Posts Tagged ‘niger delta’

Empower us or we go back to our operation, ex-illegal oil refiners tell FG

 Former illegal oil refiners in Rivers State have vowed to continue in their illegal dealings in petroleum products until the Federal Government provides them with empowerment.

The artisanal refiners, who are mainly drawn from the Ogoni extraction, noted that they cannot leave their only source of survival until the Federal Government provides them an alternative.

Their position was disclosed to Minister of State for Environment and Chairman, Governing Council, Hydrocarbon Pollution Remediation Project, Ibrahim Jibrin, in Port Harcourt, at a one-day consultative meeting organised by the office of the Project Coordination, HYPREP.

Speaking for the ex-artisanal refiners, Mr. Domka Humphrey said they can only stop refining petroleum products illegally if the Federal Government empowers them and include them in the remediation process in Ogoni.

Humphrey said: “Sir, I will tell you our minds, if you don’t empower us, we will not stop refining, because this is what we feed our families and relations with. We don’t have anything doing after government took away the pipeline surveillance from us.

“So, we need to be carried  along. Some of us are graduates,  many people are still in the bush refining, if you empower us, we will talk to them and they will leave the bush. But where we are not seeing anything, it will  be very difficult for us to leave the illegal refining.”

Meanwhile, Minister of State for Environment, Ibrahim Jibrin, in his address to the ex-artisanal refiners, said: “I have heard all of you, I’m assuring you that the issue will get to the acting President, but remember that you have fishes of all kinds, animals, we cannot get them if you contaminate the water with hydrocarbon pollution.”

“It is in our interest to keep our environment clean, it is in our own interest to ensure that whatever we must do, we have to take care of our environment. That is why the Federal Government has taken the issue of modular refinery seriously.  It is community-based. It is going to be regulated. There is need for us to organise ourselves into responsible cooperatives.”

Quit Notice: Leave Niger Delta before October 1, agitators tell northerners

A coalition of Niger Delta agitators on Thursday handed down an ultimatum to Northerners and Yoruba from south west zone resident in the region to vacate before October 1. The coalition also said that it is set to resume the bombings of major oil and gas installation in the coastal region. Made of up 8 frontline groups, the agitators also dissociated itself from the leadership and membership of Pan Niger Delta Forum, PANDEF, warning the Federal Government to stop dealing with the body on their behalf. Recall that PANDEF led by eminent leaders of Niger Delta including a former Federal Commissioner for Information, Chief Edwin Clarke met twice with Acting President Yemi Osinbajo recently at the Presidential Villa, Abuja. The meeting was principally to articulate lasting solution to the challenges of the people in the region. But in a statement signed by the leaders of the groups, the agitators said that they had resolved to declare Republic of Niger Delta on October 1, also mandating the federal government to return all the oil wells given to non indigenes of the region to them. They also congratulated the Yoruba for their intention to declare Oduduwa Republic, saying that they would work in tandem with the South East and Middle Belt to achieve economic and diplomatic developments. The signatories to the statement included General John Duku (Niger Delta Watchdogs and Convener Coalition of Niger Delta Agitators); General Ekpo Ekpo ( Niger Delta Volunteers); General Osarolor Nedam (Niger Delta Warriors) and Major-Gen. Henry Okon Etete (Niger Delta Peoples Fighters). Others were Major-Gen. Asukwo Henshaw for Bakassi Freedom Fighters; Major-Gen. Ibinabo Horsfall for Niger Delta Movement for Justice; Major-Gen. Duke Emmanson for Niger Delta Fighters Network and Major-Gen. Inibeghe Adams for Niger Delta Freedom Mandate. The statement read in full: “At the general council meeting of the Coalition of Niger Delta Agitators (CNDA) involving surveillance department, intelligence department and commanding officers held today to deliberate on the recent development in the Niger Delta and Pan Niger Delta Forum (PANDEF) meeting with the Acting President, after hours of careful deliberations, we unanimously resolved as follows: “To commence Operation Zero Oil in the Niger Delta from September 10, 2017 as a preparation for the actualization of Niger Delta Republic “We totally condemn the recent meeting between PANDEF and the Acting President; we see it as another plot to deceive the Niger Delta people. First and foremost, the meeting was marred with inordinate greed of the PANDEF as they did not involve the representatives of the Agitating groups and youths leaders. We wish to let the Acting President to know that those he met have no capacity and cannot solve the current crisis in the Niger Delta; therefore they cannot represent the militants or speak for the Niger Delta people. “The Coalition unanimously adopts to stand by the previous demands, which are: 100% percent control of our resources. “The Federal Government should hand over all oil blocks owned by the Northerners/Yoruba to Niger Delta indigenes. “All Oil companies operating in such oil blocks/wells should vacate October 1st, 2017. “Relocation of NNPC to any of the Niger Delta state and replacement of the Group Managing Director with an indigene of region. “All the Multinational Oil, Gas, Servicing and Marine Companies must relocate their operational base to the Niger Delta; sign a new Memorandum of Understanding with Niger Delta people which would include Niger Delta indigenes being paid same salaries with foreigners. “We demand independence and sovereign Republic of Niger Delta, all the companies and business owned by the Northerners / Yoruba in Niger Delta should be vacated before 1st October 2017, we accept and congratulate the Yoruba for demanding Oduduwa Republic and we wish them success. “We hereby call on all agitating groups to resume attacks/bombings on all oil/gas pipelines, especially the exporting lines across the Niger Delta region from September 10, 2017. This is to ensure zero oil/gas production before October 1, 2017. “We shall work to interface with more patriotic and zealous Niger Delta people to work out new collective approach that will ensure total freedom and complete control of our resources by any means necessary. “We shall from henceforth, fight to liberate ourselves from the shackles of neo-colonialism and rule ourselves under a Niger Delta Republic, with diplomatic and economic relations with the peoples of the South East and Middle Belt. “Finally, we want to inform the federal government of Nigeria and the general public that we no longer recognize PANDEF under the present leadership as they are working against the interest of the Niger Delta people.”

Restructuring: Southern leaders invite North to re-negotiate Nigeria

Nigerian FlagSouthern leaders yesterday invited their colleagues from the North to renegotiate Nigeria, saying the country was approaching a terminal crisis from which it cannot recover unless it is restructured along the paths of the 1963 Constitution.  Noting that the National Assembly’s rejection of the proposal for devolution was against popular demand, the southern leaders vowed to press on with their demand until the issue was brought to a conclusion. The leaders, drawn from the three geopolitical zones of the South, also berated  security agencies for threatening to deal with agitators of the country’s restructuring describing it as empty and ineffective threats.”  The Southern leaders who met under the aegis of the Southern Leaders Forum, in Lagos, included among others, Chief Adebanjo; former Director General of the Department of State Service, Chief A.K Horsfall; former President of Ohanaeze Ndigbo, Prof Joe Irukwu; Gen Ike Nwachukwu, Secretary of the Yoruba Council of Elders, Dr Kunle Olajide; Afenifere chieftain, Dr Amos Akingba and erstwhile chairman of the Niger Delta Development Commission, Senator Bassey Ewa-Henshaw. Also present were Vanguard Publisher, Mr. Sam Amuka; former Senate Chief Whip, Senator Stella Omu, Col Tony Nyiam (retd); and Chief Guy Ikokwu among others. Afenifere Publicity Secretary, Mr Yinka Odumakin, who read the communiqué of the forum, said: “We do not want a Nigeria where any section will live as slaves of another, but rather we want a Nigeria where all citizens irrespective of their ethnic or religious affiliation are able to live their lives to the fullest and in happiness without let or hindrance. We hold dearly that anyone who is opposed to this vision is an enemy of Nigeria of our dream.” Knocks for National Assembly Flaying the decision of the National Assembly to shoot down the proposal on devolution of powers during the recent constitution alteration exercise, he said: “Their decision reflects the deepest disregard for the popular demand for the freeing of more powers to the federating units from our shocking central government. Instead of devolving power, the National Assembly has now given us a stronger centre that will now conduct elections in local governments against extant provisions of the federalism.” “It is obvious that the National Assembly has taken itself out of the resolution of the Nigerian crisis by foreclosing devolution of power. Unknown to the lawmakers, they have unwittingly given more ammunition to self-determination forces by attempting to collapse the restructuring column in the battle for the soul of Nigeria.” “It would, however, be short-sighted for the National Assembly and their sympathisers to think this is the end of the matter. The demand for restructuring cannot end with their decisions as Nigeria has reached a terminal crisis from which it cannot recover except it is restructured.” Vowing to continue on its insistence for the restructuring of Nigeria, the leaders said “for emphasis, the restructuring we demand is a return to principles of federalism in Nigeria as obtained in the 1963 Constitution, which allowed the federating units to have autonomy over their local affairs to create a Nigeria that sustains the principles of fairness, equity, respect for all constituent units of Nigeria.” “We restate in clear terms that this country has gone through war once and it is not likely to survive another one. The only way therefore to have a peaceful Nigeria is to have a country based on justice and equity for all Nigerians. In order to achieve the above, there is need for sacrifices on all sides as the only insurance for peace and justice is equity. Saving Nigeria from destruction and crisis “We, therefore, call for immediate meeting of well-meaning leaders from the South and the North to find a way to save Nigeria from destruction and crisis. An urgent return to the principles our founding fathers agreed as the basis for our independence is the only way out for Nigeria as most sectors of our country have lost faith in the provisions of the 1999 Constitution.” On the threat to deal with agitators of the country’s restructuring, the forum chided the security operatives, saying: “Lastly, we are aware of the threat issued from the recent security meeting in Abuja where operatives of the government were issuing threats against agitators for renegotiation of the polity. We, therefore, say that such threats are not taking into account the realities on the ground,” the forum said. Reacting to the Acting President’s remarks that restructuring agitators were looking for appointments, Adebanjo who spoke on the sidelines of the meeting said: “That is a very unfortunate statement. I would not like it  to appear that we are attacking our acting president. The Acting President was born on the principle of restructuring. Myself and his father were followers of Awolowo since the 1950s.” Speaking further, he said: “He cannot say we are looking for appointment, is it me or Horsfall or Gen. Ike Nwachukwu? It just shows someone in position, but does not understand the problem of the people he is leading. It is an unfortunate statement to make, I am not going to engage in a brickbats with him, it shows the limit of his knowledge of how the country came together. I think he should know better. He is not only a lawyer, he has been an Attorney-General and Vice President.”

We no longer want to be part of Nigeria-Niger Delta Youths

THE Reformed Egbesu Fraternity, REF, a coalition of militant groups in the Niger Delta region, Thursday, advocated the peaceful dissolution of Nigeria into Arewa Islamic Republic, Biafra Republic, Oduduwa Republic, Republic of the Niger Delta (RONDEL) and the Republic of the Middle Belt to be collectively known and addressed as the United Republics of Nigeria. REF, comprising Egbesu Mightier Fraternity (EMF), Egbesu Red Water Lions (ERL) and the Egbesu Marine Commandoes (EMC) in a statement by the General Officer Commanding, self-styled “Gen” Tony Alagbakereowei, called on the United Nations, UN, British Prime Minister and President Donald Trump of the United States to conduct a referendum for the quiet disbanding of the Nigerian state. “We reaffirm our collective resolve to actualize the Republic of the Niger Delta (RONDEL) which had been proclaimed in 1966; taken into cognizance the reality that there is nothing yet binding us as a people rather than the crude oil and the gas in the Niger Delta,” the group said. Its words: “We call on the British Prime Minister, President Donald Trump of the United States and the United Nations (UN) to conduct referendum for the peaceful dissolution of the Nigerian states into: Arewa Islamic Republic, Biafra Republic, Oduduwa Republic, Republic of the Niger Delta (RONDEL) and the Republic of the Middle Belt to be collectively known and addressed as the United Republics of Nigeria based on the principles of non-exodus and non-violence,” the coalition said. It asserted: “We strongly restate our commitment and dedication to this model as it is the irreducible minimum acceptable political requirement for the ethnic nationalities of the Niger Delta, (the Ijaws) in particular, to remain in the Nigerian state.” The coalition, which recently pulled out of the Niger Delta peace process, added: “We consider this as the best option to avoid the impending humanitarian crisis of a full-blown Nigeria civil war and armed revolution would precipitate upon the African continent and the world at large.” On why it pulled out of the peace process, the group said that its action was catalyzed more by “the recent rejection of political restructure and devolution of power to the constituent units of the Federal Republic of Nigeria by the roguish Senate vis-à-vis the loud agitations for the sovereign states of Biafra. Arewa Islamic and Oduduwa Republics based on Articles 3 – 5 of the United Nations declarations / convection on self- determination for indigenous peoples of the world ratified by Nigeria.” It reiterated: “At age 90, Papa Clark should step aside for younger people if at all, there is the likelihood of further engagement with the Federal Government,” adding: “but we equally dissociate ourselves from the antics of the federal Government in the peace process and calls for outright destruction of the oil economy in our territories and communities to teach the Federal Government a hard lesson.”

Ijaw group gives Dickson 7 days to revoke allocation of land to herdsmen

A coalition of Ijaw groups across the Niger Delta region on the platform of Ijaw Peoples Development Initiative, IPDI, yesterday, gave the Bayelsa State governor, Mr Seriake Dickson, a seven-day ultimatum to revoke the allocation of 1,200 hectares of land the state government allocated to Fulani herdsmen for grazing or face a mass shutdown of all government facilities across the state.

Also, mothers of Ijaw nation, led by Niger Delta activist, Ms AnnKio Briggs, have slated a mass protest in Yenagoa, the state capital, on February 14, to occupy the state until Governor Dickson rescinds his decision.

Other Ijaw mothers, who resolved at a meeting in Port Harcourt, Rivers State, to  occupy Bayelsa from February 14 are the leader of  Ijaw Women Council, IWC, Rosemary Naingba, aka Aweke-Ere I,  national legal adviser, Borno Fetepigi Obhe, national secretary, Mrs. Ebisidor Bribebe, chairman, IWC, Eastern zone, Mrs. Brassba Jack

IPDI, in a statement by its acting spokesperson, Mr. Mayor Ogobiri, said: “We are giving Governor Dickson seven days ultimatum to revoke Bayelsa land allocated to herdsmen or face mass shut down of all government facilities across the state because we do not want a repeat of the massacre that happened recently at Southern Kaduna in our state.

“We are warning Governor Dickson that the blood of any Bayelsan is worth much more than thousands of cows. He should fight for human rights and not animal rights.

“It is unfortunate that Dickson is now carried away by his pursuit for Northern relationship and more political power at the national level come 2019 and he is blind to the activities of the marauding herdsmen, which pose grave danger to peaceful co-existence in Nigeria.

“The act of the Bayelsa State Government is treacherous and a clear betrayal of Bayelsans who voted him to power. This is a critical period in our nation. We do not want our women raped and killed, we do not want our children defiled, we do not want our kings to be kidnapped and killed,and we do not want AK-47 wielding herdsmen within Bayelsa State.

“We want to unequivocally state that Dickson is inviting terrorists to Bayelsa State by allocating grazing lands to killer- squads under the guise of herdsmen. If we may ask, how many free fishing rivers and farmlands have Northern governors allocated to southerners to carry out fishing and farming businesses in the North?

“Dickson is doing eye service to the Northerners for political alignment. He is exposing the Ijaw of Bayelsa State to unnecessary danger, we now live in fear. We will wage war against Dickson within the confines of the law on his genocidal mission against the future of Ijaw people.”

Current Affairs: Jonathan Addresses U.S. Congress over State of the Nation

“If, as a nation, we do not kill religious persecution and extremism, then religious persecution and extremism will kill Nigeria.” This were the very words of immediate past president of Nigeria, Goodluck Jonathan.

He further said that, “the potential danger associated with the level of conflicts going on across the country is so glaring that no sane mind can ignore.” He said it is not in the best interest of the U.S. and indeed the international community to ignore Nigeria.”

Jonathan gave the statement in a speech he delivered at the U.S. House Sub Committee on Africa on February 1, 2017. The speech is titled, “Challenges of Nigerian Christians and the Niger Delta Question-A Summary.” Read the full speech below: Challenges of Nigerian Christians and the Niger Delta Question-A Summary A Presentation by Dr. Goodluck Jonathan, Chairman of the Goodluck Jonathan Foundation to the U.S. House Sub Committee on Africa, February 1, 2017 Let me start by thanking Congressman, Christopher H. Smith, Chairman U.S. House Sub-Committee on Africa, Global Health, Global Human Rights and International Organizations for inviting me to share my views on the crisis facing Christians in Nigeria today and the Niger Delta question. The U.S. Congress is a powerful institution not just for good governance in the U.S. but also for global peace and development. Over the years, the U.S. Congress has shown consistent interest in African affairs and I thank you for this and for showing interest in Nigeria. Congressman Smith has personally visited troubled spots in Nigeria and especially those geo-political zones that are considered the frontline of ethnic and religious conflicts. He has also visited the Niger Delta. I sincerely thank him for these efforts. File: Former President Jonathan giving his speech at Oxford In your invitation letter, you highlighted a number of very sensitive issues you wanted me to touch on. I group all these issues under ‘Challenges Facing Nigerian Christians and the Niger Delta Question’. A full discussion on even one of these issues may take a minimum of two hours, but here, I am expected to be very brief. I will therefore present a bird’s eye view, but when next your committee visits Nigeria, even more detailed presentations will be made by other stake holders. Nigeria and the World I read a paper presented by Princeton N. Lyman, a former U.S. ambassador to Nigeria, suggesting that Nigeria is no longer strategic to U.S. interests in Africa and the world as it used to be. Ambassador Lyman may have had valid reasons for such a view point, but I make bold to say that the relationship between the U.S. and Nigeria has come a long way since Prime Minister Abubakar Tafawa Balewa’s State Visit to the U.S. in July of 1961 and that relationship should not only endure, but be built upon. Nigeria, as a nation, is relevant to the U.S. in my opinion especially when you consider such parameters as: Mineral Resources Economy/Trade Biotic Resources Population/Human Resources, etc Nations such as Nigeria can impact the globe positively when things are handled properly. They may also affect the world negatively if things go wrong. It is not in the best interest of the U.S. and indeed the international community to ignore Nigeria. Killing of Christians in Nigeria Your invitation letter profusely highlighted the issues of the killing of Christians in Nigeria, the last major incident being the recent killings in Southern Kaduna in Kaduna state, and I do not need to elaborate on that. The challenge is how do we stop that from recurring. How do we ensure that Christians and Muslims cohabit peacefully in Nigeria and practice their religions freely without discrimination, molestation and killings? One school of thought believes that these killings reoccur because of impunity. Security and law enforcement bodies unfortunately have a history of failing to apprehend the culprits of previous killings and disturbances and punishing according to the law. Such impunity has emboldened and encouraged persons with such tendencies. Indeed, though there have been over 10 major incidences of ethnic and religious conflagration in the frontline state of Kaduna since 1979, there has only ever been one incidence where the authorities took action, according to the law, to punish the culprits of the disturbances. This was in 1992, after the Zangon Kataf riots in which the official death toll was 300. The military administration of General Ibrahim Badamasi Babangida constituted the Civil Disturbances Special Tribunal to try arrested persons and a total of 14 persons were sentenced to death, although the Babangida administration commuted the sentences to five years imprisonment. Within the period I served as a Vice President and later as President, it became very clear to me that if the issue of religion is not handled properly, the unity of the country would be in great jeopardy. Religious and other ethnic issues were becoming a stumbling block towards societal cohesion and economic development. I therefore set up a National Conference with the mandate of looking into all the grey areas militating against the peace, progress and development of Nigeria. On the issue of religion, let me quote unedited the position of the 2014 National Conference. Nigeria has over 350 ethnic nationalities and that: ‘“This multi-ethnicity has been compounded by pronounced religious differences, exploited usually for political considerations by avid political classes in contexts of extreme poverty and very low educational development among the mass of the populace. Whereas Nigeria is supposed to be a secular state,” one nation bound in freedom, peace and unity”, the prevalence of religiosity and its related nepotism at all levels, has effectively undermined the objectivity which secularity would have ordinarily imbued in national politics.” The Conference further stated that: “In view of the fact that religion plays a vital role in many aspects of our national life especially in the aspect of national security and national unity, it is highly imperative that it be singled out from other fundamental rights and given a special attention via the creation of an Equity Commission whose sole mandate will be to focus on religious rights and their promotion. This is in line with best global practices as many advanced democracies have special legal and institutional arrangements for some very sensitive aspects of their national life. Examples of such specialized agencies from other countries are presented below: a) In the United Kingdom, despite the existence of the UK Equal Opportunities Commission (UK-EOC), a Commission for Racial Equality (created by the Race Relations Act, 1976) which existed alongside UK-EOC for many years. This was done because at the time, issues of racial discrimination were very sensitive and crucial that it was thought necessary to create a special commission for it. b) In the United States, despite the existence of the US State Department Bureau of Democracy, Human Rights and Labor, it has other special human rights enforcement agencies created to promote specific rights. One of such agencies is the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) which is a federal law enforcement agency that enforces laws against workplace discrimination. The EEOC investigates discrimination complaints based on an individual’s race, color, national origin, religion, sex, age, disability, genetic information, and retaliation for reporting, participating in, and/or opposing a discriminatory practice. c) Canada has a similar arrangement to that of the United States. The Canadian Human Rights Act has long prohibited discrimination on the basis of gender,COM FINAL CONFERENCE REPORT PAGE 433 race, ethnicity, and certain other grounds. In 1986, the Canadian government passed the Employment Equity Act which was meant to protect certain restricted vulnerable categories of persons. The Canadian Human Rights Act continues to be in force alongside the Employment Equity Act. d) In Australia, there are 3 different commissions addressing the issues of human rights, namely: Human Rights Commission, Anti-Discrimination Commission and Equal Opportunities Commission” I totally agreed with the 2014 National Conference on the need to establish the Religious Equity Commission that will have powers to arrest and prosecute those who contravene the law. If, as a nation, we do not kill religious persecution and extremism, then religious persecution and extremism will kill Nigeria. The potential danger associated with the level of conflicts going on across the country is so glaring that no sane mind can ignore. Even before I set up the National Conference in 2014, my government took certain initiatives to end impunity and reorient the minds of Nigerians. First was education. I established twelve conventional Federal Universities and two specialized universities. Nine of the twelve Federal Universities were located in those states in Northern Nigeria that previously did not have any Federal University. The Specialized Police University was located in Kano state, also in the North, bringing the total number of universities I established in the North of Nigeria to ten. The Specialized Maritime University was located in the Niger Delta. In addition to these, I also established 165 Almajiri elementary and high schools in each of the nineteen states of Northern Nigeria to combine Islamic education with Western education. In the area of law enforcement, it was quite challenging, but we were determined. When the Boko Haram Islamic terrorists bombed St. Theresa’s Catholic Church, Madalla, in Niger state of Nigeria on Christmas Day of 2011, I physically visited the scene of the bombing at which 44 people died on Saturday the 31st of December 2011 and I promised Nigerians that those responsible for that heinous act would be brought to book. That promise was fulfilled on the 20th of December 2013 when Kabiru Umar, aka Kabiru Sokoto, was sentenced to life imprisonment after my administration investigated that crime, identified him as the mastermind, arrested him and diligently prosecuted him and some of his associates. Might I add that this was the first and only successful prosecution of a crime of deadly terrorism against a religious place of worship inspired by religious extremism since Nigeria’s return to civil rule in 1999. Before then, my administration had also diligently carried out the first successful prosecution of terrorists of the Islamic extremist group, Boko Haram, for another terror attack, but this time not in a place of worship but on the offices of the Independent National Electoral Commission also in Madalla, Niger state, an act which led to the deaths of sixteen persons on April 8th, 2011. We were in the process of prosecuting Aminu Ogwuche, the mastermind of the April 14, 2014 Nyanya bombing in Nasarawa state which killed 75 people but unfortunately that prosecution was ongoing as at the time I left office in 2015. But the point I want to emphasize by citing these incidences is that my administration had the political will to halt impunity in Nigeria and that is why killings due to religious extremism was localized to the Northeast with occasional killings in other zones of the North. And even in the Northeast, we had rolled back the Islamic terrorist sect, Boko Haram, by the end of the first quarter of 2015 after we were able to get weapons to arm our military. The killings did not spread to the mainly Christian south and I believe that the fight back against impunity by my administration was the main reason for this. Of course, there were other reasons for this. For instance, through my personal reach out to the then President of the Christian Association of Nigeria, Pastor Ayo Oritsejafor, I was able to persuade the Body of Christ in Nigeria not to engage in any retaliation or reprisal killings. My job was made easier in this regards when the Christian Association of Nigeria saw a genuine desire on my part to bring religious extremists to book. Using the same approach with the head of the Muslim Ummah in Nigeria, His Eminence, the Sultan of Sokoto, I was able to get the mainstream of the Islamic faith to publicly condemn Islamic extremism in Nigeria. This was important to show that a clampdown on Islamic extremism was and is not a clampdown on Islam. Going a step further, I worked through a body known as the Nigeria Inter-Religious Council (NIREC) to bring Christian and Muslim leaders together so they could talk to each other not at each other. To summarize on the issue of ethnic and religious conflicts, I recommend the establishment of the Religious Equity Commission, enforcement of our laws without fear or favor and maximum cooperation by all Nigerians especially our revered religious leaders and clerics. The Niger Delta Question The issue of the Niger Delta is an issue of exploitation of natural resources, economy and development. The complaints and restiveness is not unique to the Niger Delta of Nigeria alone. In most African nations where resources are domiciled in minority regions and the control of such resources are in the hands of majority regions, such agitations are commonplace. The people in these regions feel that though they suffer from the environmental hazards of the exploitation of the God given resources, they do not commensurately benefit from the exploitation of these resources. In the Niger Delta, these agitations predate Nigeria’s existence in 1914. Oil palm produce (palm oil and kernel) were major raw materials that fed the growth of the Industrial Revolution in Europe, and they largely came from the Niger Delta. Various tribal kings and chiefs such as King Jaja of Opobo and Nana Olomu, resisted British exploitation of these resources and were both arrested, deposed and exiled to the West Indies (King Jaja) and the Gold Coast (Nana) by the British Imperial Government as punishment for their agitations. Let me add that the punitive measures against these kings did not end the agitations. With the discovery of petroleum, in the Niger Delta, similar agitations surfaced. On February 23, 1966, these agitations culminated in the declaration of the first secessionist state in post independent Nigeria, the Niger Delta Republic, proclaimed by Isaac Jasper Adaka Boro. His twelve day revolution was crushed by the Federal Government. It is instructive to note that Isaac Boro declared the Republic of the Niger Delta a full year and three months before May, 1967 when then Colonel Chukwuemeka Odumegwu Ojukwu declared the secession of the Eastern Region to form the Republic of Biafra leading to the thirty month civil war. From the end of the civil war to date the Federal Government has come up with many interventionist initiatives to pacify the Niger Delta. I was a pioneer staff and worked as an Assistant Director of Environmental Protection at one of these early interventionist agencies called the Oil Mineral Producing Areas Development Commission (OMPADEC), set up by the military administration of General Ibrahim Badamasi Babangida. With the advent of democracy in 1999, then President Olusegun Obasanjo established the present body, the Niger Delta Development Commission (NDDC). The greatest stumbling block of these interventionist agencies was lack of continuity, resulting from an over politicization of projects as each successive management awarded new contracts rather than continue with those awarded by their predecessors and as such, the Niger Delta is littered with many abandoned projects with very few completed projects to show for the huge monies spent. During the Obasanjo era, the Federal Government, in line with our constitution and revenue laws, set aside 13% of oil revenues to be paid as derivation funds to oil producing states and shared on the basis of proportion of oil they produce.  As a person from the Niger Delta, I can say that the 13% derivation has benefitted Niger Delta states and their people more than the interventionist agencies. For example, those who knew Akwa Ibom state before the 13% derivation become law will agree that the derivation fund has changed the face of that state making it almost overnight one of the most developed states in Nigeria. The same is true with other oil producing states though with varying degrees of development. From the foregoing, the only option that will solve the agitation in the Niger Delta is true and Fiscal Federalism as practiced in the United States from whom we copied the Presidential model of government. States should be allowed to exploit their natural resources as they deem fit and pay adequate taxes to the Federal Government. This is also the position of the 2014 National Conference. The Conference strongly recommended the adoption of Fiscal Federalism as the only panacea to these agitations and other challenges. The Role of the Goodluck Jonathan Foundation Resolving both the religious crises and the Niger Delta question requires a new legal framework, thus the Federal Government and the National Assembly have major roles to play. The Goodluck Jonathan Foundation working with Elder statesmen and Civil Society groups can, through dialogue and advocacy, encourage religious leaders, traditional rulers, youth groups and women groups to participate in the formulation of a new legal framework. They will also be impressed upon to abide by these laws when put in place. Without a new legal framework, successes by any advocacy group will at best be transient, it will not endure. Also, the military crackdown in the Niger Delta will not end the agitation there. It will have the opposite effect of provoking the youths which will cause them to seek to acquire sophisticated weapons to defend themselves and their communities. This may in turn lead to secessionist movements and the reincarnation of the Isaac Jasper Adaka Boro led revolution and the Biafran Civil War. The Federal Government and the international community must work to avoid this. Global Terror and Boko Haram in Nigeria The Boko Haram Islamic terrorist sect has been classified as the most deadly terror group in the world by the Global Terrorism Index. Herdsmen operating in and around Nigeria are listed as the fourth most deadly terror group. However, I do not intend to discuss global terror because it is a subject well known to all and the U.S. government has been working hard with various governments to address these issues. My belief is that the day the U.S. government and the Russian government decide to work together, that will surely mark the beginning of the end of global terror. Conclusion In my capacity as head of the Goodluck Jonathan Foundation, I visited former Nigerian leaders to call for unity of purpose to fend off some of these challenges I have listed above. And finally today I am here, calling on this august body and the new American administration of President Donald J Trump, of whom we are very confident, to please work with the government and people of Nigeria by way of capacity building and intelligence gathering and sharing and indeed in any way possible to bring an end to religious extremism in Nigeria. Mr. Chairman, distinguished ladies and gentlemen, I thank you for giving me the opportunity to share my ideas on these sensitive subject with you.

CJN: Southern Leaders Insist on Onnoghen

President Muhammadu Buhari has been urged to send of Justice Walter Onnoghen’s name to the Senate for confirmation to avert crisis in the polity especially in the Niger-Delta. This was the opinion of some leaders from the south-south part of Nigeria, including Elder Statesman, Chief Edwin Clark; Senator Ovie Omo-Agege, and two members of the House of Representatives, Hon. Timothy Golu (Plateau, and Michael Adeniyi Omogbehin

. According to the Constitution, Justice Onnoghen is expected to vacate office if his appointment is not confirmed by the Senate after three months. The National Judicial Commission, NJC, in exercise of its powers under Section 231 (1) of the 1999 Constitution (as amended), on October 13, 2016, recommended Justice Onnoghen as the Chief Justice of Nigeria to President Buhari but the President is yet to forward his name to the Senate for confirmation. Chief Justice of Nigeria (CJN), Justice Nkanu Onnoghen Meanwhile, the Presidency has cautioned leaders against blackmailing the president on the issue or reading religious, ethnic and regional meanings into it. Let’s avert fresh crisis in Niger-Delta – Clark Clark, who is the convener of the Pan Niger Delta Forum, PANDEF, pleaded with President Buhari to transmit Onnoghen’s name to the Senate for confirmation to ward off fresh crisis in the Niger-Delta. The acting CJN is from Cross River State, one of the six states of the South-South geo-political zone. Vanguard gathered that an emergency meeting of PANDEF would be convened, weekend, to enable the region deliberate and take a position on the matter. Speaking to Vanguard, Chief Clark said leaders of the region had been busy for some time now trying to bring peace to the region and stop pipeline vandalism by militants, but just when they were about to celebrate the new found peace, another problem over the delay in sending the name of Justice Onnoghen for confirmation as Chief Justice of Nigeria is brewing. He urged President Buhari “not to listen or allow himself to be misled by some of his advisers but take the best decision in the overall interest of Nigeria and the law. We have kept quiet for some time thinking that Mr. President will not waste time in sending his name to the Senate for confirmation. The duty of the President, as contained in the 1999 Constitution, has always been conventional and traditional. It is not the duty of Mr. President to question the suitability of the person recommended by the National Judicial Council, NJC. Once the recommendation is done, it is automatic and his duty is just to transmit the name to the Senate, the verification, looking into his character and everything is that of the Senate and not the President. “But for more than three months now, going to about four months since the name was submitted to Mr. President, we, in the South-South, feel that the same thing that was done in the case of previous Chief Justices of Nigeria should be done. For instance, Justice Irikefe was CJN from 1985 to 1987, it was the same procedure that was used in appointing Justice Bello as CJN (1987 – 1995). And after him, there had been no trouble, it has been a quiet transition all along from one CJN to the other, in fact, the president has never questioned the judgement of the NJC. Once the NJC has taken a decision and submits the name to the president, it is automatic… “Nobody knew what was happening or even took notice of it, so I am appealing to Mr. President on behalf of the people of the South-South to please send the name of Onnoghen for confirmation before the expiration of his acting tenure, as doing otherwise, will cause problem in the area. We are not trouble makers; we are Nigerians and not second-class citizens of the country. “Any moment we are being treated otherwise, our children will begin to ask questions, are they first-class citizens in Nigeria, are they equal to other Nigerians, we will not accept it. So, we are appealing to Mr. President to use his good office if he wants peace in the area and cooperation of the people of the South-South not to cause another problem in the area.” Buhari should act without further delay – Omo-Agege.  In like manner, Senator Ovie Omo-Agege (LP, Delta Central) urged President Buhari to transmit Onnoghen’s name to the Senate for confirmation as CJN without further delay. In a text message to Vanguard yesterday, Senator Omo- Agege said: “Justice Nkanu Onnoghen is one of Nigeria’s sharpest legal minds. He is a man of integrity, who has served the country well. His sterling record of excellence uniquely qualifies him to serve as Chief Justice of Nigeria. “His nomination would be a sterling choice that would receive overwhelming bipartisan support in the Senate. That said, I do urge President Buhari to send his name to the Senate for confirmation right away.” The Senator’s call is coming barely 24 four hours after the Cross River State National Assembly Caucus urged President Buhari to treat the matter with urgency. Reps Omoghehin, Golu concur Also, Rep Micheal Adeniyi Omogbehin said the delay in transmitting Onnoghen’s name to the Senate for confirmation was setting bad precedence in the country. His words: “It is very unfortunate that we found ourselves in such unusual circumstances and situation. The usual sequence has been that the most senior judge in the Supreme Court automatically takes over. Why is this happening at this critical time? It smirks a very dangerous precedence because in the past 30 years, this is the first time the headship of the judiciary is shifting from the northern to the southern part of the country. I want to assume that the delay is a coincidence and I don’t want to assume that the president albeit the presidency has done this deliberately. “Despite the fact that National Assembly has suspended plenary, there is still room to address this urgent situation. I reliably gathered that the acting Chief Justice has up to three to four years to be on the seat, which simply means he is still young enough and there has not been any disciplinary charges against him. “So, as a patriotic Nigerian, I call on Mr. President to do the needful so as not to create the impression or ratify the impression that has been created already that Onnoghen is being denied that position because he is from the southern side of Nigeria.’’ To Rep. Timothy Golu: “In this matter, justice should be done. The person that is qualified should be given this job because the President said he is out to promote justice, unity and the rest of them. One of the ways in which he should demonstrate that is by observing due process. This man’s name was submitted some months ago and in line with the constitution, every requirements have been met. “So, in order not to create any crisis, crisis of confidence, crisis of leadership, or in order not to create any ethnic problem because people from the South will feel that the President, who is from the North, does not want any southerner to take over the office of the CJN. That will not be good for the unity of this country. I know that the President in his wisdom will confirm Onnoghen as the Chief Justice of Nigeria because he is a man of justice and we believe he will do justice to this… So I have utmost confidence that President Buhari will appoint Onnoghen as the substantive CJN of this country.” On whether the National Assembly will invoke the doctrine of necessity if the President fails to forward his name for confirmation, he said, “I don’t know what the National Assembly will do but let us get to the bridge first.’’

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