According to the memorandum for the creation of Oil Rivers State, submitted to the National Assembly, Federal Republic of Nigeria, June, 2012, it is contained that, “a meaningful solution to the Niger Delta crisis lies in the political option, not infrastructure development. Beginning from the early sixties successive administrations put in place one intervention agency or the other in response to the problem. Yet the crisis has not abated in any manner. Rather, it has reached a frightening crescendo, causing ripples in the international economy”.
“The Niger Delta environment, experts say, is the most degraded in the world today. Yet the environment constitutes near totality of the resources of the people. The question in the lips of many is: “What will happen to the Niger Delta when the oil is gone? Not only are existing laws for protection of the environment not enforced but the laws themselves are inadequate and the technical capacity for monitoring and enforcement abysmally low. Nobody seems worried. Even the one sentence constitutional provision in the 1999 Federal Constitution of the environment is too terse, meaningless and non-justiceable. Today, the people can no longer live sustainably in the environment. The critical issue in the Niger Delta is therefore survival”.
The Niger Delta is strictly the area occupied by the Ijaws, the aboriginal tribe of the Delta. It spans the coast of the Bight of Biafra, from the Forcados River to the Opobo River and upstream to the Niger tributaries of the Nun and the forcados Rivers.
The Niger Delta region is rich with natural resources. Beside, the crude oil, the region could boost of agricultural produce of palm oil, fertile soil, and other mineral resources. Crude oil was first discovered in Olobiri community, in the Niger Delta sixty (60) years ago. Today the community lacks the basic necessities of life as the hydro-carbon, the black gold dries up. The Olobiri town is a sad commentary of oil and gas in Nigeria.
While drilling the oil the Shell Petroleum Development Company, SPDC did not consider the development of the Olobiri town. SPDC exhibited inhuman behaviour, while doing business at the Olobiri. According to Ken Saro Wiwa, “having Shell as a neighbour living near you is like living near an assassin”.
Today so many groups have come out to combat the injustice perpetuating by the multinational oil firms in the region. The groups include Niger Delta Avengers, NDA, Movement for the Emancipation of the Niger Delta, MEND, Niger Delta Liberation Force (NDLF) and several others. These militant groups are demanding among others independent republic and economic emancipation. Sadly, the militants have caused much havoc in the region by destroying oil facilities and installations. From studies and observations this weekly has advanced seven (7) reasons why Niger Delta republic must be declared.
- Environmental pollution: The activities of oil firms have caused much damage to the environment in the region. The oil exploration and exploitation further caused oil spillage which has destroyed the entire ecosystem that have reduced the environment to nothing.
- Domination of oil blocs by foreigners: the Niger Delta is the economic basket of the Nigerian state. The region sustains the country through its mineral resources. However, the crude oil that contributes to the economic growth of country, more than 90% oil blocs are owed by non-Niger Deltans. This is the marginalization of the highest order.
- Oppression: The proceeds from crude oil are carting away to build bigger cities such as Abuja, Lagos, Kano amongst others, not minding the development of the region.
4.Underdevelopment: Despite the economic viability of the region government is insensitive to the adancement of the Niger Delta. No viable project and there is absence of infrastructural development in the Niger Delta, as a result the region is totally underdeveloped.
- Poverty: Due to the inhuman treatment perpetuating by the oil firms operating in the region, the Niger Deltans are living in an abject poverty. Feeding is difficult because their sources of livelihood have been truncated by gas flaring and other toxic that are caused by oil drilling
- Series of conflicts: The Niger Delta region is now known for different kinds of agitations. These agitations are fueled by oil firms insensitivity to the plights of the host communities. They subjected their host communities to terrible hardship and bitterness
- Lopsided development: Inspite the Niger Delta region contributions to economic growth of the country, the federal government development policies do not favour the region. The region is yet to experience adequate development. Today, because of the injustice the region is full of crisis leading to the death of several indigenes. The only option that is opened to fast track development is to allow the Niger Deltans to be on their own. Thus Niger Delta affairs must be handled by the Niger Deltans. Hence the declaration of Niger Delta Republic is the only way out of these quagmires. ###