N’ Delta militants are my friends, says this Dutch whose wife is Isoko

  • Sunday, March 30, 2008 - By PATRICK ASONYE
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Azte De-Vries
 Azte De-Vries
 
• ‘Dem sabi me well well’

He came to Nigeria over 20 years ago. Ever since, Azte De-Vries has fallen in love with everything Nigeria. Ranging from its food, climate and - wait for it – women, the Dutch has fallen head over heels. To the extent that he has totally forgotten the pretty girls back home in Holland. Which is why Azte took an Isoko woman for wife. And together, they have three kids.

Azte, to many a Dutch, might be taking a great risk working in the creeks of the volatile Niger Delta region. Fear is, he might be a target of the militants who in recent years have made abduction of foreign nationals their stock in trade.

But, you bet, Azte isn’t losing sleep one bit. Unlike other foreign nationals who work in the Niger Delta, he even looks forward to encountering the boys.

In a recent encounter with Sunday Sun at the site of Ibom Dockyard in Ikot Abasi, Akwa Ibom State, where he heads the technical crew of the boat building company, Azte declared that he isn’t scared of the militants.
Hear him: “Militants? I don’t fear them. Let them come now; I neither take their oil nor destroy their environment; so why should I fear them? If anything, they should respect and court my friendship after all I build boats, which they need to move around in the creek. Let them come now,” he boasted with a tinge of Pidgin English in his tone.

A man obviously at home with his immediate environment, Azte declares with excitement, “those boys can’t do anything to me. They’re my friends, I know them and they know me too. Look, let me tell you, they’ll find my services very useful (laughter). Yes now, lived in Warri for years and they know me very well.”

In Nigeria, Azte is just cool. Given his job schedule (and that much he admitted), “no European lady would follow you to come and live here and feel comfortable. To even marry one and keep in Europe while you are here, that marriage won’t also work. That is why I took a wife here. So you can see why they (militants) won’t target me because I am their in-law,” he said.

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