On Ledum Mitee's Committee's Report
Although I have not read the full report of the Technical Committee on the Niger Delta constituted by President Yar'Adua some few months ago, excerpts available appear to have lost focus on some of the core issues in the Niger Delta crises. Kindly permit me to comment as follows.
The Niger Delta conundrum is about:
a) The destruction of the people's environment by oil and gas activities in the region. Therefore, the government and the oil and gas companies must first and foremost clean the place and ensure that it never happens again.
b) The co-option of cultism, secret-society-driven political leadership, importation of ammunition led to the high level of insecurity ravaging the region. All those involved need not go for skills empowerment programmes or amnesty or rehabilitation; they need to first of all be prosecuted for what they have inflicted on the region except if what they did was not criminal. Otherwise, more will be interested in committing crime and rewarded with skills empowerment or amnesty or rehabilitation later. The MEND etc parading themselves today are not true movements of the Niger Delta people. Their interest is money and that is why nobody can satisfy them with their bogus demands. MOSOP is a true example of a Niger Delta liberation movement: it possess the desired character of what the people need.
c) The existence of a very poor leadership clique in the region, who are bent on perpetuating themselves through dubious recommendations. They will never recommend on how to punish bad leadership; it is always how to create more avenues to steal our resources. Such recommendations include increase in derivation percentage, building of infrastructure (the cheapest way to become a millionaire in Nigeria within a week), scholarship and bursary awards, creation of more states (Toru Ebe State etc) and local government areas, creation of Ministry of Niger Delta to exist side-by-side with the NDDC with both reporting to the Presidency and with same function: provision of infrastructure. I challenge The Guardian and all those who dined and wined over the creation of both bodies that as long as no fundamental change is made in the character of Nigerian leadership, what killed NDBDA, OMPADEC etc will kill the Ministry and NDDC. The region needs her own political parties with character to have deeper reflections on the unique problems of the region. For example, is Mitee’s report in line with the Ogoni Bill of Rights? If no, why the difference?
d) The non-existence of appropriate ideologies that can enhance the people’s values and lifestyles. The region needs appropriate and in-depth awareness campaigns to stop deforestation; teach and learn the people’s language, positive cultures, agriculture and other occupations, local science and technology such that they can fully direct their policies, implement their works and consistently create their own wealth within their own enhanced political, social and economic freedom. This is what it means to develop the region: the people meeting their own needs, no matter how crude, at average 10% capacity and consistently moving on from their. This requires a Niger Delta Education for Niger Delta Development etc. Educate the Ijaw on how to fish and produce fishing materials and they will feed themselves and export to the rest of the world.
Niger Delta development abhors unemployment because when the people consistently study, criticize themselves and make their own corrections, they will develop along the areas where they have natural comparative advantages using their TALENTS polished by their own education. This process will make good sense because it is from the true people of the region to the true people of the region by the true people of the region. Going through the Ogoni Bill of Rights, this is what I see and not what the committee appears to have recommended.
This approach will usher in the true dialectics needed in addressing the Niger Delta problems and will make the people to be able to understand and implement the development of the Niger Delta. Any thing other than this will lead to not being able to resolve the Niger Delta wahala infinitum.