RIVERS STATE FOUNDATION, INC, USA, CONDEMNS OBASANJO'S MILITARIZATION OF THE NIGER DELTA CRISIS
His Excellency, Chief Olusegun Obasanjo
President, Federal Government of Nigeria
Aso Rock, Abuja, Nigeria.
RE: RIVERS STATE FOUNDATION DENOUNCES PRESIDENT OBASANJO'S
HANDLING OF THE
NIGER DELTA CRISIS.
The Rivers State Foundation USA Inc, a non profit organization
of Rivers State indigenes in the United States of America wants to express
its disgust on militarization of the economic crisis pervading the Niger
Delta Region. We further denounce the use of military and other security
agents of the Federal Republic of Nigeria to attempt to suppress what is
obviously a peaceful
demands for economic relief.
We understand that your administration inherited some of the crisis engulfing the region from your predecessors. However, your shortsighted approach in tackling these genuine and well deserved calls for economic salvation in the region has escalated the crisis. Since your administration came into existence June 1, 1999, you have feigned your desire to solve the problems in the region. The administration's inability to actualize your well articulated objectives and desire for the region has placed the indigenes' minds in suspense. The so-called economic development package you proposed for the region has been deadlocked even before it reached the floor of the National Assembly. The people of the Niger Delta Region are tired of the empty promises of the past and present administrations; especially, without a clear and distinct plan of action for immediate relief of the economic deprivation and hardship.
Mr. President, instead of flooding the region with the Federal troops who have unleashed uncontrollable damage to lives and properties in the region, your administration should have initiated a practical economic development agenda to provide basic amenities and infrastructures that will also generate employment's for our people. These will pacify the people and ease tension in the region. Mr. President, you were elected and given a mandate to advance the yoke of democratic governance to the Nigerian people. However, you have deliberately, and with military precision, mangled one of the basic and underlying tenets of a "democratic government": the protection of lives and property. Your administration has ignored the genuine desires of our people for fairness and economic justice with reckless insensitivity, and now, like your predecessors, you are now leading police officers in the destruction of lives and properties you swore to protect.
Mr. President how soon have you forgotten that the tyrannical abuse of government powers resulted in your imprisonment and that of others, some of whom were killed in custody? We know that the Almighty God did not spare your life so that you can eradicate a generation of our people in order to procure oil for the multinational corporations and your government. In recent months, we have witnessed the killings in Bonny township, Rivers State, of unarmed indigenes exercising their constitutional rights to civil protest. You glossed over the consequences of such ugly dent on the democratic principles of our government, and rather demanded the aggrieved people of Bonny to allow the multinational corporations to continue the shipment of liquefied natural gas from the terminal.
On the recent incidents in Choba village in Rivers State where your soldiers invaded the defenseless community and committed murders and rapes while the media and world community watched; you quickly exonerated them by stating that those crimes were committed by the people of the Niger Delta Region. You did not even allow for an investigation into the incident. At the same time, there have been several recent riots by your people, the Yorubas in Lagos resulting in the destruction of lives and properties including the killing of law enforcement officers. Mr. President you did not whip up your military nor did you invoke the Riot Act, and/or declare s State of Emergency in Lagos State. There is ongoing crisis in Lagos between the Yorubas and Housas with the killing of innocent souls including police officers, you are yet to order the invasion of Lagos State and relieve Gov. Tinubu of the governance of that State. But you would not hesitate to threaten the government of Bayelsa State with a state of emergency if the Governor ........... did not erase a half century of deprivation and oppression with additional repressive actions.
Mr. President you did not hesitate to send your military
men to invade Odi Village with mortars and armored personnel carriers,
killing indiscriminately men, women, children, and senior citizens, and
destroying properties. The Rivers State Foundation does not and will not
condone violence and the killing of law enforcement officers for any reason,
any where, any time and by any body. By the same measure, the Foundation
does not and shall not tolerate and condone the use of the Nigerian military
and security agents to attend to the genuine desires and demands of our
people for economic justice.
Mr. President, as umbrella organization representing the general interest of Rivers State people including the Niger Delta Region, these words of caution are issued barring all the biases and vindictiveness of your actions. It is directed at the ugly and thoughtless actions in our region.
The Foundation has carefully studied all the information reaching it with all the facts associated with each incident and has concluded that you have not attended with prudence and genuine concerns to the degradation, deprivation and economic injustice that have been forced upon our people by multinational corporations and Nigerian government for several decades. You seem to lack a basic understanding of the problems of the Niger Delta Region. Therefore it is The Rivers State Foundation position that:
Although police officers were killed in Odi Village, that it was not clear that those officers were in fact killed by the indigenes of Odi. An investigation into the murders were necessary to bring the actual killers to book, and provide true justice to those killed.
That President Obasanjo should order the immediate and unconditional withdrawal of all military personnel in Odi Village and the rest of Bayelsa to allow peace and stability to return to the State. President Obasanjo must not, and should not threaten to declare a state of emergency, and/or invoke the riot act directly or indirectly through any of his representatives. The peaceful protests of the people of the Niger Delta Region, unlike those of the Yorubas and Housas in other parts of the country, are for well-deserved economic relief, not political appointments and portfolios.
That President Obasabjo should immediately embark on intensive economic development programs for the region as only plausible and politically workable means to address the yawning of our people for economic justice. Military invasion and the invocation of riot to address an economic issue is a shortsighted and spiraling journey to guerillas warfare in the region.
That President Obasanjo should desist from seeking a military
solution to the problems of our people and issuing statements that are
capable of escalating tension in the Niger Delta Region. The President's
statement accusing the people of Niger Delta Region of murders and rapes
in Choba Village, Rivers State, was reckless and ill-advised. President
Obasanjo must always remember that all Nigerians are his constituents;
not just the military, the Yorubas and the Housas. Most importantly, President
Obasanjo must always remember that he is no longer a military Head of State
but an elected president of
The Rivers State Foundation considers the foregoing statements of position basic starting points of addressing the concerns of our people. Furthermore, The Foundation wishes to place President Obasanjo on notice that we view the crisis developing in Bayelsa State in terms of the struggles of our people to extricate the region from genocide by the Federal Government of the Republic of Nigeria and the multinational corporations. The creation of Bayelsa State has not and shall not erode our common and shared desire to improve the living standards of the people of Rivers State in the Niger Delta Region.
Mr. President, we want to make it categorically clear that we are watching with telescopic curiosity and interest, the response of your administration to the genuine demands of the people of Rivers and Bayelsa States, and the entire Niger Delta Region. We view with grave concern, the half-baked do-not-address-the-issue military-mentality approach your administration has attended the demands of our people. The Rivers State Foundation and all our people in the Diaspora support and intend to continue its support of the struggles of the people of the Niger Delta Region to liberate its indigenes from this senseless and endless repression and economic injustice from the Federal Republic of Nigeria and the multinational corporations. Enough is enough.
Robert Sam Elleh
Rivers State Foundation.