Press Statement Issued By Concerned Civil Society Organisations Operating in the Niger Delta
The concerned group of Civil Society Organisations [CSO]
operating in the Niger Delta region held their weekly Niger Delta Security and Strategy Meeting and reviewed the National Security Situation and also the security situation in the Niger Delta Region since the advent of the Muhammadu Buhari led administration.
The group acknowledged the failure of the Goodluck Jonathan administration to address critical security and developmental issues in the Niger Delta as recommended in the Technical Committee Report and the Report of the United Nations Environmental Programme (UNEP) Assessment of Ogoni land.
To this end, the group has observed that the amnesty programme which was the Goodluck Jonathan administration’s response to the security problems in the Niger Delta was only a fragment of the recommendations of a well-researched and thought out report by the Technical Committee on the Niger Delta. The main issues were left unattended to.
The group also acknowledged the fact that a lot of reactions on the Niger Delta have been coming from different segments of the Nigerian society; some calling for the scrapping of the amnesty programme, the Ministry of Niger Delta Affairs and the Niger Delta Development Commission (NDDC).
It noted that no matter the rationale behind these reactions, the fact remains that the Niger Delta is a critical area in the geopolitical configuration of Nigeria, and this has been well defined right from the colonial times. Besides, the oil and gas resource of the Niger Delta is the mainstay of the Nigerian economy.
It will therefore be suicidal for any government to ignore or marginalize the Niger Delta. The group expresses dismay by the statement attributed to the President that he will concentrate his development efforts on areas where he got the most votes, as against the areas where he got the least; alluding to the Niger Delta and the South East, who overwhelmingly voted for Goodluck Jonathan as President in the March 28 Presidential Elections.
Elections are conducted to choose representatives in government and thereafter, the key priorities of government should be about governance and not politics. We expect the Nigerian situation to follow the same pattern as obtainable in all democracies. We therefore make the following recommendations
To the President
1. To adopt and holistically implement the Recommendations of the Technical Committee Report on the Niger Delta, so as to bring about sustainable Peace and needed Development in the area that lays the golden egg.
2. To urgently implement the recommendations of the UNEP Report on Ogoni land and ensure all oil companies clean, remediate and pay adequate compensation for all oil spills and environmental damages in their areas of operation.
3. To urgently stop gas flaring in the Niger Delta in line with international standards of operation.
4. To reintroduce the Petroleum Industry Bill (PIB) and ensure its smooth passage into law.
The National Assembly
1. To quickly settle their political differences that have crippled governance so that they can urgently face the business of law making and other oversight functions which Nigerians voted them for.
2. To urge the Federal government and the Niger Delta States to recognize and prioritize the security and stability of the Niger Delta as a critical component of the National Security and Development plan of the country.
3. To use their oversight effectively in ensuring that Federal Government Agencies administering development programmes in the Niger Delta are transparent and accountable in the delivery of their programmes.
Niger Delta State Governors
1. To adopt a collaborative approach in addressing the security and development crises in the Niger Delta
2. To strengthen the BRACE Commission and use it as a platform to galvanize the development and socio-economic transformation of the Niger Delta commensurate with the resources accruing from the region
3. To urgently address youth and women unemployment, community conflict and security, education and health care delivery and the provision of social services especially in the rural areas in their respective states.
4. To promote anti-corruption and ensure democratic accountability and political inclusion in governance in their respective states
Houses of Assemblies
1. To rise beyond being mere rubber stamps and appendages of their State Governors and begin to focus on protecting the interest of their constituents by properly monitoring the activities of governors
2. To promote participatory governance through regular interactions and feedbacks to their constituents.
The international Community
1. To encourage the Nigerian Government to be accountable, transparent, promote the rule of law and respect the human rights of Nigerians
2. To continue to support development initiatives that will enhance sustainable peace and development in the Niger Delta.
In conclusion, we call on Niger Delta community members to become more active in governance, demanding accountability and noting that democracy is not just about elections but is enhanced by participation of the citizens.
• Centre for Environment Human Rights and Development (CEHRD)
• Kebetkache Women Development & Resource Centre
• Niger Delta Women for Justice (NDWJ)
• Centre for Media and Development Communications (CEMEDEC)
• Women Against Climate Change
• Citizens Trust Advocacy and Development Centre (CITADEC)
• Amazona Women Leadership Initiative, AWOLIN