NIGER DELTA YOUTH GROUP, OBOLO YOUTH COALITION RAISES STRONG OBJECTION TO INCLUDE LAGOS, BAUCHI STATES TO NIGER DELTA DEVELOPMENT COMMISSION, NDDC
…. says action is provocative, attempt to divert development of Niger Delta.
A frontline youth group in the Niger Delta Region of Nigeria, the Obolo Youth Coalition Worldwide has rejected the proposed moves by the National Assembly to amend the Act that established the Niger Delta Development Commission (NDDC), to accommodate Bauchi, Lagos and Ogun States into the Commission.
President General of Obolo Youth Coalition Worldwide, IJONAMA MKPON AMON advised Nigerian Senators to jettison the amendment process, contending that the move was ill-intentioned and greedily mischievous.
The Obolo Youth leader, IJONAMA MKPON AMON described the action of the Senators as an attempt to subjugate the minorities of the core Niger Delta Region and called on the Federal Government and the National Assembly members to shun the idea to tinker the NDDC Act.
IJONAMA MKPON AMON made the position of the youths known in an
“OPEN LETTER TO THE SENATE PRESIDENT, SENATOR AHMAD IBRAHIM LAWAN” and made available to Brave Views News.
The controversial Bill, tagged: “Bill For An Act To Amend The NDDC Act”; was sponsored by Senator OLAMILEKAN ADEOLA of the All Progressives Congress (APC), representing Lagos West Senatorial District.
However, in the open latter, IJONAMA condemned the bill in strong terms, describing it further, as sadly ill-conceived, malicious, diversionary and a show of shallow understanding of the essence and coverage of the NDDC as well as a display of lack of direction and knowledge of effective legislative functions by the sponsor of the Bill and others supporting it.
He said: “The Bill is a clear-cut move to completely usurp and divert the mandate of the NDDC in developing the Niger Delta area.
This move is not just unduly provocative but a sterling show of misplacement of legislative priorities, emanating from very covetous, selfish, sectional and parochial considerations over national cohesion, institutional functions and social justice and equity”.
The President of Obolo Youth Coalition, Worldwide, marshalled out some points to justify his arguments, when he went Memory Lane about the Nigerian Delta Region.
He said “The NDDC is not a league of crude oil-producing States that any State that discovers or produces crude oil would be co-opted as a member-state. It is not an organization of Petroleum Producing States” !
“The Collins English Dictionary defines “Delta” as “…an area of low flat land shaped like a triangle, where a river splits and spreads out into several branches before entering the sea.”
“There are over 30 deltas in the world, one of which is the Niger Delta.
“Map A as shown above is the satellite image of the entire Niger Delta as taken by National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA).
“It is noteworthy that River Niger which is the parent river, empties into the Atlantic Ocean through its major tributaries of River Forcados, (in Delta State), River Nun (in Bayelsa State) and Rivers Orashi and Sombreiro, both in Rivers State).
“Historically, geographically and cartographically, the Niger Delta area therefore is confined in the present-day Bayelsa, Delta and Rivers States. However, the then administration of President Olusegun Obasanjo, in creating the NDDC (and for obvious political reasons) considered the very proximate estuaries and rivers very close to the core Niger Delta capture area, including River Benin (in Edo State), River Imo (flowing from Imo State through Abia State, Akwa Ibom State and into the Atlantic Ocean via River State), River Calabar (in Cross Rivers State), etc. as shown on MAP B above, to add the following States of Cross River, Akwa Ibom, Abia, Edo and Ondo into the NDDC.
“The subsequent addition of the other 6 States that are very proximate to the States of the core Niger Delta area to make it the 9-States status that it currently is, is aside political consideration, slightly meritorious and understandable because they are narrowly impacted by the Niger Delta and to the corollary, also have some of the peculiar terrain of the low-land, brackish, saline and freshwater swamps and wetlands that require special developmental attention, which in addition to being marginal crude oil-producing States, necessitated the creation of the NDDC as a special interventionist commission to focus on addressing the peculiar developmental challenges of this special needs area.
“Besides these, any other State in Nigeria as it is today does not qualify as a State within the Niger Delta area.
“The purported discovery of petroleum (even if production commences as well) in Alkaleri Local Government Area of Bauchi State, Badagry in Lagos State and Ipokia in Ogun State does not transform these said areas into Niger Delta and to the corollary, would not translate into infusing these States into the NDDC, a Commission statutorily created to address the peculiar developmental challenges of the specifically stated Niger Delta Region”.
*MAJOR ETHNIC GROUPS VS NIGER DELTA*
The move through this Bill or any other means seeking to bring the NDDC under unrelated areas to the Niger Delta should be massively condemned by all.
“It is worthy of recall that the unbridled and inordinate ambition and unhidden exhibition of unconscionable scheming and ulterior motives of the major ethnic groups of Nigeria to balkanize and subjugate the minority ethnic groups of the natural-resources-endowed core Niger Delta area right from the colonial era of the country instilled a strong sense of reasonable fear and apprehension in the minority groups of the core Niger Delta area and spurred the vehement demand by leaders from the minority groups of the area for measures to safeguard and protect them and their environments, lands, waters, resources and general interests against the wanton and unholy strategies of the majority groups.
*NIGER DELTA AS HOME TO MINORITY GROUPS IN NIGERIA*
The Niger Delta area is traditionally home to several minority groups of the country but ironically, is also the hub that holds the natural resources that produce over 90% of the revenue of the country for several decades now but unfortunately suffers continued neglect and economic strangulation at the instance of the dominant ethnic groups.
*STRUGGLE TO EMANCIPATE NIGER DELTA DATES BACK TO COLONIAL ERA*
“The challenges of developing the core Niger Delta area coupled with the need to protect them from enslavement and domination is cardinal issue dating back to colonial era.
The long-standing real and imminent fear, apprehension and demand by the minorities from the colonial authorities for safeguard measures to protect them against majority domination before granting independence to Nigeria resulted in the presenting of their case at the London Conference of 1958, the eventual setting up of the Willinks Commission and the subsequently creation of the Niger Delta Development Board (NDDB) at Section 159 of the Independence Constitution to allay the fears and apprehension domination and underdevelopment of the area while milking the area out to extract the national cake.
The Headquarters of the NDDC was initially located at Lagos where the majority groups exerted dominance over its affairs and a new struggle was initiated by the minorities for the relocation of the Headquarters of the NDDB to the Niger Delta area and after long, it was eventually relocated to Port Harcourt.
Unfortunately, upon independence, the subsequent Constitutions, through the overbearing influence of the majority groups of the country, totally repealed the NDDB from the Constitutions.
This exacerbated and further compounded the lack of trust by the minority groups of the Niger Delta in the majority groups and sparked yet another long struggle for the protection and development of the Niger Delta and some subsequent military administration created the ‘Niger Basin Sentiment Commission’
before the civilian administration of Chief OLUSEGUN OBASANJO created the NDDC and subsequently, the Ministry of Niger Delta was created.
In essence, the challenges of effectively addressing the peculiar developmental requirements and minority protection of the Niger Delta region and its people precedes and overrides mere crude oil production status of the area.
It is not also an elite association of crude oil-bearing or producing states for the Bill sponsored by Senator Adeola to sail through.
One would more reasonably expect that while the long history of the struggles and interventionists efforts of the nation towards the region are yet to yield the much-needed results.
The National Assembly members should in the genuine interest of nation-building at this very critical stage in the history of our nation, fashion out effective and functional legislative ways to ensure the workability of the NDDC as it is; especially with the stalled leadership crisis rocking the Commission where it is being led by Sole Administrators as against the provisions in the Act creating the NDDC; as well as the refusal to publish the much anticipated Report of the Forensic Audit of the NDDC.
It is just saddening that the majority groups still covetously target the balkanization, bastardization and plundering of the Niger Delta Region and its minority groups just to feed fat on its resources and to plough back any meagre fund aside for the development of the area through interventionist bodies like the NDDC by all ruses and ploy, including the current attempt to get these States that are unrelated to the Niger Delta to be members of the NDDC so as to surreptitiously hijack it in its entirety through majority influence and control.
The Obolo Youth Coalition staunchly opposes this move and calls for its instant withdrawal in the interest of fairness and equity to the Niger Delta Region”.