Fittingly, the plight of the people of Niger Delta region and orchestrated militancy which has become a painful consequence of prostrated neglect and low investments in the region by our leaders explain the above contrast and in order words, act as an essential step towards understanding action-decision, or error of judgement that currently perpetuates poverty, consolidates powerlessness and promotes restiveness in the region.
For close to six decades, nothing prevented successive administrations from developing the region both infrastructurally and in manpower/job creation, yet, for reasons taken ahead of logic, they decided to act on the part of unprofitability- a choice that has become costly in political and economic terms for the nation. This is a lesson we must not allow to go with the political wind but keep in view even as we reflect on other causative factors and institutional attitudes that have left a big question about our nation unanswered.
Without a doubt, away from other institutional failures that have kept the region on its knees, what has really brought pressing concern, heightened the sense of insecurity and underlined the urgency of attention is the inability of the National Human Rights Commission to rise onto its constitutional responsibility to the people of the region. A failure that has resulted in the generation of misinformation, disinformation, innuendos, falsehood and outright assault on reason(s) fueling backward nature of the Niger-Delta regions.
Notably, Nigerians have witnessed so many heartbroken families without a good record of survival in the region, as a result of government’s insensitivity. Government on their part have made so many speeches and excuses without adoption of, or abide by the basic principles that helped other nations to grow in social cohesion through equitable sharing of benefits from the mineral deposits from the region.
And, in the face of this verifiable violations and deprivations, the National Human Rights Commission- a commission on whose shoulder the nation rests the responsibility for promotion, protection and enforcement of human rights failed to inform the government that it is only through equity, justice, and restructuring of the nation that the country would enjoy economic and social progress that flows from stability.
The stunning thing about the Commission’s inaction is that it is happening when the global community is aware that communal rights to a clean environment and access to clean water supplies are being violated in the region, with aquifers and other water supply sources being adversely affected by industrial or other activities without the communities being adequately compensated for their losses. And the oil industry by its admission has abandoned thousands of polluted sites in the region which need to be identified and studied in details.
As a background, the National Human Right Commission which was established by the National Human Right Act 1995, has as its aim to; creating an enabling environment for extra-judicial recognition, promotion, protection and enforcement of human rights, in addition to providing a forum for public enlightenment and dialogue on human rights while facilitating the implementation of Nigeria’s various international and regional treaty obligation on human rights issues.
Shockingly ‘interesting’ is that despite the not too impressive performance of NHRC, The commission is not without supporters.
While many argue that the Commission cannot be blamed for environmental woes resulting from oil exploration and production in the Niger Delta region as the agency cannot investigate without complaint or petition from either group or individual- as wading in without invitation amounts to descending into the arena. Some expressed the views that the plight of the Niger Deltans resulting from faulty/weak legal framework should be directed to the National Assembly as the Commission is not the legislative arm of the government. To others, expecting the Commission to enforce compliance will translate to waiting till eternity as they are neither staffed with security operatives like the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC), nor equipped with technical knowledge like the Federal Ministry of environment, to detect when organizations are not applying international best practices in their operations.
Though clear enough, this point cannot hold water when faced with a number of embarrassing facts.
Fundamentally, separate from the belief that ‘the environment is as important to the nation’s wellbeing as the economy and should deserve similar attention’, their arguments remain sophistry looking at the functions and powers of the commission as provided in Section 5 of its enabling Act. Which provides that the commission shall deal with all matters relating to the promotion and protection of human rights as guaranteed by the constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria and other human rights instruments to which Nigeria is a party; Monitor and investigate all alleged cases of human rights violations in Nigeria and make appropriate recommendation to the federal government for the prosecution and such other actions as it may deem expedient in each circumstance. And assist victims of human rights violation seek appropriate redress and remedies on their behalf.
Admittedly, NHRC may not have the power to make laws as argued above, but can engineer people-purposed oil exploration and production regime by collaborating with the National Assembly through sponsorship of Bills and Memoranda; NHRC may be technically disempowered to investigate or detect operators non-adherence to the international best practice, but have the power to productively partner with other government Ministries and agencies that perform this task both effectively and efficiently; the Commission may not be capped with taskforce to enforce standards, but can assist communities where such violation has taken place with legal actions against such violator. The vitality of such support will enrich litigation in favour of the communities; deepen the respect for the Commission among the operators while lifting litigation cost from communities.
There are other similar but separate examples.
Without going into specifics, concepts, provisions and definitions, it’s been identified that the oil exploration and production in Nigeria are guided by so many laws. Yet, available data and our mind’s eye testify that these laws/Acts in question are no longer achieving their purpose.
As an incentive, it will not be wrong or vague to classify the critical issues confronting the region into two; the existence of multiple but an absolute regulatory framework which characterizes the oil and gas exploration and production in Nigeria and fuels International Oil Companies (IOC’s) reluctance to adhere strictly to the international best practices as it relates to their operational environment. Secondly, the unwillingness of successive administrations to identify the Niger Delta as a troubled spot, that must be regarded as a special area for purposes of development-as recommended by The colonial government long before independence.
Against this backdrop, Nigerians would have expected NHRC as a responsive and responsible organisation to ask; if truly these laws are fundamentally effective and efficient, why are they not providing strong source of remedy for individuals and communities negatively affected by oil exploration and production in the coastal communities as the lives of the people in that region currently portrays? If these frameworks exist and have been comprehensive as a legal solution to the issues of oil-related violations, why are they not enforceable?
In like manner, using the African Commission’s decision on Human and Peoples’ Rights against the Federal Military Government of Nigeria in October 2001, as a case study, one may be tempted to ask what effort is NHRC making to ensure that the verdict passed close to two decades ago and other various international and regional obligations on human rights issues are implimented.
The NHRC cannot pretend to be unaware of the response by ACHPR to the communication filed by the Social and Economic Rights Action Center (SERAC) in close collaboration with the New York-based Centre for Economic and Social Rights(CESR), with suit Number 155/96, where the commission in October 2001, gave a well-considered rule finding the Federal Republic of Nigeria in violations of 2, 4, 14, 16, 18(1),21 and 24 of the African Charter on Human and Peoples’ Rights (ACHPR), and therefore recommended a total clean up of the polluted Ogoni and other adjourning communities in addition to taking preventive remedial and compensatory measures to improve economic and social outcomes for the Ogoni community.
Even if the Commission provides an answer to the above, it will not in any appreciable way erase the belief among Nigerians with critical interest that the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP), report on Ogoni land pollution also indicted the Federal Government.
To, therefore, succeed in this job, it must be stated that neither the Amnesty programmes nor the Niger Delta Development Commission (NDDC), among other initiatives can solve the problem of the region. Rather, it would be considered a right step taken in the right direction if the NHRC communicate to Mr President of the need to have the Petroleum Industry Bill as passed by the 8th Assembly signed into law as well as organize a public hearing construed around Niger Delta challenge of which the outcome will address other nagging national issues such as restructuring and fiscal federalism.
Jerome-Mario Utomi (email@example.com) writes from Lagos.
Isoko Women Protest N20m Oil Largesse
According to Saharareporters
A group of Niger Delta women in Uzere community under Isoko South Local Government Area of Delta State on Thursday embarked on a peaceful protest, demanding their own shares of the N20m skills acquisition fund donated by the Nigerian Petroleum Development Company to the community youths.
Recall that earlier this month, youths in the community disagreed with the town’s leadership over how the N20m skills acquisition fund should be spent.
As a result of tension raised by the development, the Isoko South Security Council had ordered the immediate suspension of the community’s 2019 annual mid-year conference to avoid any form of breakdown of law and order.
In their protest on Thursday, the women demanded that until their own share of the fund was given to them, the protest will degenerate into something else.
One of the women, who spoke with our correspondent and simply gave her name as Martha, said, “The youth cannot take the whole money.
“What about us the women? Our share must be given to us and until that is done, the protest will be a continuous one.”
Efforts to speak with the leadership of the community proved abortive as calls put across to the President-General of the town, Felix Ewenede, were not responded to as at the time of this report.
Stop Blaming Omo-Agege For Ogboru’s Woe
According to UrhoboToday website
Content By Aruviere Martin Egharhevwa
One is at a lost why Senator Ovie Omo-Agege has suddenly become the man who failed to deliver for Ogboru whereas, the man fought all the demons in the PDP family to a standstill in Ughelli north and delivered all available elective positions in his local government area for the APC. From the President, Senate, Governor, House of Representatives and House of Assembly, all the APC candidates won in Ughelli North local government area. How then did the man betray APC, much more, Great Ogboru, in the last general elections?
As we all know, Ughelli north is the home to the then Secretary to the State Government, Chief Ovie Agas; Commissioner for Finance, Chief David Edevbie; Former Minister for Niger Delta Affairs, Dr Steve Oru; DESOPADEC Commissioner, Chief Pius Ovbije; Chairman of the local government, Coach Tete, who is PDP, 20 Councillors who are PDP, over 70 Special Assistants to the Governor, Board members, and other political office holders with a marching order to deliver their units, yet Omo-Agege was able to fight through the fire to secure a handsome victory for Ogboru. The likes of Dr Isaac Akpoveta, Chief Barr Asawota, are all from Ughelli North yet Omo-Agege delivered. So why blame him for fighting so hard for the party? Did he at anytime promise to deliver the entire state for Ogboru? It was a difficult fight in Ughelli north one yet he delivered. If other APC leaders across Delta state did close to what Omo-Agege did, Ogboru would have been governor today.
Whilst I will not subscribe to the blame game, one area that we cannot ignore is the failure of APC chieftains in their respective local government areas. First on the list of those that one must interrogate is Dr Emmanuel Uduaghan, former governor of Delta state who did three elections against Great Ogboru, and ended up being Chairman of Ogboru Campaigns Council for the 2019 polls. He is from Warri North and failed woefully. Was anybody expecting Omo-Agege to deliver Warri North for Ogboru?
Septuagenarian Abbei Ossai, Chief Great Ogboru’s running mate in the election from Abbi, Ukwuani local government area, lost in his unit, ward and local government, yet Omo-Agege is to blame. Why? What of Chief George Timinimi, Ogboru’s Campaign Director General from Warri South West in Gbaramatu kingdom lost in his local government, and could not stop the Sokoto votes from that end, yet Omo-Agege is to blame. Sir Richard Odibo, a Federal Commissioner with the National Population Commission and Great Ogboru’s man Friday, a man who had served as DG to Ogboru in previous polls and one of the closest allies to the Peoples General could not deliver Udu for Ogboru. Is Omo-Agege to blame for the failure? How about Mr. Peter Omaruaye, Chief Ogboru’s Campaign Organization’s Secretary from Gbaregolor, Ughelli south local government area, in Ewu ward 2? He lost his ward and his local government to the rampaging PDP. Chief Ayiri Emami, the Ologbosere of Warri Kingdom, one of Ogboru’s trusted political forces who boasted in an interview that it was over for Okowa, could not deliver also. Yet somebody want Omo-Agege to answer for Ogboru’s bashing at the polls.
Other leaders who disappointed Ogboru include Mrs. Amokwu Harriet, the Director of Finance for Ogboru campaigns from Ika South in Delta North who is credited with the honour of having singlehandedly selecting all the APC candidates from Delta North in the election, yet could not deliver. A source within the party disclosed that Mrs Amokwu Harriet was so powerful that whatever agreement one had with Ogboru could be overturned in a minute once this powerful woman from Delta north disagree. Yet she could not deliver her local government area for Ogboru. Alero Tenuma, Ogboru’s Director of Women Mobilization from Warri south lost in her local government area too. She was overrun with merciless ferocity. Dr Cairo Ojugboh, who boasted that Okowa was already history a few days to the elections could not deliver his Ika South for Ogboru yet somebody is blaming Omo-Agege. Why? Is Omo-Agege to blame for the failure of these leaders? What of Chief Enuha, who announced prior to the polls that they have joined forces with Ogboru to deliver the state for APC? Would they have credited Omo-Agege with anything if they had delivered in their respective local government areas?
Information before me says that as soon as Ogboru emerged as the party flag-bearer, Omo-Agege was almost edged out of the inner working of the campaigns. All the directors were picked without consultation with the Senator yet he did not complain. With Dr Emmanuel Uduaghan in charge of campaigns, he was contented with working for the party and delivering handsomely in his local government area. And that was exactly what he did. Ogboru picked those he trusted to man strategic positions in building the campaign structure, picked his running mate without consultation with the Senator which almost soured their relationship but for the understanding and maturity demonstrated by Omo-Agege. The much touted federal might was available to all APC leaders yet they could not deliver. Most campaign meetings were held in Emmanuel Uduaghan’s residence. A water-tight plan was put in place but many failed to execute the strategy. Is Omo-Agege to blame for the failure of these leaders?
Politics is a very complex and complicated affair. If Ogboru had won, credit would have gone to Dr Emmanuel Uduaghan as an award-winning Chairman of Campaign Council. Now that they have failed, they should take responsibility for the woeful performance instead of blaming the only man who delivered in his local government area. Blaming Omo-Agege for the failure is a despicable political misadventure. Dr Ifeanyi Okowa’s victory at the polls cannot be attributed to any one person. The PDP leaders delivered in their respective local government areas. They were determined. They knew what they were up against and fought like never before. In the PDP circle, nothing was left to chance. Unlike Great Ovedje Ogboru and the Delta APC Campaign Council, the PDP campaigned like never before. They took their campaigns to all the nooks and cranny of the state. The PDP campaign was thorough and unit-driven. They knew what the loss of federal might portends and therefore resolved to win in the field by connecting the people and promoting popular programmes that appeal to the people. Omo-Agege is not responsible for Ogboru’s woes. When you failed to deliver your unit and ward, you want to blame Ovie Omo-Agege. Why?
Leaders who could not deliver their units and LGA should be blamed for Ogboru’s dismal performance. Omo-Agege delivered handsomely and should be applauded. The two APC House of Assembly candidates from Ughelli north won. What else did the party expect from Omo-Agege that he did not do? He got himself so many enemies at home and abroad all because of Ogboru. Whoever loves APC in Delta state should desist from blaming Omo-Agege, the hard-fighting political maestro, the real ‘Omovodjotu’ of Delta politics, a single combatant that vanquished many, the nemesis of the PDP family in Ughelli north and Delta Central and the Obarisi of Delta politics. He knows the game. He dreams and lives the game. He delivered where others fail. Rather than blame him, the distinguished Senator Ovie Omo-Agege deserves commendation
Okowa Calls Ogboru For Partnership To Move Delta State Forward
Delta Governor, Senator (Dr) Ifeanyi Okowa, has urged his rival in the March 9, 2019 gubernatorial election, Chief Great Ogboru of the All Progressive Congress (APC), to join his administration in building a stronger state.
He made the call on Friday at an inter-denominational thanksgiving service shortly after the reaffirmation of his electoral victory by the Governorship Election Petitions Tribunal, which sat in Asaba.
“I appeal to my brother, Ogboru, that the time has come to stop fighting; it is time to partner together to do the best that we can for our people.
“I appeal that enough is enough; it is time to build Delta State together for the good of our people.
“I ask for the hands of the opposition, because Delta State is for all of us; we cannot do it alone and I want to thank our supporters and all Deltans for praying for us.
“We require the assistance of all in prayer and in human partnership, and we must continue to pray for our state and our country, because we believe that our prayer will save our country.
“As Deltans, we must hold firmly to the Lord, because Delta State will continue to remain peaceful and united as we will prosper together,” he said.
The governor, who also thanked his legal team and former President of the Senate, Sen. David Mark, who attended the service in company with his wife, assured Deltans that the next four years would be more fruitful than his first tenure.
Earlier in his sermon, the Government House Chaplain, Venerable Charles Osemenem, had said that God ruled the affairs of men.
According to him, because God is interested in the affairs of man, we should be careful and mindful of what we do; let us acknowledge God in all our ways because, our God never fails.
“When He opens a door, nobody can close it,” the chaplain said.
Wife of the Governor, Dame Edith Okowa, the Deputy Governor, Mr Kingsley Otuaro; Sen. James Manager, House of Representatives member, Ndudi Elumelu; Speaker, Delta House of Assembly, Sheriff Oborovweri, were among dignitaries at the service.
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