THURSDAY, NOVEMBER 25, 1999
OBASANJO AND THE NIGER-DELTA:
GOVERNANCE BY DECEIT AND DOUBLE STANDARD
As a reaction to the growing criticism, the Federal Government of Nigeria in a press statement has denied any military action against the people of Bayelsa State. Instead, it claims that it is a mere troop deployment of security agencies to restore "law and order." First, it is pertinent to note that there was no indication of a general break down of law and order in Bayelsa State. Secondly, how can the government justify the reported bombardment of Odi Township and surrounding villages using artillery guns, with the support of combat naval boats, as the only means available to it in restoring law and order and to apprehend criminals. Is this a mere troop deployment or a military invasion to conquer an impoverished people? An invasion that has been pre-planned to teach Ijaw and the Niger Delta people a lesson for having the temerity to challenge an oppressive and subjugating status quo.
It was also claimed in the government press statement
that the security forces are under the control of the State Governor. This
is nothing but a naked lie! By what law is the Governor authorized to command
any of the security agencies deployed to Bayelsa State as claimed? Definitely,
not by any Nigerian law! This is just a ploy by the Federal Government
the Governor of Bayelsa State in the brutalization of her people. It is a classic example of governance by deceit for which the Nigerian Military dictatorships were very well known. However when the dust settles, we shall know the role Governor Alameyeseigha played in this unfolding tragedy. He must be reminded that, ultimately he will be held accountable to Ijaw people.
Another sign of the insincerity of the Obasanjo administration is its continued claim of commitment to address the problems in the Niger Delta. Almost six months after coming to power, the truth of the situation is the government has not acted in good faith as to win the confidence of the people. Using the pathetic condition of Bayelsa State as a yardstick, it produces almost forty percent of Nigeria's oil wealth, but only has one road. The federal government recently awarded contracts for the repair and construction of forty-six roads in the country. Not one of these roads is in Bayelsa State or the Niger Delta. Much of Bayelsa State is a swampy terrain, and it was flooded recently, till date the federal government has not seen it fit to render any assistance to alleviate the suffering of the people. But the same Obasanjo administration recently allocated over a billion naira to address the problem of the storm surges from the Atlantic ocean that threaten the high brow Victoria Island suburb in Lagos State. Bayelsa State is currently in total darkness, yet the federal government has not found it fit to assist the State in any meaningful way to have electricity restored.
We have gone this far to enumerate these issues in-order to avail the world of the deceit and double standard of the Obasanjo's government against the people of the Niger-Delta. The government keeps emphasizing the restoration of law and order, what about JUSTICE, FAIRNESS, AND EQUITY. Without JUSTICE there will be no peace in the Niger-Delta. Justice to the people of the Niger-Delta is for the local communities to decide how their environment is to be exploited.
Francis Ebi Porbeni
Director of Public Relations
Ijaw National Congress USA (INCUSA)Office: 147-37 Union Turnpike, Suite 131, Flushing, NY 11367
Tel. 410 6022720
Fax 410 6023046
<<<<The Ijaws are a nation of more than twelve million people in the Niger Delta region of Nigeria. Since the discovery of crude oil in commercial quantity in Oloibiri (Ijawland) in 1958, oil companies such as Shell (Anglo/Dutch), AGIP (Italian), Elf (French) and Chevron (American) have colluded with the military and successive governments of Nigeria to wage a war of economic exploitation, environmental degradation, and the institution of internal colonialism. Chevron in particular has been implicated in several acts of human right abuse in the Niger Delta. In January 1999 Nigerian military forces used helicopters and other equipment belonging to Chevron to attack two Ijaw communities in the western Niger Delta. Chevron's corporate policy of instigating violence against the Ijaws continues.
The Ijaw National Congress is involved in the struggle
to achieve cultural change and free the people of the Niger Delta, and
the Ijaws in particular from decades of environmental pollution, corporate
violence, unjust socio-economic structure and political oppression>>>>