Urhobo Historical Society

P. O. Box 1454
Amherst, New York 14226, USA
Email: NigerDelta@adelphia.net
 Fax: 1 (208) 361-9469

April  14, 2001

Dear Fellow Niger Deltans:

We, leaders of Niger Delta organizations in the Diaspora, come to you in this religious season of suffering and reflections for two purposes. First, we want to assure you that your brothers and sisters who are away overseas all over the world -- in Europe, North and South America, Asia, and other regions of Africa -- have not forgotten the dangers that now threaten our futures and the very survival of our ancestral heritage in the Niger Delta. We promise to fight along with you, side by side, for the survival of the Niger Delta and for the reversal of the dangerous policies and practices that besiege our lands, rivers, and populations. We promise to come to you directly in the next weeks, months, and years, until we are all assured that the evil forces that seek to ruin us for the sake of our resources turn away from their wrongful plans and policies.

We come to you for a more immediate second reason. This is a religious season which enshrines contemplation and reflections in the midst of suffering. We offer you four poems that reflect on our suffering and pain in the Niger Delta. They also make pronouncements about those who inflict pain on the Niger Delta and who seem to enjoy our suffering. We think it is proper that we reflect on the meanings of these poems. They have no bullets in them. But they bear wisdom. We ask that they be taught in our schools. Let our teachers and students study them. They will lay the moral foundation of the projects that we will embark upon and about which we will come to you in the next several months.

The first of these poems was written by one who labours to call attention to our damaged environment in the Niger Delta and who resides with you in the Niger Delta. The next two of these painful poems were composed by Niger Deltans in the Diaspora. The fourth was penned by a British who was in the colonial service in Nigeria. We believe these poems deliver direct messages to President Olusegun Obasanjo and Chief Bola Ige of the Federal Government of Nigeria. We have therefore copied this letter and these poems to these powerful men. We do so because we believe these men are supervising their Government's persecution and victimization of the Niger Delta. We want them to know that Niger Deltans are not fools and that we know those who seek to destroy us.

We also copy this letter to the Union of the Niger Delta and to all the Governors in our region. We want them and our legislators to stand firm on our common behalf in our present travails. We call on every Niger Deltan to help distribute this letter and these poems to our people at home by every available means.

The four poems are presented below. We salute you all in the good name of the Niger Delta. We wish you good reflections and deep contemplation in this season that exposes men's inhumanity to their fellow men and women.

Sincerely yours,

Interim Niger Delta Leadership Group in the Diaspora:

Bawo Ayomike Bawo_Ayomike@freddiemac.com Ebiamadon Andi Brisibe bridges@gld.mmtr.or.jp
Joseph Ebiware Jebiware@mcla.mass.edu Orok Edem critterdoc@banet.net
Goddey Ejuwa gejuwa@uswest.net Peter Ekeh peterekeh@adelphia.net
Sokari Ekine owukori@btinternet.com N. H. Ibanga gaussa@earthlink.net
Michael Ikhariale IKHARIAB@aol.com Clement Ikpatt cikpatt@hotmail.com
Uwem Inyang ninyang@hotmail.com Igho Natufe inatufe@NRCan.gc.ca
Steve Nwabuzor ukanwabuz@naijanet.com Peter Nyiam pbn5_2000@netzero.net
Orevaoghene Charles Obaro impexma@online.no Benedict Okwumabua okwumabb@state.mi.us
Nowa Omoigui nowa@prodigy.net GBENEWA PHIDO gphido@hotmail.com
Edemma Udoh edemmaf@aol.com Benson Uwumarogie marogie@aol.com

cc. Union of Niger Delta
      Governors of States in the Niger Delta


By Nnimmo Bassey

The other day
     We danced on the street
     Joy in our hearts
     We thought we were free
     Three young folks fell to our right
     Countless more fell to our left
     Looking up,
     Far from the crowd
     We beheld
     Red hot guns

We thought it was oil
     But it was blood

We thought it was oil
     But this was blood

Heart jumping
     Into our mouths
     Floating on
     Emotions dry wells
     We leapt with fury
     Knowing it wasn't funny
     Then we beheld
     Bright red pools

We thought it was oil
     But it was blood

We thought it was oil
     But this was blood

Tears don't flow
     When you are scarred
     First it was the Ogoni
     Today it is Ijaws
     Who will be slain this next day?
     We see open mouths
     But we hear no screams
     Standing in a pool
     Up to our knees

We thought it was oil
     But it was blood

We thought it was oil
     But this was blood

Dried tear bags
     Polluted streams
     Things are real
     Only when found in dreams
     We see their Shells
     Behind military shields
     Evil, horrible evil gallows called oilrigs
     Drilling our souls

We thought it was oil
     But it was blood

We thought it was oil
     But this was blood

The heavens are open
     Above our head
     Toasted dreams in flared
     And scrambled sky
     A million black holes
     In a burnt sky
     But we know our dreams
     Won't burst like crude pipes

We thought it was oil
     But this was blood

We thought it was oil
     But this was blood

This we tell you
     They may kill all
     But the blood will speak
     They may gain all
     But the soil will RISE
     We may die but stay alive
     Placed on the slab
     Slaughtered by the day
     We are the living
     Long sacrificed

We thought it was oil
     But it was blood

We thought it was oil
     But this was blood

---Nnimmo Bassey
ERA, Benin City

 1998-1999. Dedicated to Oronto Douglas and the youths of the Niger Delta.



Nigeria harvests the bulk of its finance-laden resources from its Niger Delta where abundant petroleum oil resources lie beneath its watery terrain. After forty years of reckless drilling, the lands and water resources of this "rich" but impoverished region of Nigeria have been ruined, poisoned by oil leakages and uncontrolled flare of gas into its atmosphere. To make matters worse, pipes carrying crude oil to the privileged Northern city of Kaduna for refinement have ruptured in several places, causing tremendous loss of lives through huge fires gushing from them.

Complaints from Niger Deltans about the dangers they experience from the Federal Government's exploitation of their lands and resources have often been met with scorn. In effect, the Federal Government of Nigeria blames Niger Deltans for the difficulties that they experience. The Almighty Federal Government of Nigeria has enjoined Niger Deltans to keep law and order over Its properties in their region, failing which they would be punished. The military invasion and devastation of the town of Odi in Baylesa State of the Niger Delta in late 1999 was a clear warning and signal to the people of the Niger Delta that the Federal Government of Nigeria would punish Deltans if they did not uphold Its interest in the region. That invasion, considered unjustified by independent observers, was at the instance of President Olusegun Obasanjo. Less than a year later, his Vice-President, Atiku Abubakar, has issued another military threat against Niger Deltans, warning them of another military action if they failed to protect the oil pipes and other oil-carrying equipment in the region.

The following Psalm is a reply to Vice President Atiku Abubakar and the Federal Government from a "Nigerian Publius." May his prayer be heeded.

The Niger Delta’s Answer to Atiku’s Threat – A Psalm

Deliver us from our enemies O our God
Defend us from those who rise up against us
Deliver us from the workers of iniquity
And save us from bloodthirsty men.

For look, they lie in wait for our lives
The mighty gather against us
Not for our transgression nor for our sins, O Lord
But because we want control of the resources You gave us.

Forty years they have stolen from us
Yet they are not satisfied
Forty years they robbed the widows that they created
They have killed the young men so that none should rise up
They have polluted the land and the water
We can neither farm nor fish.

Now they have made an alliance with the powerful
To obtain weapons and training
Not to enthrone righteousness, nor to glorify Your name
Not to establish justice, but to intimidate and suppress
They run and prepare themselves through no fault of ours
They have said to themselves
Who can stop us?

Awake to help us and behold: You therefore
O Lord God of hosts, the God of Israel
Awake to punish all the nations
Do not be merciful to any wicked transgressors.

At evening they return
They growl like a dog
And go all around the nation
Indeed they belch with their mouth
Swords are in their lips
For they say, “Who hears?”

They poured concrete on the desert sand
And planted a seed, and said it will not grow.

But You, O Lord, shall laugh at them
You shall have all the oppressors in derision.

We will wait for You, O You our strength
For God is our defense
Our God of mercy shall come to meet us
God shall let us see our desire on our enemies.

Do not slay them, lest our people forget
Scatter them by Your power
And bring them down
O Lord our shield.
For the sin of their mouth and the words of their lips
Let them be taken in their pride.
And for the cursing and lying which they speak
Consume them in wrath, consume them
That they may not be.

But we will sing of Your power
Yes, we will sing aloud of Your mercy in the morning
For You have been our defense
And refuge in the day of our trouble
To You O our strength, we sing praises
For God is our defense
Our God of mercy
Forgive us our sins in the name of our Savior Jesus Christ.

------ Nigerian Publius

October 2000



"Take a reflection on this poem presented to a world audience at the European Peace University, Stadtschlaining, Austria, on the 30th of March, 2001: 'Towards a Culture of Peace in the Niger Delta.'"


Nature so blesses me
God's chosen earth paradise, I was
Flowing with milk and honey
For a chosen people

My hospitality was unappreciated
Survivability becomes a debate
A path to my devastation
Now break this spiral of hatred

Like a dove in her nest
In unity with the flora and fauna
The sweet breeze becomes unfriendly
Cutting off my wings

My guardian became my foe
My guests smiled at my tears
But forget all this past
Daylight comes after nightfall

Yours in the struggle for change in the Niger Delta.

Akpobibibo Onduku


"Dear Chief Bola Ige:

"In this strange week in Nigerian politics, Urhobo Historical Society is
much honoured to send to you a poem composed by Harold Smith from the
United Kingdom. He wrote his poem in February 2001, following a letter
from Urhobo Historical Society to you. You will see in this poem that
Harold Smith holds the late Chief Obafemi Awolowo in very high regard.
We suspect that you and Harold Smith share these sentiments about Chief
Awolowo, although it is entirely possible that you may disagree on how
the late Chief saw Nigeria."

Urhobo Historical Society
(April  10, 2001)

Coastal Oil and Troubled Waters
By Harold Smith

The seven littoral states
Of Nigeria
(A nation in deep trouble
That we love),
Namely Akwa Ibom, Bayelsa,
Cross River, Delta, Edo,
Ogun, Ondo and Rivers,
Are asking the Attorney General
To stop stealing their oil,
As Britain did too.

The Urhobo Historical Society
Has put it more politely, elegantly,
And at greater length, but
We all fear what the
Outcome might be.

I am perhaps prejudiced.
Carol was secretary to the
General Manager of BP, when
Shell-BP were prospecting in the Delta.
Carol's boss, Cliff Simpson,
Feared there was a tragedy
Here in the making.

My job was to protect the Health and Safety
Of the Nigerian people
And my laws,
Said the British Attorney General,
Were the finest, best presented
And drafted that he knew.

If only I could draft
Laws to help those
Wonderful people, namely,
The citizens of
Akwa Ibom, Bayelsa,
Cross River, Delta, Edo,
Ogun, Ondo and Rivers.

It was my privilege
Once to serve
These fine people, and if
The Nigerian Attorney General's mentor,
The truly great Awolowo
Were here today
(I loved him too),
And running Nigeria
As he was meant to do,
He would bring his great
Wisdom to bear,
And justice would prevail.

Awo was a true founder of his nation.
Though British, I too was hounded
And criminalised. 'Treated like
An African', someone said.
The truth about Awo
Has yet to be told,
And all my efforts
Have been foiled by the British.

Chief Bola Ige, the Attorney General,
Can't appreciate how Awo's suffering
Was associated with Delta oil,
Which Britain contaminated by anointing
A great Empire of Nations
With the blood of
Millions of innocents.

Bloody, bloody Britain,
To soil a fine record
With this foul Treason!

I pray for the souls
Of three million dead.
I pray for the Nigerian Commonwealth
Of nations,
Crazily combined for no
Good reason.

I pray that British war criminals
Will one day be condemned
For destroying these
Fine nations.
And I commemorate,
Celebrate and rejoice
In the diversity and richness
Of all Nigeria's peoples,
Of whom the peoples of
Akwa Ibom, Bayelsa,
Cross River, Delta, Edo,
Ogun, Ondo and Rivers
Are great examples

February 2001