Why I Dumped Priesthood For Arms Struggle – Ex Militant Leader


If your community, 10 decades ago, precisely in 1950 before you’re born was sub-merged by ocean and the people managed to find small area to exist, if that small place was later fragmented into three communities and one was later wiped out by the same ocean; what will you do? Absolutely nothing. The forces are beyond what any human could comprehend.
Then come multi-national oil firms. The Chevron/Texaco, the Conoil etc with over 264 oil wells dotted around the area; yet the community still remains the same with the ocean still threatening. Nobody is thinking of bailing the people out. All that matters to them is the crude oil prospection and exploitation at the detriment of the people.
Federal, state and local governments, all have benefited from this oil but the community is contending with lack of educational and health facilities, no potable water, no road and no electricity.
This is just precisely the fate of Koluama clan in Southern Ijaw local government area of Bayelsa State. This indeed prompted a man of God , a pastor in the Vineyard of the Lord to carry arms in his quest to liberate his people.
“Ex-General” Pastor Reuben Wilson, from Koluama, adduced these considerations as his reasons for joining in the armed struggle to salvage his community and by extension the Niger Delta region, from “criminal neglect” of the larger Nigerian nation.
Pastor Wilson an ordained pastor of the white garment church, who is the leader of Movement for the Emancipation of Niger Delta (MEND) in the Koluama axis said even the advent of Niger Delta Development Commission (NDDC) did not help, because the agency did not site any single project in my area.
According to him, apart from the 264 oil wells field, the “Agbanu” is believed to be the biggest oil field in West Africa and the “Apoi” oil field are all within the territory of “my community”.
He declared, 1` we have persistently complained to the authorities without respond. “My people are not happy, I am not happy, so when the opportunity came, we joined the struggle on-masse.
“Ex-General” Wilson said, he has faith in President Yar’Adua to fulfill his promise before he decided to lay down his arms. “Mr. President is a man of his words. Personally I have no reason to doubt him after our meeting at Abuja”.
What if the Federal Government fails on its promise? The ex-militant said: “for me I don’t think I will take up arms again. I will give peace a chance but there are others still in the creeks who will like to fight. For me, it is all over. We are watching”.
“Let me also inform you that what Federal Government promised cannot be done in one day, it may take up to three years for the projects to come through. So we should exercise some patience.
We have already decided to embrace peace, even though the oil companies, especially chevron is not helping matters. When you approach them for anything, they will say, “we are dealing with government and we have paid money to them. It’s government that will take care of your problems. These are the things that made us angry”.
The situation now in the community is lack of social amenities, no jobs for the youths. Koluama has the highest number of graduates in Southern Ijaw. Many of them are jobless. “Even my younger brother, who was among those they trained in Maritime Academy, Norway is at home without job but now that there is promise to address the issues, we shall wait”.
Asked what happened to his organisation. The MEND, Pastor Wilson said, “there is no more MEND. The real leaders of the body such as Tompolo, Farah, Ateke and Boyloaf have all embraced amnesty. Those claiming that MEND still exists and can attack are trying to cause trouble. Any person who carries out any attack should be arrested. For us, we shall no longer fight. Our faces are everywhere, our fingerprints are everywhere. “He continued: Jomo Gbomo is anonymous name. Nobody is called by that name. Any person who called himself “Gbomo” or claimed to be a militant should be arrested and regarded as a criminal”.
But how does Wilson combine armed struggle and that of pastorship. It is an inspiration from divine authority which is beyond human understanding. “I am a prophet in the church”, and for a prophet’s anger to rise to the point of carrying arms, then it is really serious and intolerable. When I saw the condition of my community and nobody was ready to do something, I carried arms”.
However before any operation, we pray to God and God had been very kind to us. That is why unlike others, we did not kill. I did not kill. We fought against oil companies. We put off their fires but we did not kill. If anything like that happened, it must have been by mistake. We never intended to kill anybody”
“Ex-General” Wilson has no reason to be afraid of going back to his community because while he was a militant, he did not insult or molest any member of the community. “My mode of operations attracted a very large followership.”
The chiefs, elders, CDC members cherished me. I was not greedy, I shared whatever I have with them. So why should they be scared. They cannot because I risk my life for them”.
Having repented and promised not to carry arms again, Pastor Wilson said while in the creek, he had all he wanted, saying that he is capable of taking care of himself. “I want to live a normal life”. They are now paying my boys N1,500 daily for feeding and then N20,000 a month. The same thing that I am receiving. However, this is not enough to take care of myself and family. I need a steady job even being a contractor will not be bad.
“I should be given surveillance job. This is important so that some of the boys could be engaged in safe guarding the oil installations in my area”.
The ex-militant leader was full of praises for the Bayelsa State Governor, Chief Timipre Sylva, the co-ordinator of the Amnesty Deal, Air Vice Marshall Victor Ararile, for their successful implementation of the programmes.
But for those still carrying arms in the creeks, Wilson advised them to note that armed struggle does not pay. “You will never enjoy whatever you make in the creeks. There, you spent your money because you cannot come out. I have passed through that stage. I was in the creeks for three years, within that period, I couldn’t even see my wife”.
He appealed to Governor Sylva and the chairman of the state’s Peace and Conflict Resolution Committee that they should carry everybody along without saying this leader is more powerful than the other so that the present peace would be sustained.
The ex-militant leader also pleaded that those arrested in the course of the struggle should be released in line with the spirit of amnesty.
“One of my brothers, Digenni Osaisai, who is being held at Kuje Prison, Abuja. There are also others arrested at Egbema-Angalabiri like Natty and many others.
“I’m pleading with President Yar’Adua, his vice, Goodluck Jonathan, to please release them in the new spirit of forgiveness and furthering the peace process now existing in the Niger Delta, “Ex-General” Pastor Reuben Wilson declared.