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Self Determination: NDC Unveils Niger Delta Charter, Commences Enforcement
Sylvester Idowu in Warri
As part of strategies to actualise self-determination and resource control, the Niger Delta Congress (NDC) at the weekend unveiled the Niger Delta Peoples Charter with a vow to immediately begin enforcement of the demands in the document.
Key components of the charter include the need to revise the Nigerian Constitution to capture the demands of people of the Niger Delta as recommended in the National Conferences convened in recent times.
Others are the immediate assessment of the entire region’s environment to determine the scale of devastation, speedy payment of compensations earlier recommended, and complete cleanup of the entire Niger Delta region.
The charter also includes the return of all monies received by the Nigerian Government from the exploitation of crude oil due to the Niger Delta people under the guise of “derivation formula.”
National President of the Niger Delta Congress, Nubari Sataah, while unveiling the charter in Warri, Delta State, said the enforcement of the document would be implemented after series of town hall meetings across the region.
He allayed the fears of employing violence in the renewed agitation, noting: “There is nothing we are doing that is bad. We are simply putting machineries in motion to get our right.”
Sataah lamented that since the National Assembly started the processes for constitutional review, recommendations made by the Niger Delta Congress so far were not captured by the lawmakers.
He noted that the oil resources, which the entire country has benefitted from, is almost on its way out, wondering what would happen to the Niger Delta people in the next 20 years.
According to him, “Yet Warri (Delta State), Bayelsa State, and other areas in the region are like ghettos. The same thing that affects me as an Ogoni man, affects Itsekiri, Ijaw and other tribes in the region. We no longer want to be subjugated. What bothers us is the same. The plan is to unite all ethnic groups in the Niger Delta, even though we have our minor differences. The political trajectory as it is in the country now, is such that nobody is sure if election would hold next year.
“There are internally displaced persons (IDPs) in some parts of the Niger Delta and nobody is talking about it. We are fighting for our survival at this point in time, beyond resource control. Today’s event is an attempt to guide us on the need to build collective identity as a region, whilst maintaining our individual ethnic identity. We have limited time to set the tone for action.”
Also, a Warri-based legal practitioner and development advocate, Chief Robinson Ariyo, who spoke on the subject: ‘Ethnic diversity and the socio-economic development of the Niger Delta’, commended the congress, noting that it is more difficult to crush a united people than a divided people.
Meanwhile, a lecture in the Niger Delta University (NDU), Bayelsa State, Dr. Charles Oyibo, while speaking on ‘Ecocide, the gradual annihilation of people of the Niger Delta’, warned that 20 million people in the oil and gas-rich region are at risk as a result of environmental pollution, stressing the need to discourage all forms of environmental pollution by the locals and IOCs.
Unveiling of the Niger Delta Peoples Charter by the Vice President of NDC, Kemedengiyefa Opia, was followed by the declaration of April 23 as Niger Delta Day after a motion to that effect was moved by the Delta State Chairman of NDC, Destiny Noritsegho.