Organization of Niger Delta Communities
c/o 147-37 Union Turnpike, Suite 131,
Flushing, NY 11367
His Excellency Olusegun Obasanjo
Head of State
The Federal Republic of Nigeria
Aso Rock Presidential Villa
Dear Mr. President:
We the undersigned representatives of the Niger Delta People, resident In North America and Europe, wish to express our displeasure with the decision of your government to invade Bayelsa State. While we deplore the alleged killing of police officers in the line of duty by unknown elements, we feel that the invasion of the state was neither justified nor necessary to apprehend the criminals involved. We consider it grossly unfair for a government to order a military expedition to punish a group of people for the actions of a few individuals.
Your current military action in Bayelsa State is evidence of executive recklessness. We are bewildered that, in your effort to apprehend a few alleged criminals, you have ordered the Nigerian Armed Forces to destroy Odi community. Even a young recruit in a police academy would have informed you that such overwhelming military force as shown in Odi will not lead to the apprehension of the suspected criminals. Therefore, the military invasion of Odi suggests to us that this plan has been in the offing for a while. Odi village was just an unfortunate victim of your dastardly scheme to resolve the Niger Delta question. Your partner-in-crime and Defense Minister Gen. T.Y. Danjuma have already informed the world that this operation is code-named operation HAKURI II. He said it was "initiated with the mandate of protecting lives and properties - particularly oil platforms, flow stations, operating rig terminals and pipelines, refineries and power installations in the Niger Delta." It is obvious where your interest lies - conquer the Niger Delta people and make it safe for the continued exploitation of her resources by your clique of Nigerian ruling oligarchy and multinational oil corporations. In this regard you and your cohorts are very poor students of history. No where has might crushed the determined spirit of a people. We make haste to tell you that Ijawland, and indeed the Niger Delta will not be conquered. You and your forces of evil may win the present battle, but it will be a pyrrhic victory.
Your propaganda machinery has repeatedly been churning out the falsehood that the military action is necessitated by the need to maintaining "law and order." As we have said the killing of the policemen is condemnable, but as indigenes of the Niger Delta, we are appalled that none of the plethora of human right abuses and violations, extrajudicial killings alleged against the security agencies has elicited your attention, even investigation. Just before the Odi crisis, soldiers were alleged to have raped women in Choba town in Port-Harcourt, Rivers State; rather than allow for a full investigation into the allegation you dismissively absolved the military of the crime. Do the citizens of the Niger Delta not deserve equal protection under the law? It was recently reported that the Deputy Governor of Bayelsa State in company of a visiting Chinese delegation, was shot at by the police, the federal authorities did not deem it fit to condemn the incident.
If the Deputy Governor could be wantonly shot at, what becomes of the lives of the overwhelmingly poor, marginalized rural dwellers of Bayelsa State and the rest of the Niger Delta? Animals to be hunted down at will by gun-toting and trigger-happy security agents!
The length and breadth of the Niger Delta, certainly Ijawland, from the East to the West is under a chain of unprecedented attacks. Accordingly, the indigenes are embroiled in fending off one form of violence or the other, since 1993, beginning with the Ogoni crisis. We do believe that no human being should have to, let alone continue to, live under the permanent fear of a state-sanctioned violence. It is time you realize Mr. President that Nigeria is in an era of civil governance and not military despotism. It is the militarization of civil society under years of brutal military dictatorships that has brought Nigeria to this current precipice of self-annihilation. Your recourse to the military option in resolving the deep and critical problems in the Nigeria society dampen our confidence in the future of the country.
Sensing the urgency of the situation, therefore, we the
undersigned groups from the Niger-Delta find it especially instructive,
certainly duty bound, to appeal to the Presidency and the Federal Legislature,
to embark upon timely and courageous measures of justice in order to avert
the imminent disaster that looms ahead. We are reminded of the words of
our beloved compatriot Wole Soyinka that "Justice is the first condition
for humanity." Certainly, in the current Nigerian situation, justice to
the Niger Delta, is the first condition for the survival of the Nigerian
nation. We are asking you "to err on the side of reason" as
opposed to giving credence to the desire for emotional satisfaction and wrongful legitimacy of the whims and caprices of the advocates and practitioners of feudalism, despotism and kleptocracy. We make bold to suggest to you that the alternative is bound to spell disaster for one and all. For, any alternative to peaceful and fair-minded resolution would cause you to preside over the dissolution and disintegration of the Federal Republic of Nigeria. The days of talking down to the peace-loving indigenes of the Niger Delta are over. The innocent children who endured the trauma and consequent pains of the civil war have come of age and we are decidedly against anymore oppression and state-sanctioned terrorism.
Mr. President, during the electioneering campaign that saw you elected as president, you claimed that you have a definite plan for rescuing the Niger Delta from her plight. Furthermore, in your Independence Day speech, which was broadcast nationwide, you stated: "the goose that lays the golden egg must be well-catered to." However, on account of the actions and utterances of this administration, we wonder who or where that goose might be! Your Niger Delta Development Commission bill has been in limbo since its submission to the Federal Legislature. It has been widely reported that your administration has been sitting on, adamantly refusing to release, the pittance of the three percent (3%) revenue allocation due the oil-bearing communities as authorized by the erstwhile decree that established OMPADEC. In a similarly contemptuous fashion, no effort is being made to convene a Sovereign National Conference, as of yet, despite the fact that there is an overwhelming demonstrable clamor for it.
Meanwhile, pursuant to the insincere spirit of your supplemental budget of the 1999 fiscal year, you have made the following appropriations: 1. the sum of Five and four -tenths Billion Naira (N5.4b) for the protection of the shoreline and prevention of erosion at Bar Beach in Lagos State; 2. the sum of Five and one-tenth Billion Naira (N5.1b) for Federal Capital Territory (FCT) improvement projects; 3. the sum of Two and two-tenths Billion Naira (N2.2b) for the construction of federal roads in all of the six geopolitical zones of Nigeria, with the glaring exception of the South-South zone. If the question must be asked, knowing fully well that some Ninety percent (90%) of Nigeria's revenue derives from the crude oil and natural gas wealth of the Niger Delta, "Where is the money coming from, to meeting these fiscal appropriations?" The excuse to item 3 above was that those parts of the country that are not named in the current list should expect to be named in subsequent lists. Why must the Niger Delta have to wait, always, at the convenience of the majority ethnic groups?
Mr. President during your last visit to the USA, specifically while at Harvard University, it was reported that you said the following about the Niger Delta, "it is a difficult terrain; to construct one mile of road there will cost more money than is needed to construct ten miles in other areas." Mr. President this mantra has been the lame excuse of the oppressors of the Niger Delta peoples. We will like to note that in spite of the avowed difficult terrain, it has not hindered your encouragement of Multinational Corporation to explore and exploit the crude oil in the region. Indeed, the Niger Delta in spite of its difficult terrain remains the lowest cost region in the world for the production of crude oil! Your comment further reveals your hypocrisy and criminal conspiracy to perpetuate the poverty and under-development in the Niger-Delta.
Once again, we pray that the Presidency and the Federal Legislature will "find it right to enthrone true democracy and the principles of justice, fairness and equity." This is all that the peace-loving indigenes of the Niger-Delta are asking for. As it stands today, Mr. President, your government have the option to plunge Nigeria into doomsday or avert the impending catastrophe. We do herein express our fervent prayers for you that the Amazing Grace and Infinite Wisdom of Almighty God may shepherd your thoughts, whereby you are able to stand up to the special interest. May the Almighty God bless the Federal Republic of Nigeria!
Very truly yours,
Bayelsa State Center USA
Delta State Peoples Forum
Federation of Ijaw Communities of the U.K & Ireland (FEDICOM)
Ijaw National Congress USA (INCUSA).
Ijaw Women Foundation
Ikwerre Youth Convention (Sweden)
Ogbakor Ikwerre USA
Rivers State Foundation
Urhobo National Forum
Urhobo Social Club USA
The President of the Senate of the Federal Republic of Nigeria.
The Speaker of the House of Representatives of the Federal Republic of
Nigeria. Federal Executive Council Appointees of the Niger Delta
The Governors of the Niger Delta States.
The National Assembly Delegation of the Niger Delta States.
The Speakers of the Niger Delta States Houses of Assembly.
The Secretary-general of the United Nations Organization.
The Secretary-general of the Organization of African Unity.
The Secretary-general of the Commonwealth of Nations.
The President of the United States of America.
The Prime Minister of the United Kingdom.
The Private Secretary to Queen Elizabeth II.
The President of France.
The President of South Africa.
The Prime Minister of Israel.
The Prime Minister of Canada.
The Chancellor of Germany.
Nelson Mandela, former President of South Africa.
Jimmy Carter, former President of the USA, The Jimmy Carter
J. Dennis Hastert, Speaker of the House of Representatives
Richard Armey, House Majority Leader (R-TX)
Richard Gephardt, House Minority Leader (D-MO)
Trent Lott, Senate Majority Leader (R-MS)
Thomas Daschle, Senate Minority Leader (D-SD)
Cynthia McKinney, Member of Congress (D-GA)
Dennis Kucinich, Member of Congress (D-OH)
Maxine Waters, Member of Congress (D-CA)
Russell Feingold, Member United States Senate (D-WI)
Madeleine Albright, Secretary of State
Gayle Smith, Senior Director for African Affairs, National Security
Council Eric Schwartz, Senior Director for Multilateral and
Humanitarian Affairs, National Security Council Rev. Jesse Jackson,
Special Presidential Envoy for the Promotion of Democracy in Africa
Randall Robinson, Executive Director, TransAfrica
Kwaesi Mfume, President & CEO, N.A.A.C.P.
William Gray, 3d, President, United Negro College Fund