents to take their children, especially girls, out of school and into the workforce to supplement scare household incomes. At this time also, more women and girls migrate away from their parents in search of economic opportunities, unfamiliar with fair labor practices. Many fall prey to human traffickers, who deceive them into situations of forced labor or commercial sexual exploitation.
It is evident, that the challenge of rebuilding societies after war is much more complex and difficult than the task of putting an end to fighting. Solutions cannot be imported; peace has to be built by the people themselves but they cannot do it alone. The Federal government, State government and local government can and must help them to consolidate peace and overcome the legacies of war.
If this does not happen, local conflicts will resume, again and again, threatening to destabilize larger regions, undermining development and devaluing hope for the future.
NATIONAL OPEN UNIVERSITY OF NIGERIA
DEPARTMENT OF MASS COMMUNICATION
08068912937 OR [email protected]