UNPO Welcomes New Member : Niger Delta Peoples Movement
The UNPO General Assembly has welcomed Unrepresented the Niger Delta Peoples Movement (NDPM) as its newest member. The NDPM is a combination of nations situated in the Niger Delta region, which has a marshy-swampy land surface covering over 70,000 square meters landmass located in the south-south geopolitical region of Nigeria. The 6 states that comprise the present geopolitical location of the Niger Delta are Akwa-ibom, Bayelsa, Delta, Edo, Cross River and Rivers. The region has over 20 ethnic nationalities that are regarded as indigenous and had interacted with European traders pre-and post-colonial days.
One of the region's most notable features is its vast reserves of oil and gas, which have made Nigeria one of the largest oil-producing countries in Africa and a major player in the global energy market. However, the exploitation of these resources has had significant environmental and socio-economic consequences for the Niger Delta. Oil spills, gas flaring, and other forms of pollution have led to severe degradation of the ecosystem, affecting the livelihoods of the local population, who rely heavily on fishing and agriculture.
The NDPM has expressed grievances and misgivings over the state expropriation, ownership, and management of the natural resources produced in their traditional lands. The region has denounced deprivation of their natural resources, the devastating effect of oil exploration in their lands, the resultant environmental degradation and denial of compensations, and the loss of livelihoods as a result of the destruction of their habitats. The NDPM hopes to join the UNPO as a platform to promote and project the aspirations of the Niger Delta Peoples. They seek to promote their unity in the struggle for self-determination, in collaboration with the Ogonis, who are already a member, and seek to protect their environment against pollution, especially in light of the climate emergency threat and degradation caused by oil exploitation in the region.
Efforts have been made to address the issues facing the Niger Delta, including the establishment of the Niger Delta Development Commission (NDDC) and the Presidential Amnesty Program, aimed at improving infrastructure, promoting socio-economic development, and addressing the grievances of the local communities. However, more needs to be done to achieve sustainable development, restore the ecosystem, and ensure the well-being of the people living in the Niger Delta. It is crucial for the Nigerian government, international organizations, and local communities to work together in finding comprehensive solutions that can bring about lasting positive change for the region.
The Niger Delta region has a rich and diverse ancient history that spans thousands of years. Archaeological evidence suggests that human habitation in the area dates back to at least 10,000 years ago, with early inhabitants engaged in fishing, hunting, and farming. The region's strategic location along the Niger River and its tributaries made it a hub for trade and cultural exchange.
Several ancient kingdoms and city-states emerged in the Niger Delta region, each with its unique political and economic systems. The earliest known kingdom in the area was the Nri Kingdom, believed to have been established around the 10th century AD. The Nri Kingdom played a central role in the development of the Igbo civilization and was known for its religious and cultural practices, including the worship of deities and divination.
Another significant ancient kingdom in the Niger Delta region was the Benin Kingdom, which flourished from the 13th to the 19th century. The Benin Kingdom was renowned for its advanced bronze casting techniques, intricate artwork, and sophisticated political administration. It maintained a thriving trade network with European traders and neighboring states, and its rulers held considerable power and influence in the region.
The Ijaw and Itsekiri people also had their own powerful city-states in the Niger Delta. The Ijaw city-states, such as Nembe, Brass, and Warri, were known for their maritime prowess and engaged in extensive trade with European explorers and traders. The Itsekiri Kingdom, centered in Warri, controlled key trading routes and developed a strong naval force to protect its interests.
The Niger Delta region's ancient history is also intertwined with the transatlantic slave trade. European powers, particularly the Portuguese, Dutch, and British, established trading posts along the coast, exploiting the region's resources and capturing enslaved Africans for forced labour in the Americas. This dark period had a profound impact on the social, cultural, and economic dynamics of the region.
Nigeria's status as a modern state is largely a result of this colonization process by the British in the late 19th and early 20th centuries. Nigeria's formation as a British colony was driven by economic and political motives, rather than the natural development of a unified state. As a result, Nigeria's boundaries were drawn arbitrarily, disregarding the existing ethnic, linguistic, and cultural divisions within the region.
The British colonization of Nigeria began in the late 19th century with the establishment of trading posts along the Niger River. Over time, the British expanded their control over different parts of the region through a series of military campaigns and treaties with local leaders. By the early 20th century, the territories that comprise present-day Nigeria were under British colonial rule.
The British employed a policy of indirect rule, which involved governing through traditional rulers and existing power structures. This approach allowed the British to maintain control over the region with minimal resources and manpower. However, it also resulted in the reinforcement of existing divisions and rivalries among the diverse ethnic groups in Nigeria.
When Nigeria gained independence from British colonial rule in 1960, the country inherited a deeply fragmented society. The new Nigerian government faced significant challenges in managing the diverse ethnic, religious, and linguistic groups within its borders. These divisions have influenced Nigerian politics and have, at times, resulted in ethnic tensions, conflicts, and even civil war, such as the Nigerian-Biafran War from 1967 to 1970.
Furthermore, the British colonial legacy left Nigeria with an administrative and economic structure that was heavily centralized and often favoured the interests of the colonial power. This has contributed to ongoing debates and struggles for power, resource allocation, and the equitable distribution of wealth in Nigeria.