The Bill Of Rights Of the Oron People
Unanimously Adopted and Proclaimed
The General and Representative Assembly
of the Oron Indegenous Ethnic Linguistic Nationality, Nigeria,
At the Oron Civic Centre, Oron, Friday, 25th of June, 1999
Under the Leadership and Guidance of Oron National Forum, (ONAF) Oron Development Union, (ODU) Oron Women Action Group, (OWAG) Oron Youth Movement , (OYOM) Oron Public Relations Committee, (OPRC)
Organised by ORON NATIONAL FORUM (ONAF) 200 Oron Road, Oron.
25 June, 1999
We the proud youths and representatives of Oron people ~
Conscious of our historical role as the custodians of posterity;
Aware of our duties as protectors of our people, culture, civilization, heritage, destiny and rights as a free people and coherent nationality;
Fully informed about the status, experience and the prospects of our people in the Nigerian society;
Do hereby at the Representative Conference in the Oron Metropolis on the 25th day of June, 1999.
Declare as follows:
- Whereas the Oron people comprising the five Local Government Areas of Mbo, Udung-Uko, Okobo, Urue Offiong/Oruko and Oron in Akwa Ibom State of Nigeria had existed as an independent, sovereign nation for hundred of years before the formation of Nigeria by the British imperial power; - Whereas the Oron Nation and people were never in any way consulted before they, including their land -were compromised by the British into the Nigeria contraption;
- Whereas the Nigeria experience has completely manifested a threat that if not checked may culminate in the total extinction of Oron people, land and culture.
Be it Resolved and It Is Hereby resolved that in order to save the Oron Nation,
The Bill of Rights of the Oron People
- Oron People, Youths and Women all over the world unite under their patriotic organisations; ONAF, OYOM, OPRC, OWAG and others to proclaim the ORO BILL OF RIGHT as the embodiment of the grievances, principles and line of action in irreversible commitment to Oro meaningful survival;
- that Oron youths, women and people support and /or initiate any programme anywhere they deem fit for the achievement of the above purpose.
All over the whole civilized world, the flame which provides warmth and beautifies every human society is said to be embedded in the youth who are also its herald of a new dawn and civilisation and to this end, we, the youths and people of Oron drawn from 200 communities of the eleven traditional clans spread across the five Local Government Areas, Oron, Mbo, Udung Uko, Uruko Offong/Oruko and Okobo of Oron Nation met today, the 25th Day of June, 1999 at the civic centre Oron to review the processes of our participation in the Nigerian State, a fate fostered on us by accident of history and respectively preview our match into the third millenium and accordingly State as Follows:
1. That Oorn Nation had existed as a free sovereign and egalitarian society for hundreds of years before its coercive lumping into the amalgamated Nigeria in 1914 and is therefore older than Nigeria itself and should have been consulted before the exercise which signalled the beginning of the chastisements hitherto suffered by the Oorn Nation.
2. That before the forcible incorporation of the Oron Nation into the Nigerian State in 1914, the land mass, territorial waters of Oron were larger than what has been arbitrarily determined for it today by the Nigerian State against what was identified in 1690s Dutch maps of old Calabar and Oron Intelligence Report in 1935.
3. That over the years, it has been widely established that the Oro people attach great importance to the creeks and water fronts, but frustratingly, they have continued to have the harrowing experience of having their waters and ocean fronts-their main source of sustenance-gradually seized from them.
The most conspicuous are:
(i) The Stubs and Widenham creeks/forest, water fronts as well as Oro fishing ports dotted along the Atlantic, littoral forceful annexed by Eket division in 1974 through the instrumentality of a Military Governor of Eket extraction , late Jacob Udoakaha Esuene.
(ii) That the Bakassi territorial area on the Oron eastern border with the Cameroon Republic was awarded in 1996 by the Federal Military Government to Cross River State in honour of some highly placed sons and daughters of that state for their closeness to Generals Ibrahim Babangida and Sani Abacha against the position of informed representation, documented facts before and during the colonial/early post-independent era.
4. That the Oron people have never had their dream of belonging to a political configuration of their choice realized as evident in our memoranda to the Irikete Panel on State Creation in 1975, the Political Bureau of 1986-87 and the 1996 Arthur Mbanefo Committee on States, Local Governments Creation and Boundary Adjustment thus showing organized efforts by the Nigerian State to systematically neutralize and Annihilate Oro identity, culture and heritage from the face of the earth.
5. That occasioned by neglect, marginalisation, repression, discrimination and deprivations, the story of Oro participation in the contraption called Nigeria has been one of stagnation and under development.
The following are examples:
(i) No Oron man has ever been appointed or elected a governor of a state and from 1984 till date, none of our sons and daughters has been deemed fit to hold ministerial position in spite of the fact that successive regimes in the country have zoned key positions to Akwa Ibom state.
(ii) No known project has been undertaken by the State and Federal governments within Oro during the period.
6. That although the Oron Nation has played host to oil exploration and exploitation activities which started with Shell in 1958 with capped wells dotted across the Oro landscape, there is nothing to show for it.
7. That despite the presence of Mobil Producing Nigeria Unlimited rigs within Oro territorial waters and in "disputed" waters, the Oron Nation has been denied its due, following the abrogation of offshore - onshore dichotomy as representations for Oro Local Government Areas to be in core catchment area of Mobil Producing Nigeria Unlimited have continued to fall on deaf ears. Of specific note is the fact that even paltry compensations for the January 1998 oil spill have not been paid to most communities and individuals in the Oro speaking Local Government Areas.
8. That our environment has been seriously degraded and abused over the years following indiscriminate activities of oil companies. Most agonising is the continued pollution of our coastal waters, rivers creeks and streams through the dumping of poisonous substances in our deep ocean trenches. Without mincing words, such acts have nonetheless placed our ocean's abundant wealth in jeopardy causing gross impoverishment of many fisherfolk and disrupting lives of coastal habitats and fish nursery grounds. These acts have therefore become very frustrating since right from the beginning of life in this part of Nigeria depends almost wholly on the sea. We live on the sea, die on the sea and as we come to see it today the prospects are dangerously grim and our hopes and security are dimming and worsening by the day. Oro people are encircled by the Nigerian State and its collaborators.
Now exploration activities have driven aquatic products from nearby fishing grounds into the high seas which requires expensive fishing gears such as large boats and outboat engines to enable our fishfolk to continue with their trade. But since then these untold hardships caused us by the multinational oil companies and the Nigerian National Petroleum Company, NNPC no assistance has come from any quarter to cushion the effects of skyrocketing prices of fishing material.
9. That the unilateral determination and implementation of the Derivation Principle of Revenue Allocation by the Federal Government alone without inputs/representations from oil producing States and communities have been a major source of tension in the country. Such a policy has been left to the whims and caprices of the predatory military cliques who were until recently in control of power to the detriment of the oil producing areas.
10. That no positive impact of OMPADEC and Petroleum Trust Fund (PTF), services has been felt in Oro land since their inceptions despite contributions from resources harnessed from Oro land and waters.
11. That the decision of the federal government to address the developmental problems of the Niger Delta through the Niger Delta Development Commission though laudable is not all embracing as it grossly omits some oil producing communities of the Niger Delta and represents palpable acquiescence, until a marginalised community engages the government in fierce battles, it is apparently not disposed to accede to the people's demands.
12. We note with regret that the non-constitution of a governing council for maritime academy of Nigeria, Oro, has given the sole administrator of the institution the licence to run the place like sole proprietorship. This has generated tension in our community. Most of the senior Oro personnel in the institution have been unjustly removed from service. Oro has been denied all benefits that should accrue to the community.
In view of the above we, representatives of the Oron Nation, comprised in Oron popular organisations, here gathered, to wit
The Oron National Forum (ONAF) The Oron Development Union (ODU) The Oron Youth Movement (OYOM) The Oron Women's Action Group (OWAG) The Oron Revolutionary Youth Committee (ORAYCOM) The Oron Public Relations Committee (OPRC) and other popular, patriotic and democratic organisations
Hereby declare as follows:
1. That the manifest Destiny of the Oron Nation is in the hands of the Oron people, particularly the youth and broad masses.
2. That the achievement of the manifest destiny must be seen in the total security of the Oron geopolitical space which includes the people, the land, the culture and future.
3. That the processes and actions relevant in the achievement of the manifest destiny in no way be compromised by any Oron citizen even at the pains of death.
4. That the Oron Nation is prepared to exist within the Nigerian system if, and only if, the security of the land and people is assured by appropriate affirmative action by the Nigerian Sovereign State by way of a just, equitable and democratic conduct of the affairs of the federal republic of Nigeria through its constitutional, political administration and social policies nationwide and particularly as they affect the micro-minorities.
5. That the Oron Nation unequivocally reject the 1999 constitution of Nigeria on the following grounds:
(a) That it is arbitrary and undemocratic, imposed by a military cabal committed only to sectionalist interests
(b) It woefully fails to address the special interest of the micro-nationalities in the country.
(c) It does not respect and observe genuine federal principles upon which any viable pluralistic Nigerian political community must be built.
(d) It has grave feudalistic elements meant to undermine the small ethnic nationalities and the management of their resources and development interests.
Fully conscious of the above facts and their implications, the People of Oron demand the following:
(1) All portions of Oron land and adjoining coast, that is, (i) the territory between Oro and the Republic of Cameroun (now called Bakassi) which is part of Mbo local government in Oro and had since been managed under Okolo/Oron Country Council or Oron Local Government. (ii) Esuk Inwang in Okobo Local Government Area settled in favour of Okobo by a competent court of law; (iii) The Stubs and Widenham creek forests with the adjoining coastal waters be immediately returned to the Oron Nation.
(2) The Oron Nation must be made a state within the Niger Delta Region.
(3) That the Federal Republic of Nigeria be restructured in six regions among which the Niger Delta Region comprising Cross River, Akwa Ibom, Rivers, Bayelsa, Delta and Edo States. Each Region logically will be made up of a group of states along geo-cultural lines.
(4) The regions should form the federating units each with the power to manage its affairs particularly development according to its cultural realities.
(5) Every region should control its resources 100% from which it will allocate funds for running the central government.
(6) The Central Government should only handle a small number of policies such as Foreign Affairs, Immigration, Currency, Customs etc.
(7) The control and composition of all security organizations be decentralized, for instance, the military should be controlled and formed on regional commands basis and administered as recommended by the Movement for National Reformation, Izon National Congress, Afenifere, Movement for the Survival of the Ogoni People (MOSOP), the Ohaneze, Uhrobo Union, The Alliance for Democracy, JACON and other patriotic, popular organizations in the country.
(8) The convening of a Sovereign National Conference of Ethnic Nationalities is imperative and should be facilitated by the nationalities to draw up a true democratic, federal structure for Nigeria.
(9) Oron people unequivocally and vigorously reject further existence in the present Akwa Ibom State owing to continuous marginalisation of Oron people by successive administrations all controlled by the majority Ibibio-Annang hegemony. This treatment has manifested in public appointments by the military controlled federal and state appointments as well as the Government of Governor Victor Attah.
(10) Oron nation hereby authorizes its National Joint Committee on Plans and Strategy to take necessary steps towards working with Ibeno and Eastern Obolo (Andoni) ethnic nationalities for a concrete joint programme of self determination of the three peoples.
(11) Oro Nation solicits the cooperation of all peoples and civilised world to come to her aid in securing and advancing her culture and protecting her heritage as a small indegeous nationality.
We, the Representatives of Oron People under the leaderships of the under-listed patriotic popular organisations hereby declare our total and everlasting Commitment to the Bill of Rights of the Oron People as an article of faith. So help us God.
List of Orgnaisations Represented at the Conference on Oron Bill of Rights
1. Oron National Forum (ONAF)
2. Oron Development Union, (ODU)
3. Oron Youth Movement (OYM)
4. Mbo Youth Movement (MYM)
5. Oron Environmental Watch
6. Iguita Progressive Association
7. Oruco Development Association
8. Atak Oro Solidarity Front
9. Nka Mbek oro
10. Udung Uko Improvement Union
11. Uboro Youth Association
12. Oyubia community league
13. Utine Youth Association
14. Oyubia Youth Forum
15. Ebugha Youth Movement
16. Ikpe Oro Youth Forum
17. Oron Women Action Group (OWAG)
18. Oron Development Union, Women's Wing
19. Unyenge Progressive Association
20. Oron Liberation Movement (OLM)
21. Oron Youth Progressives
22. Nka-Ukio Akpakip Oro
23. Udung Uwe Youth Development Association
24. Ukuko Progressive Youth Club
25. Oron Public Relation Committee
26. National Association of Akpakip-Oro students
27. Uya-Oro Youth Association
28. Akwa Ibom Traders Association
29. Eyo-Abasi Youth Association
30. Idua Youth Association