The Niger Delta


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The Niger Delta: Today, Yesterday and Tomorrow



Senator David O. Dafinone


I am deeply honoured to address this August assembly of your excellenceies,
traditional rulers, and distinguished ladie sand gentlemen.

Before commencing my lecture, let me pay this short tribute to the life and
works of - Late Dr.. Clement Isong:

"You were no king but had a large kingdom than kings of emissaries and
missionaries. You clutched to your chest the lugubrious gifts of your people
so that they would not lose their blessing for lack of foresight in the native
sky; you saw through granite clouds a resplendent sun, and you slept less and
less to cover the landscape of a destined mission. And when news broke of your
death, an iroko struck by lightning, the world collapsed in gried; women
abandoned their chores, men their work, and children their play and laughter;
all to wail, "Isong's gone, who'll stand for us in the Union of Niger Delta?
They questioned their dumbfounded fate."

May his soul rest in perfect peace, Amen.

The above short poem depicts the void we have been left with in the Niger
Delta with the passing away of Dr. Clement Isong. This tribute also apploes to
the following - Chief Mukoro Mowoe, Chief Festus Okotie-Eboh, Chief
Omo-Osagie, Professor Eyo-Ita and Ken Saro-Wiwa, all of blessed memories, who
were all illustrious sons of the Niger Delta.

A. Introduction

(i) Since the collapse of the electoral process of June 12, 1993, the Nigerian
Polity has been subjected to severe strains and convulsions that continue to
threaten the survivability of the federation. There has not been any
significant qualitative change in the conduct of public policy by the federal,
state and local government administrations. Neither has the government of
President Olusegun Obasanjo instituted any sustainable plan to protect and
guarantee the virtues of federalism. The current structure of Nigerian
federalism represents centralism rather than federalism. It is similar to a
reincarnation of soviet federalism that constitutionally defines the polity as
a federal state, by depicts the supposedly federating units as mere
administrative arms of the central government. Consider the following:

a. The powers of the Federal Government to create states.

b. The powers of the Federal Government to create local governments.

c. The exclusive federal jurisdiction over mineral resources (policy,
licensing, exploration, exploitation, development, and marketing).

It is instructive to note that the exclusive federal jurisdiction over natural
resources apply only to oil and gas, and not to cocoa, palm oil, hides and
skins, bitumen, etc.

We may need to remind ourselves about the concept of federalism. As a system
of government with more than one level of government (a central, state and
local governments), the federating units, i.e., the state governments exercise
independent jurisdiction within their defined territories. These federating
units are not subordinate to the central government. Simply put, "a federation
is the coming together of different entities for the good of all but not the
loss of their respective independence." Why do nations federate? We argue that
they decide." Why do nations federate? We argue that they decide to federation
of one or a combination of the following persons:

1. Socio-Economic

2. Political

3. Security

A nation decides to federate for socio-economic reasons because it:

(a) possesses shared values with other federating units;

(b) wants an access to a larger domestic market;

(c) wants a secured access to a sea port;

(d) seeks access to a higher standard of living; and

(e) would like to enhance the welfare policies of its citizens.

Politically, it decides to federate in order to

(a) strengthen existing relations with its co-federating units;

(b) possess a stronger voice internationally; and

(c) be able to protect itself from real or an imagined threat to its national

The above factors must have influenced Nigerians to agree to establish the
Nigerian federation in 1960, instead of going their separate ways when they
attained their respective independence in 1957 (Western and Eastern Nigeria)
and 1959 (northern Nigeria). Events leading to 1960 clearly demonstrated that
while the North did not want to federate, both the East and the west argued
for a federation. Each subsequent federating unit could have opted for their
separate independent states in 1957 and 1959 respectively. It was a British
colonially inspired federation which, ironically, the North did not want to be
part of.

Many Nigerian scholars have lamented the Lugardian amalgamation of 1914 that
established modern Nigeria. they argued that it was a mistake, and that it
marked the beginning of Nigeria's problems. I strongly disagrees. the mistake
was the failure of the south to chart its own independent part after 1957. The
East and the west failed to realize the hollowness of colonial federations and
were perhaps motivated by other considerations. It is interesting to note that
the citizens of another British colonial federation (the Federation of
Rhodesia and Nyasaland) had the foresight to recognize the pitfalls of such a
federation and wisely opted for the independence of their respective
countries, the present day Zambia, Zimbabwe, and Malawi. While the political
leaders of Western and Eastern Nigeria fought for the establishment of a
Nigerian federation, it is significant to stress that their successors have
lost control of the powers to renew and restructure the federation in order
tor recapture the intent of their predecessors. They are now clamouring for a
return to the 1963 Republican Constitution, if they cannot revert to 1957.
What an irony of History.

Nigerians fought a bitter civil war to safeguard the federation, but the
current federal system does not seem to possess glue to keep the federating
units from clamouring for change. The need to restructure Nigerian federalism
has never been greater. The National Democratic Coalition (NADECO), which
emerged in the post June 12, 1993 days, has placed the concept of a Sovereign
National Conference on the political agenda of the country. According to
NADECO, a Sovereign national Conference would afford Nigerian nationalities an
opportunity to meet, discuss and resolve on the type of Nigeria they want to
construct. This view became a central position of the Alliance for Democracy
(AD), one of the three registered political parties that contested the
elections of the 1998/99 that led to the current civilian administration of
President Obasanjo. The Yoruba ethnic group of Nigeria's southwestern region,
is the chief proponent of this position. Thus, it could be said that the
Yorubas have defined themselves vis-a-vis the future political structure of
Nigeria. Subsequent publications of various pan-Yoruba organizations have
amplified this viewpoint. The main thesis of a Sovereign National Conference
is for the restructuring of Nigeria along the basis of the true principles of
federalism. This presupposes that the current federal structure of Nigeria is
not federal in form and content.

The current Nigerian federal system is highly centralized. As well as know, a
highly centralized federal system does harm to the polity. It is a
quasi-federal system that could lead to a unitary system. The two levels of
citizenship - state and federal - and entangled in perpetual conflicts as the
federal government and the federating units fail to agree on vital issues of
interest to the federal polity. Thus, the inability of Nigeria's federal
government to equitably relate to the federating units could give rise to
centrifugal forces with potential to destabilize the federal polity. There is
an urgent need to restructure the Nigerian federal system.

Various Igbo organizations have given credence to the demand for restructuring
Nigeria. In their arguments, Ndigbo has called for a confederal as opposed to
a federal structure for Nigeria. thus, in their view, if a Sovereign National
Conference is held, the Igbo would only be interested in a confederation of
Nigeria and not in any renewed federalism. In dialectical terms, the Yoruba
and Igbo have adopted conflicting positions on their agreed notions of

This unity and struggle of opposites is a vital determinant of social change.
The critical issue is how and where the pendulum of power will swing. Will it
swing in favour of a confederation or a renewed true federalism.

But what is a confederation? It is assumed that a significant proportion of
Nigerians, by their historical experience, know what a federation is. We may
disagree on its properties. Though it is not necessarily an antipode of
federalism, a confederation differs substantially from federation in key
elements of the jurisdictions of the confederating units. Simply put,
confederal units retain all attributes of statehood and independence, except
in two areas: defence and foreign policy, where they agree to exercise their
jurisdictions via a coordinating organ of power. For example, they each would
contribute a given number of military divisions and personnel to defend the
confederation. But each will retain complete jurisdictions on other areas,
including foreign trade and investments, natural resources, etc. Unlike a
federation, in a confederal state each confederating unit is a subject of
international law. In political terms, a confederation is the half way house
to the disintegration of a federal polity. Nevertheless, this is the proposal
of Ndigbo. It defines their perception of contemporary Nigeria, and is perhaps
the product of their historical experience over the past four decades. they
are comfortable with this position.

The view of the northern political class is strongly opposed to both
propositions emanating from the Yoruba and Igbo groups. It is interesting to
note that President Obasanjo and a majority of memebrs of the National
Assembly are also opposed to these propositions. In their view, any discussion
of a renewed federalism must take place in the House of representatives and
Senate. This position is based on the eh premise that only elected officials
can discuss and dictate the modalities of change in the polity. This is a
dangerous thesis.

The events of the past seven years would argue against a monopoly of power and
authority by elected officials.

(ii) Restructuring of the Country - Position of the Union of Niger Delta

The Union is of the view that the concept of a 6 zonal political structure for
the country should be embarked upon as a matter of priority. It recalled that
the idea was first mooted in the year 1912 by Major Temple, the then Lt.
governor of Northern Protectorate. It also noted that this concept
subsequently formed the basis for the creation of 6 additional States by
General Abacha in 1996.

The Union further affirmed that the operation of the existing 36 States
structure has escalated the cost of governance and equally leaves the Federal
Republic of Nigeria with little or no funds to carry out capital projects in
the field of infrastructure, water supply, drainage system, food, security,
housing, education, health and unemployment upon which the welfare of the
people depends.

(iii) True Federalism

The Union endorses the establishment of true federalism in the country and
hereby demand for a 100% resource control by the ethnic nationalities with
appropriate tax paid to the Federal Government as it is the practice all over
the world and in particular the United States of America. The Union equally
maintains that the Continental Shelf belongs to the ethnic nationalities
adjoining it, and as such, all resources derivable from the Continental Shelf
belong to those ethnic nationalities. There should be no distinction between
offshore and onshore in the sharing of oil revenue.

B. The Niger Delta: Where we are

(i) Socio-economic

Niger Delta has suffered gross neglect and deprivation over the years despite
its enormous contribution to the economic prosperity of the Country. As a
result of this utter neglect, there is widespread poverty, complete lack of
social and economic infrastructure and lack of basic utilities. There is high
rate of unemployment and crime. This state of affairs has in turn bred a
frustrated population, ethnic polarization, communal suspicion,
anti-establishment agitation and hostility, all of which create instability
and impede development.

(ii) Political

Niger Delta people, more than any other group, have suffered undue political
manipulation, intimidation, victimization, oppression and injustice without
due regard to their loyalty, support and contribution to the Nigerian nation.
For instance, the sitting of the Delta State capital at Asaba remains a
nagging problem for the indigenes of the state and in particular the
inhabitants of the riverine ommunities whose interest was not taken into
consideration when the decision was taken. It takes the inhabitants of some
riverine communities between two and three days and at exorbitant cost to get
to Asaba from these communities.

In addition the state in the region has the least number of the Local
Government areas in the Federation in spite of sufficient reason to the
contrary to create more. The unresolved issue of the creation of Local
government Areas in Warri and in Bayelsa state which accommodates the largest
Local Government area in the Federation in terms of Land mass are instances
worth of specific mention. This situation has denied the people effective and
adequate representation in government besides being oppressed when considering
the sharing of national revenue, spread of infrastructure, federal goodwill
and largesse.

(iii) Obnoxious Laws

Obnoxious and unjust laws in the Country's Statute such as the Land Use act
1978, the Petroleum Act 1969 (as amended), Land title Vesting Decree 1993,
National Inland Waterways Authority Decree 1997 and the Mineral Act, amongst
others, have been used to deprive the Niger Delta of its inalienable rights to
its land and resources. The said laws have divested the people and communities
in this region, of their natural title to ownership and the control and
management of their lands and resources amongst other negative consequences.
As a result, the people have not only been impoverished but have been left
without the requisite economic empowerment.

(iv) Environmental

Besides poverty, environmental abuse and degradation are the greatest threat
to the survival of the people of the Niger Delta. The unceasing wide spread
gas flaring, oil spillage, corrosion and leakage from pipelines, flooding,
erosion and salt water incursion have taken their ugly toll on the social and
economic lives of the people of the Niger Delta. Further, the uncaring and
unsustainable pile exploration and exploitation methods adopted by oil
companies in the region have resulted in a pandemic loss of biodiversity,
econological destabilization and substantial reduction in aquatic lives. In
particular, the agricultural lands have been rendered unproductive while the
fishing industry has been destroyed. There are several studies in this area
which confirm this position among which are those of the Niger Delta
Environmental Survey (NDES) and other experts.

(v) Infrastructure

Infrastructure is virtually non existent in the Niger Delta region. There is a
virtual lack of utilities such as all season roads, safe drinking water,
electricity, telecommunications, housing, transportation, health and
educational facilities in the Niger Delta. Besides, the National Power grid
has not been extended to most parts of the region while flooding and erosion
are endemic. This state of affairs has considerably impeded the prospects for
the economic development of the region.

(vi) Oil and Gas

The exclusion of Niger Delta communities in the control and management of the
upstream and downstream operations of the oil industry is disastrous to their
very existence as a people. For instance through the instrumentality of the
Petroleum Act 1969 (as amended and other legislation), the local communities
on whose lands, oil is exploited, have been divested of their entitlements to
their land and the oil produced therefrom. Indigenes of the Niger Delta hardly
ever benefit from the allocation of oil prospecting licenses (OPL) and are
totally excluded from crude oil sales. Yet it is the local communities and
people that directly suffer from oil spillage, gas flaring, acid rain, fire
disaster due to leakage from corroded and broken oil pipelines and
environmental degradation and pollution amongst econogical disasters taking
place in the region.

(vi) Revenue allocation

Over 90% of the national revenue come from sale of oil produced from the Niger
Delta. Yet, the states and Local Governments in the region receive very little
revenue allocation due to the unjust adoption and application of such
principles as land mass, population, primary school enrolment and security as
opposed to such other vital considerations as water mass, ecological problems
and difficulties associated with infrastructural and physical development in a
swampy and marshy terrain like the Niger Delta. A new Revenue allocation
formula is therefore imperative.

(vii) Defence and security services

There are virtually no military and police institutions of significance in the
Niger Delta despite its contribution to the security, stability and continued
existence of Nigeria. Furthermore, the Niger Delta is under-represented in the
armed forces, and the police. Similarly, the Niger Delta is also
under-represented in the Customs, Immigration, Prison and security services.
This situation should be reversed to enable indigenes of the region contribute
their quota to the national defence and security and international peace in

C. Union of Niger Delta: Where we want to be

Remedial measures should, as a matter of urgency, be taken by the Federal
Government and other relevant institutions to address the social, economic and
political injustices to the people of the region, by effecting without delay,
the following but not limited to the options for the emancipation of the
region from its present decadent state of affairs:

(i) Obnoxious Laws

All Obnoxious laws including but not limited to the Land Use Act, 1978, the
Petroleum Act, 1969 (as amended,) Lands (Title Vesting etc.) Decree 1993,
National Inland Waterways Authority Decree 1997, Mineral Act 1990 (as amended)
and Oil Pipelines Act 1990 should be abrogated or appropriately amended in
order to restore and vast the right of control and management of lands and
resources in the Niger Delta in the State Governments in accordance with the
rule of law.

(ii) Oil and Gas

(a) The oil companies operating in the Niger Delta should build bridges with
their host communities in particular and the people of the region in general.
They should locate their headquarters, offices and staff estates within he
communities or areas of their operation. They should adopt an integrated
oil-city/community development approach so that communities within and around
the headquarters/offices will be interated into the infrastructure development
plans of the companies and develop alongside them.

(b) The employment of the indigenes of the region in the oil industry should
be a major policy thrust, upon such establishments as Nigerian National
Petroleum Corporation (NNPC), NAPIMS, Department of Petroleum Resources (DPP)
and the oil companies so as to stem the tide of present unemployment and
exclusion of indigenes in the activities of these establishments. At least 60%
of the membership of the Board of the said establishment and the oil companies
should be reserved for and occupied by indigenes of the Niger Delta. The
Minister of or Adviser on Petroleum Resources should be appointed from among
the indigenes of the Niger Delta.

(c) Gas, which is presently flared, should be conserved and/or developed to
the benefit of the people especially in the much-needed area of electricity
power generation and distribution.

(d) Indigenes of the region should, by affirmative action, be given
opportunity to participate as Stakeholders in the oil industry including joint
ventures, crude oil sales, allocation of oil prospecting licenses (OPL),
allocations and upstream and downstream related business as decided by the
Vision 2010 and the Nigerian Economic Summit Group.

(iii) Agriculture and industry

There should be greater investment in agriculture and the economic and
industrial infrastructure in the Niger Delta. Specifically, the fishing
industry, which is the mainstay of the economy of the region, should be
developed with appropriate technology. Modern fishing ports and terminals
among other structures should be established to facilitate large-scale
commercial fishing, storage and marketing. Manufacturing, petro-chemical, food
processing and computer industries as well as food and cash crop production
should be given priority.

(iv) Education

Priority should be given to the establishment of Polytechnics, Technological,
Agricultural and Medical Universities in the region. New primary and secondary
schools should be established and equipped while existing ones should be
equipped and provided with competent teachers and staff. Federal Government
Colleges should be established in the relevant states in the region.

(v) Defence and security services

Defence and security-training institutions such as Defence Academy, War
Strategic Institute, Police College etc., should be established in Niger
delta. Indigenes of Niger Delta should be admitted into existing military and
police training institutions particularly the Nigerian defence Academy, the
National War College, Staff and Command College and the Police
Colleges/Academy. Serving officers and men from the Niger Delta should be
given the opportunity to advance to the highest offices and positions in the
armed forces and the Nigerian Police Force. Similarly, the people of the Niger
Delta need to be sufficiently represented in the Customs, Immigration, Prison
and the Security Services.

(vi) Institutional Framework: Niger Delta Development Commission Act

Let me aver that the laudable objective of Mr. President has been multilated
by poor drafting and internal wrangling in the legislature who, without a
clear vision, has changed the objective of the Act in the following areas:

(i) Purpose

(ii) Scope

(iii) Funding

(iv) Structure

(vii) Purpose

There is no where in the body of the Act where the purpose of the Commission
is stated. The OMPADEC Decree clearly stated the objective of the decree as

(a) That the Commission will embark upon physical and human development in the
Oil Mineral Producing Communities with the objective of:

(1) Compensating, materially, the Communities, Local Government Areas and
States, which have suffered damage (ecological, environmental, etc.) or
deprivation as a result of mineral oil prospecting in their areas.

(2) Opening up the affected areas and effectively linking them up socially and
economically with the rest of the country by producing various forms of
infrastructural and physical development.

To achieve these objectives, the Communities are advised to:

(a) forge close relationship with the operating oil producing companies in
order to ensure close collaboration in providing welfare and infrastructure
for oil producing communities;

(b) to provide and support schemes aimed at providing security for oil
producing companies;

(c) create or provide an atmosphere of understanding and peaceful co-operation
with the communities in which they operate.

The absence of a clear objective policy has resulted in the Act not reflecting
the principle of Justice, Equity and a level playing field moreso when other
States not in the Niger Delta areas now enjoy access to their derivation

(viii) Scope

The scope of the Act far exceeds the areas of the Niger Delta, which
encompassess the six States in the South-South Zone of Nigeria.

(ix) Funding

The funding of the Niger Delta Development Commission as now conceived leaves
much to be desired.

(x) Structure

The structure of the Commission opens a gateway for corruption as the command
structure in the creation of departments in which the Chief Executive with the
Board initiates projects, awards the contracts and effect the necessary
payments will result, like in the past, in a situation in which the nation is
trapped in the cob web of corruption.

Let me aver therefore that there is need to amend the Act and establish a
structure which exhibits probity, accountability, transparency and equity
between the Government and the various stakeholders which constitute the Niger

It is therefore advocated that the Niger Delta Development Commission Act
should be amended as follows:

(a) Leave the existing Commission as a Holding Company and create therefrom
two companies or corproations namely:

(i) Niger Delta Bank for Reconstruction and Development

(ii) Development Board

The details of the duty and responsibilities of these bodies and other bodies
to be created from them will be expatiated upon if the proposal is accepted.


(i) A need for Niger Delta master plan

There is the need to produce a Master Plan (Niger Delta Development Plan) to
address the long-term development needs of the region.

1. All season roads built with materials suitable to the Niger Delta terrain
should be constructed across the region to link all geographically isolated

2. Complimentarily, improved water transportation should be provided including
the provisions of pontoons to serve islands and geographically isolated
communities in the region.

3. Good and safe drinking water systems with central and sub-central
reserviors, treatment and purification facilities should be provided to serve
communities across the region.

4. Better and well-equipped primary and secondary schools should be provided,
while existing ones should be rehabilitated. Agricultural, medical and
technological oriented universities should be established in relevant states
in the region. The Petroleum Training Institute, Effurun should be well
equipped and up graded to degree awarding status.

5. Federal Teaching hospitals should be established in Bayelsa, Delta and Akwa
Ibom States respectively.

6. Appropriate and efficient irrigation systems should be established to
enable all season farming to take place in the region.

7. Until an internationally certified okay, environmental impact assessment
study of River Niger is done, the River should not be dredged in a hurry.

8. Modern telecommunication facilities should be provided to link communities
in the eh region with other parts of the world.

9. Compensation for and rehabilitation of persons displaced as a result of
current conflicts in the region and also oil and gas related accidents in the
region should be addressed with the urgency it deserves. Specifically, relief
materials should be supplied to the victims of Jesse fire disaster and other
refugees of current conflicts.

10. Adequate scholarship and overseas training should be provided for the
indigenes of the region. In fact, all students of tertiary institutions from
the region should be granted automatic scholarship.

11. Basis health facilities including cottage and general hospitals should be
established equipped and staffed to serve the health needs of the people of
the region.

12. Polluted lands and abandoned oil wells should be cleansed up and restored
for sustainable use.

13. An independent commission of enquiry should be set up to assess, hear and
determine claims arising from spillage and environmental pollution.

14. Existing seaports in Port Harcourt, Sapele, calabar, Burutu and Koko
should be made viable and to enjoy special concession to attract merchant
ships, exporters and importers. Cross River should be dredged to attract
ocean-going vessels.

15. Air and seaports should be established in Baylesa and Akwa Ibom State.

16. Government should as a matter of urgency initiate the process of
developing a 10-year Master Plan for the Niger Delta. Implementation of the
Plan should commence within the first year of the Niger Delta Development

17. A Fishing Terminal and a Refinery each should be established in Bayelsa,
Akwa Ibom and Delta state where shrimps are now produced to promote exports.

18. The oil companies should alter their previous approach of providing modern
facilities for their workers try the neglect of their host communities. Future
developments within the context of the Master Plan will be in terms of
development circles within which the oil companies will provide all essential
infrastructure and utilities both from their resources and funds to be
allocated to the Niger Delta Development Commission.

19. Reforestation in timber, rubber, palm oil and kernels should commence as a
matter of urgency in Edo, Delta, Cross River and Akwa Ibom States.

E. Recommendations

Reconciliation, reconstruction and reorganization

1. The Union calls on all warring parties in the region to lay down their arms
in the interest of peace and to take advantage of the arbitration and
reconciliation efforts, which this conference shall propose and put.

2. The Union calls on the Federal Government to show a change of heart in
matters, which touch upon the sufferings of the people of the Niger Delta. The
people have suffered gravely because their lands constitute the "Breadbasket"
of the country. The petroleum fire disaster at Idjerhe and Mereje and the
Federal Government's attempt to blame its victims and not properly determine
the actual cause is a matter that will haunt Nigerian history forever. The
other tragedies at Ekakpamre, Choba, and Odi to mention some of the most
publicized recent crises created by actions of Nigeria's Federal Government in
the region - and the absence of any appreciable government initiatives,
designed to ease the pain and to soothe the wound of the injured and the
dispossessed, is a vivid testimony of neglect that borders on criminality.

3. Military Forces should be withdrawn from Niger Delta. This conference
should therefore, strongly urge the Federal Government of Nigeria to withdraw
its troops from the Niger Delta and engage the people of the Niger Delta in a
meaningful dialogue to resolve the crises in the region.

4. This Union calls on the Federal Government of Nigeria to institute a
commission of inquiry to investigate all incidents of fires arising from
explosions along the pipelines, and to bring the parties responsible for the
atrocities to justice. The people of the Niger Delta demand that the Federal
Government of Nigeria, as current owners of the oil pipelines, acknowledge its
responsibilities in the disasters that have been visited on the affected
communities. They also demand that adequate compensation be paid for loss of
lives and properties, and that funds be provided to rehabilitate all those
displaced or affected by these tragic events.

5. The Union of Niger Delta is concerned about the growing transportation of
crude oil and gas by means of pipelines within the Niger Delta. It forebodes
grave danger to the people and properties of the region. Maintenance and
protection of these pipelines are severely limited. The transportation of
crude petroleum products by means of poorly maintained and aging pipelines
through populated districts is dangerous and disrespectful to the peoples of
the Niger Delta. The union therefore call upon the Federal Government of
Nigeria and all the State Governments in the region to dialogue with leaders
of the Niger Delta on alternative but safe means of transporting oil and gas
from the Niger Delta.

6. The Union of Niger Delta call on the Federal Government of Nigeria to
convene as quickly as possible a national conference where Nigerians from all
areas of the country can come together to discuss the arrangements under which
they shall continue to live as citizens of one country. These discussions
must, in our view, be based on the premise that the constituent states of the
Nigerians Federation must have exclusive jurisdictions through resource
control over their mineral resources, agriculture, education and culture.

7. The Union of Niger Delta therefore, welcome the inchoate collaborative
efforts of the South-South Governors, as represented by their recent meeting.
Their initiatives, in our view, will make for a more united, and hence a
stronger South, a strength that will indubitably serve the South well in the
unfolding economic and political evolution of Nigeria. This evolutation must
lead ultimately to the redistribution of powers to the constituent states of
the Federation as the only real hope for the survival of the Nigerian State.

8. The Union of Niger Delta is aware of the proposals of The Patriots that the
Nigerian Federation should be divided into six zones. It concurs with the view
that these proposals will lead to the redistribution of powers, which will
help to establish a solid basis for the creation of a federal polity that
respects the independence and jurisdictions of the federating units in key
sectors of the economy vital to their survival.

9. Issues of Leadership

Let me conclude by quoting from the great American writer, Ralph Waldo Emerson
in 1870, which quotation holds true of Nigeria at today's date.

"The true test of the greatness of a people is not in its census nor in the
size of its cities, not in its mineral resources, nor in its crops ... no, no,
no but the kind of man the country or society turns out as its leader at every
stage in its organizational process."

This applies to the Niger Delta. It is not too much to say that we want
leaders in this region who have a vision, a sense of values and an energy to
drive home their policies.

These three critical success factors will enable any leader from the region to
nurture that break through in ideas and courage necessary to take tough
decisions that are required to change our existing prostrate status to a land
of sustainable economic development enshrined in the rule of law and in the
tenets of democracy.

Let us rush to pursue this mission for it is mid-night Niger Delta. The house
is fallen, what we consider our Black Gold is now our Black Death. We call on
all our friends to come to our aid, as there must be a sense of justice and
fairness in our national values if we are to progress and survive as a nation.

God save the Federal Republic of Nigeria and

God bless you all.

D. O. Dafinone
23rd November 2000


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