Mar 23, 2012

Ogoni: Oil Still Driving Problems in Niger Delta

Development problems in the Niger Delta still need to be addressed by the Federal Government of Nigeria, with Ledum Mitee believing the current amnesty was only rewarding violence, not nonviolent activists .


Below is an article published by the Daily Trust:


The Centre for Advanced Social Science (CASS), an NGO, says the Federal Government is yet to address development challenges in the Niger Delta.


Dr Sofiri Joab-Peterside disclosed this during a book presentation entitled; "Perceptions and Reality: Documenting the Amnesty Process in the Niger Delta Region of Nigeria," on Thursday [22 March 2012] in Port Harcourt.


Joab-Peterside is a CASS associate research fellow and project coordinator of the book.


He said the amnesty programme was not a requisite to the development of the Niger Delta region and that the programme had also failed to address who a militant was.


He said that the research in the book being presented showed that the philosophy driving the amnesty programme was to ensure uninterrupted oil supply.


Joab-Peterside said that the programme was not meant to address the root causes of the crises in the region.


"The programme didn't actually define who a militant is and so that provided a leeway for the politicians who saw that as another opportunity to dispense patronage to some of the youths who were following them.


"So most people who got recommended, who are today studying outside the country have never carried guns.


"Government needs to pursue the amnesty as a holistic programme of addressing the Niger Delta problem and not to single out amnesty and just take that as if it is a stand-alone matter."


According to him, the impression that is created by government is that violence pays and it is only youths who carry arms that benefits.


He said he feared renewed struggle in the region due to the fact that government was yet to address developmental issues in the region.


Joab-Peterside noted that the Book gives insight on the scientific base of the true situation in the Niger Delta and proffered solutions to remedying it.


Mr Ledum Mitee, leader of the Movement for the Survival of Ogoni People (MOSOP), described as counter-productive the payments and training of former militants without addressing the region's fundamental problem.


"You are paying money to people just for the thing (Amnesty) to go on and then how long will you continue to pay.


"And are you not creating the impression that you are only responding to those who can show capacity to violence.


"What of others who are equally angry; who did not carry guns. What is the incentive for them to remain quiet?"


"Amnesty was not the problem; it was the symptom of a deeper problem and so, why don't we deal with that fundamental of the problem."


He said the region was currently experiencing further environmental degradation due to the illegal exploration and refining of crude oil by unauthorised persons.


According to him, the creeks in the region are dying because more people are now seeing that perhaps the whole process of oil exploration has been democratised.


Mitee said if the situation was not dealt with immediately, it could lead to a far more serious consequence to the environment.