Ogoni: Niger Delta Would Not Back Down on 2007 Presidency Quest
Non-violent campaigner, Von Kemedy, has said that last Friday’s impeachment of the Bayelsa State Governor, Chief Diepreye Alamieyeseigha, will neither intimidate the Ijaw people nor the Niger Delta region from insisting on socio-economic justice and the nation’s presidency from 2007.
Speaking with our correspondent, the coordinator of People's Power Project (PPP), a grassroots pro-democracy movement, maintained that, “no matter what happens to Alamieyeseigha or any other governor in the Niger Delta, we are determined to insist on socio-economic, political and environmental justice. We will not give up until the fundamental problems of this country are resolved.”
Kemedy, a leading pro-democracy and human rights activist in the oil and gas region, said forces in Abuja tacitly used the travails of the former Bayelsa governor to exploit ethnic differences in the Niger Delta, to further divide and weaken the region’s quest for the 2007 presidency.
“In the 45-year history of Nigeria’s independence, we had erroneously thought the most repressive regime was that of the late General Sani Abacha (1993-1998). I think the peoples of the Niger Delta and their brothers and sisters of the Middle Belt today know better,” he added.
The activist further stated that, “there is a terrible record of environmental destruction and human rights violations in the country since May 29, 1999 than in all the other previous years. The gross level of environmental degradation caused by oil exploration and extraction in the Niger Delta is still going on unchecked.”
He said there is evidence to show that the oil companies have not only disregarded their responsibility towards the Niger Delta environment, but are allegedly still acting in complicity with the Nigerian state to visit repression on the citizenry.
“Their profit-drive collusion has cost many lives and continues to threaten
the stability of the Niger Delta,” Kemedy stated.
Meanwhile, the Ibom Peoples Congress (IPC), a United States-based non-profit organisation that claims to represent the interest of the peoples of the Niger Delta, has indicted the ruling Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) for allegedly refusing to stand up in defence of democracy in the handling of the Alamieyeseigha saga.
According to the group, the tactics of the PDP-led Federal Government in the Alamieyeseigha impeachment and agitations for justice in the oil region bear close semblance to those the late General Sani Abacha used in 1995 to ensure the conviction of leaders of the Movement for the Survival of the Ogoni People (MOSOP), Ken Saro-Wiwa and eight of his kinsmen.
The IPC leaders, Mark Etukudo and Tom Mbeke-Ekanem, stated that the history of Nigeria is predicated upon seething ethnic hegemony in all its ramifications, and consequently “the larger ones are doing everything to dominate and perpetually marginalise the minorities with their subtle and entrenched discriminatory political and economic policies of strangulation.”
The group pointed out that a similar situation occurred in November 1999 when Odi indigenes were massacred and their community obliterated, adding that the official attitude of government towards the Niger Delta would have been different if Kano, Sokoto and Ogun states were to be located within the region.
“Most parts of the Niger Delta are still under very primitive conditions with mud (adobe) buildings and thatched roofs as shelters, devoid of plumbing facilities, good drinking water, or electricity. Ironically, it is the very oil drilled from their backyards that fuels the entire Nigerian economy, contributing about 99 per cent of its Gross Domestic Products (GDP) and paying the salaries of the armed security forces occupying the region. Yet they are denied their fair share of the oil revenue,” the IPC said.
It, therefore, called on the oil region to dump President Olusegun Obasanjo and the PDP in 2007 as a show of protest for the pains brought on the Niger Delta peoples. The group also urged the electorate in the region to be ready to vote against any candidate or political party that goes against the area’s interest.