On Tue, 15 Jun 1999, Philip A. Ikomi issued the following e-mail message to Nigerians in North America:
This is a very important message for all to pass on to as many Nigerians as you possibly can. I hope that this will help some how in mitigating the life in our part of the country. We the people of the Oil producing areas of Nigeria have borne so much suffering for the benefit of the non-oil producing parts of our country that we do not have to continue to inflict injury and death on ourselves simply because we are not getting our due share of the products of the exploitation of our resources. We have lived for hundreds of years as neighbors before the British or before the present administration in Nigeria and we have not had such traumatic experience recorded in our history. Today, the above mentioned groups seem to think that they can no longer live in peace with each other, claiming that one group, the Itsekiri, is being favored. The Ijaws and the Urhobos should realize that even if particular Itsekiris are being favored, it has not made the lives of the masses of the Itsekiris any better than the lives of the masses of the Ijaws or the Urhobos. The masses of our people are still toiling on oil damaged and polluted lands, with gas flares that have blackened hectares of pristine vegetation, and have choked our lungs.
We cannot farm, we cannot sleep, we live under constant daylight and high temperatures; our people are dying at a much younger age now than ever before. Our rivers have become barren from oil sleek that has killed all fish and with it our fishing occupation. The traditional occupation of the Itsekiris and the Ijaws is fishing, whereas that of the Urhobos is farming.
Not only are our fish dead, our land polluted and we have no more work, but our only source of "pure" drinking water, the rivers, have no more pure water, but oil for us to drink. It is apropos to ask if any of these atrocities created by those exploiting oil in our midst has any respect for Itsekiri, Ijaw, or Urhobo? None of us is favored, but the oppressors alone. I think we should be wise enough to know that we have a common oppressor and to seek justice from our oppressors, the Federal Government of Nigeria and the oil exploiting companies. We should desist from behaving like the experimental rats in the lab that thought the cause of the shock which they received was their neighbors in the cage and so started to attack them.
If the people at home cannot see what we can clearly see from here, that is, our neighbors are not the cause of our pathetic situation, but our Federal Government and oil exploiting multinationals, it is our duty to guide them so that they can see what we see. I believe that our people will follow our lead and stop the blood letting, if we could just let them know what we know. We should not help fan the embers of discord by supporting one group against the other, but help towards unifying all the people of our area with our contributions.
On that note, I am calling on all Itsekiris, Urhobos, Ijaws and all other well meaning Nigerians, and foreign nationals sympathetic to our cause, to a National Congress here in the Nation's capital of Washington, D.C. or the Metropolitan area of D.C. to discuss a way out of mess in our region in Nigeria. Our aim should be to unify our people and present a commo front before our oppressors. If we present a united front here, it will be obvious to them at home that they need not fight with one another.
At the end of the congress, we should be in a position to contribute to the stoppage of the blood letting, and arson that has claimed no small number of our suffering people in Nigeria.
The call for a congress is an urgent one and I would > welcome any and all suggestions for the date and place. Those in academia should be particularly obligated to assist in getting a place for the congress.
Feel free to e-mail me on this as soon as possible, but no later than
the end of the week.
Capt. Philip A. Ikomi, Ph.D.
Human Factors/Applied Cognition Program
Applied Research in Cognition & Human Factors (ARCH) Lab. MSN 2E5
George Mason University
44400, University Drive
Fairfax, VA 22030-4444