Rethinking the Prevailing Unsustainable Future of the Niger Delta
The ongoing COVID-19 pandemic has exposed the tenuous underbelly of the economic wellbeing and continuing relevance of the Niger Delta people within the Nigerian federation. The prevailing worthlessness of crude oil in the international market has served a painful reminder to us economically and it’s a cataclysmic warning to the people of the Niger Delta that our economic best days may just be in the past, from years of the glorious oil boom.
Over the past twenty years of democratic rule our region has squandered repeated opportunities to leave an enduring economic and socio political readjustment within the deceptive Nigerian federal structure. From Ondo to Cross Rivers states our leaders in the region have wasted, looted and connived to ruin every God-given opportunities and resources in pursuit of their narrow personal vanities.
However, the time for a serious debate among the people of the Niger Delta for a way forward has now clearly fallen on us. We need to revisit and critically study some of the great master plans, ideas, propositions and aspirations from our past. The Kaiama Declaration readily comes to the fore. We can learn a lot about our past, failures and successes by reviewing same through the lens of documented aspirations such as the Kaiama Declaration and other pan Niger Delta proclamations.
The scrabble for monthly crumbs from Abuja have blinded our region’s political leaders to the common good of our people. The political leaders of Niger Delta needs new orientation and mind-set, nurtured in true love for the region and respect for its people. The Ijaw’s have always led this fight even before the much celebrated Kaiama Declaration. But even the homogenous Ijaw state of Bayelsa is sadly not immune from the existential elitists’ selfishness and nonchalance that has befallen every other state in our beloved region. We have become blinded by the sheer greed and trappings of political power in the various state government houses thereby neglecting and sacrificing the greater good of our beloved people and region.
The fierce urgency of the need to save the Niger Delta from both economic and environmental collapse stares us all in the face but rather than act decisively our political leaders have consciously erected their new homes in Lagos, Abuja and other places except the Niger Delta. We must seek to have our political leaders make a clean break from this treacherous mind-set. It rest on the youths of the Niger Delta to remove anything that is sickening our region to rescue our beloved creeks and lands from environmental, socio economic afflictions and the avoidable misery that stares our people in the face daily. To achieve this, the region must come up with a new breed of young leaders who are ready and willing to put the interest of the people and region above their personal interest for materialism. We need new leaders that can identify the problems of the region both on a tactical and strategic level for a sustainable future.
Notably, the Niger Delta Region is on the cusp of becoming an environmental and economic wasteland while the rest of the country that had entirely owed their survival to it moves on to other sources of livelihood whilst we are left with a huge level of underdevelopment, economic disaster and environmental issues to grapple with. To understand how precarious our situation have become we just need to look at the economic trajectory of Rivers, Bayelsa and Delta states. All three central Niger Delta states are nearly absolutely naked economically without the 13% derivation and crude oil extraction industry related taxation. There is near zero industrial activity around despite the prevalence of crude oil by-products in a plethora of everyday items that are derived from crude oil found in abundance within their domains. We are not sure there is any law preventing Delta and Bayelsa or all Niger Delta states investing in joint petrochemical plants sited along their common boundaries or Rivers and Bayelsa States pooling resources together to build or buy off the Port Harcourt Refinery. It seem the Niger Delta is abundantly blessed with everything except quality leadership with a sense of direction, idea and selflessness to set the region on a true path to prosperity.
We truly need good leadership with these drive and attributes that is why we are excited and hopeful by the prospects of Comrade Daniel Dasimaka emerging as President of the Ijaw Youth Council (IYC) worldwide in the forthcoming election. In our interactions with Comrade Dasimaka, he has espoused the foresight to tackling head on the challenges facing the region by galvanizing the entire ethnic youth groups to present a common front and manage the issues confronting our beloved region. Furthermore, he excites us greatly with his ambitious and attainable goals for the region. Comrade Dasimaka definitely have a clear roadmap to correct some of the shortcomings of the past and institute a new pathway for the Niger Delta. It will truly be a blessing to have Comrade Dasimaka lead the IYC and Niger Delta region at this critical and existential juncture.
The Ijaw’s have always led the way for the emancipation of the Niger Delta and we have no doubt as a coalition of ethnic groups in the region that they will continue to do so with a sound and visionary youth leader who can awaken every ethnic group to the dangers ahead and together confront the challenges and harness the opportunities ahead.
We are the Coalition of Ethnic Groups of the Niger Delta Region (CEG-ND)
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