After the Ogoni declared autonomy in protest of failure of the Nigerian government to implement recommendations of a UNEP report on oil spills in Ogoniland, the Nigerian government claims it has started a clean up in the area as the report recommended.
Business Day Online reports that the Group Managing Director of the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC) Andrew Yakubu, said at an international oil and gas conference in Lagos Monday, that the NNPC and the Shell Producion and Development Company (SPDC) plead with the Ogoni to be patient as the government is taking steps to addresses the issue of oil spill in Ogoniland.
According to Business Day Online, Yakubu said: “Very soon, we shall be on ground in Ogoni and provide all the logistics to make the environment more habitable. Serious remediation work is going to be carried out and this would help to restore the affected environment to its natural situation even though the exercise is expensive.”
The NNPC boss said that contrary to the impression that the Federal Government was not acting on the recent UNEP report on oil spills in Ogoniland, a lot of work has been done in preparation for implementation of the recommendations of the report.
Hadiza Mailafia, Miniser of Environment, said on Monday, that the Federal Government was working hard to address the Ogoni environmental disaster. When she was asked why government was taking so long to implement the United Nation's Environment Progamme (UNEP) presented on August 4, 2011, she said the fuel subsidy protest was to blame for the delay.
The Nation reports she denied claims that the government was unconcerned about conditions in Ogoniland, saying: "I want to debunk the statement that nothing has been done. Perhaps you on the other side are waiting just to see us on the ground. If you go there you will find that groups of people have been going there depending on the nature of what they have to do. It is not a situation where you just take officers and equipment and drive into a system and say I am going to clean up, it is beyond sweeping. It is the whole task of trying to remediate a place that has been polluted for decades.”
The Punch reports that meanwhile, environmental activists at a national stakeholder's conference have called on the Shell Petroluem Development Company (SPDC) to pay the sum of $10 billion to address environmental pollution in Ogoniland. According to Ogoni News, the environmental experts and activists at a national stakeholder’s conference on the one year anniversary of the United Nations Environmental Programme (UNDP) have called on multinational oil companies, especially Shell Petroleum Development Company, to pay the sum of $10bn to address the problem of environmental pollution in Ogoniland.
The activists complained that one year after the release of the UNEP report, the Federal Government and Shell have failed to act. At the conference held in Abuja with the theme "UNEP report and the quest for ecological justice in Ogoniland," the activists threatened to mobilize all human rights groups in the country and civil society to picket Shell facilities. The activists also deliberated on other drastic measures to compel government and Shell to implement the UNEP recommendations. A US based Conservation Biologist Prof. Richard Steiner, represented by a former Chairman of the Nigerian Bar Association (Ikorodu branch), Mr. Nurudeen Ogbara, accused the Federal Government of politicising the matter, saying: “If the Federal Government of Nigeria remains unable or unwilling to resolve these issues immediately, I respectfully reiterate my 2006 request to the United Nations that it intervene and appoint a Niger Delta Reconciliation and Restoration Commission with autonomy and authority to do so." Steiner said: "The oil companies should be required to contribute an initial amount of $10bn to address the issues, with the opportunity to collect a greater amount as determined in future damages at its discretion.”
The August 2 Ogoni Declaration of Independence
According to Osun Defender, Dr.Goodluck Diigbo, president of Movement for Survival of the Ogoni People (MOSOP), in a live broadcast on the Voice of Ogoni, said: “By this declaration of political autonomy, we, the Ogoni people are determined to enforce the United Nations Declaration on Rights of Indigenous Peoples, without fear or retreat." According to Diigbo, self-government within Nigeria will help Ogoni secure their rights, meet their needs and interests and end "internal colonialism."
Diigbo asserted that declaration of self-government was essential for the Ogoni and the Nigerian state to arrive at a consensus to collectively review the disputed UNEP Ogoniland Oil Assessment report, because genuine dialogue can take place only with elected representatives of the people in the absence of responsive government.
Osun Defender provides excerpts from Diigbo's statement on August 2.
In 1990, we the people of Ogoni presented the Ogoni Bill of Rights to the Government and people of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, in which the Ogoni nonviolently demanded among other indigenous rights.
Political autonomy to participate in the affairs of the Republic as a distinct and separate indigenous unit (by whatever name called), provided that this autonomy guarantees political control of Ogoni affairs by Ogoni people; The right to control and use a fair proportion of Ogoni economic resources for Ogoni development; adequate representations, as of right, in all Nigerian national institutions, and the right to protect the Ogoni environment and ecology from further degradation as recognized under international law to which Nigeria is obligated.
Nigeria, a multi-ethnic nation state, a legacy of the British colonial administration, granted political independence October 1, 1960, after the British violated Ogoni independence in 1901, did not respond to the Ogoni, inhabiting their ancestral land in southern Nigeria.
When in the struggle for indigenous political autonomy; especially, in matters concerning confiscation of sacred ancestral lands for oil production without prior informed consent, there comes a moment to assert powers derived from the consent of the people and Natures blessings in order to protect, preserve and pass on inherited sacred ancestral heritage to succeeding indigenous generations. On behalf of the entire Ogoni people, I am highly honored to present these issues surrounding the proposed Ogoni Declaration of Political Autonomy.
Part of Full Text
30. That despite the fact that the Nigerian Constitution and other laws and policies provide for a local government system, in reality, the local government constitutional provisions meant to extend the principle of Federalism to its logical conclusion, by bringing the government to the grassroots level, do not apply in Ogoniland as a result of corruption and public deception by local and state political actors and the lack of enforcement of the shaky Nigerian constitution by the federal government;
31. That, this is because quite often local governments are frequently dissolved in Ogoniland without any explanation rendered to the Ogoni people;
32. That, essential appointments into local government service are often suspended for several years without information to the Ogoni people about the reason for such suspension, when the local authorities still operate budgetary provisions for needed manpower;
33. That the elected representatives who have supported this proposed declaration of political autonomy for the Ogoni people as they have bitterly complained that the present system of local government in Nigeria does not allow them the freedom to govern according to the wishes of the people;
34. That individual local government chairman has to remit monthly allowances in substantial amounts to those politicians at the state and national levels that put them into office;
35. That since local government operators are often imposed on the people, they, the local operators are required to compensate for the way they are often put into office through massive and violent rigging of elections;
36. That in the circumstance, the local operators, expected to respond to yearnings of their grassroots constituencies have become perpetually vulnerable to threats of illegal removal from office without reference to the electorate;
37. That, we the Ogoni people take very serious, the complaint by the Ogoni local officials that have confessed that they still hold office because they are able to settle their political godfathers, meaning political stalwarts that planted them as conduit pipe for siphoning funds meant to help in the development of Ogoni villages and wellbeing of Ogonis;
38. That the application indigenous rights will end this manner of abuse of power and mismanagement of public resources as the representatives of the people have been duly elected by the people in Ogoni, and controlled by the people and to end the system whereby politicians handpicked by political operators at the national and state levels, remain in office without accountability to the people as long as they satisfy those who put them into office.
39. That the local government employees, some in service for over 30 years cannot even afford a good meal with their families, but have seen politicians that come into the local councils buying houses in Port Harcourt and Abuja, even in overseas countries within six months in office.
40. That we believe that the Ogoni people are equal to all other Nigerians that now lord it over the Ogoni by means of indirect internal colonial rule through the corrupt local government system, which violates indigenous rights of the Ogoni people.
Now, therefore, acting on the General Assembly mandate on the questions relating to the Political Autonomy of Ogoni in southern Nigeria, and in the spirit of the General Assembly motion DPA/001/2012, and its resolutions DPA/002/2012 and DPA/003/2012 adopted and approved on July 31, 2012; in accordance with the wishes of the Ogoni people contained in the Ogoni Bill of Rights of 26 August, 1990 as revised on the 26th of August 1991; expressing the collective will of the good people of Ogoni in the referendum of 2010 and the second referendum of 2011, obeying the command by the Ogoni people and their elected representatives from 33 district councils, comprising over 272 village councils, living in the six kingdoms of Ogoni, namely: Babbe, Eleme, Gokana, Kenkhana, Nyokhana and Tai and two administrative units: Ban Goi and the Bori National Territory; conducting this solemn affair in accordance with the United Nations Declaration on Rights of Indigenous Peoples adopted by United Nations General Assembly in New York on September 13, 2007, guided by the purposes and principles of international law in accordance with the United Nations Charter, I, Dr. Goodluck Diigbo, hereby make this historic statement, to announce the proclamation of this General Assembly Declaration of Political Autonomy for the Self-determination or Self-government of the Ogoni people within Nigeria, today, the 2nd Day of August, 2012. So declared, and so be it; for the advancement of liberty in freedom and the preservation of the ancestral heritage of the Ogoni people.
Dr. Goodluck Diigbo