DECLARATION OF THE PEOPLE OF THE SOUTH-SOUTH AFTER A ONE DAY TRAINING ON CAPACITY BUILDING, CONFLICT PREVENTION, CONFLICT MANAGEMENT AND PEACE BUILDING ORGANISED BY THE JOURNALISTS FOR DEMOCRATIC RIGHTS, (JODER) WITH THE SUPPORT OF THE FORD FOUNDATION (WEST AFRICA REGIONAL OFFICE), HELD AT ALDAGATE CONGRESS HOTEL, PORT HARCOURT ON JULY 07, 2016
The training programme was organized by JOURNALISTS FOR DEMOCRATIC RIGHTS (JODER) with the support of the FORD FOUNDATION. The theme: Promoting Peace, Democracy and Stability in Nigeria through the Media, Socio-Cultural Institutions and Youth Driven Community Based Groups.
The Mission: Strengthen a people-driven process for conflict prevention, conflict management and peace-building in the Niger-Delta
Training targets: Primary and Secondary Beneficiaries cutting across Faith-based groups, Community-Based Organisations (CBOs), Women Groups, Civil Society Organisations (CSOs), security agencies, youth groups, organised labour and informal sector. Participants at the training programme include representatives of various ethnic groups like Ijaw, Isoko, Ikwerre, Ndoni, Ogoni, Urhobo, Efik, Ibibio and Itsekiri as well as non-indigenes in the Niger Delta amongst others.
The Niger-Delta is home to indigenous ethnic groups that have lived in their territories for thousands of years. The Niger-Delta is a great ancestral homeland of several forest dependent peoples with a rich heritage of amazing culture and civilisations. The Niger-Delta is by far the second largest mangrove forest in the world, rich in natural resources, including but not limited to land and sea animals, the fauna, and hundreds of plant species which add value to the diverse tributaries and estuaries linking the vast ocean and the great Nun and Niger Rivers.
The Niger Delta has no fewer than 16 distinct ethnic nationalities with history of shared heritage and cultural identities including social and trade relations long before the advent of colonial rule. As with any other natural settings, there were history of conflicts and strives amongst the nationalities but the Niger-Delta however remains one of the most critical nerve centres of the Nigerian economy owing to its rich natural endowment and the resourcefulness of the people.
To a large extent, the social and economic activities of the nationalities that make up the Niger-Delta are linked to the environment which supports the survival of the people who depend on livelihood tied to land and forest resources.
For half a century, the people of the Niger-Delta specifically have been facing various challenges to their survival due to adverse factors including environmental pollution, gas faring, disruptive oil exploration, lack of opportunities, the national malaise of corruption, forest devastation, depletion of sea and land resources and gas flaring.
The Niger-Delta produces the mainstay of Nigerian economy which is oil, whereas there have not been equitable sharing or allocation of these resources which remains a major source of conflict in the area;
That the forest reserve of the Niger-Delta has remained largely depleted and at present to an all time low with land and sea polluted, natural streams almost extinct, and means of living under sever attacks posing threats to generations unborn;
That previous efforts of relevant stakeholders at various levels to address the situation have not led to appreciable results in spite of the huge resources committed to the processes.
That such efforts include the introduction of the 13 percent revenue derivation, the setting up of the Niger-Delta Development Commission, (NDDC) and the recent adoption of the United Nations Environmental Programme, (UNEP) report which the Nigerian Federal Government has promised to implement, leading to the recent kick-off of the Ogoni clean-up exercise.
Regrettably however, participants noted that the Niger-Delta narrative has seen consistent stories of violence, desperation and various vices associated with legitimate agitations of the people;
That irrespective of the various efforts of the relevant stakeholders, the Niger-Delta remains fundamentally poor, vulnerable, with limited opportunities for the people to transform their lives in their own way through self actualisation;
That notwithstanding, participants recognise the infinite ability of the people of the Niger-Delta to aspire to a greater future founded on justice, liberty and respect for the dignity of the human person;
That peace and harmonious co-existence are essential to sustainable development in the entire region.
Towards achieving peace and sustainable development in the Niger-Delta, participants make the following resolutions:
- Participants demand deliberate urgent attention and actions in addressing the growing poverty rate, growing number of out-of-school children due largely to poverty and economic misery, disruption of oil pipelines and the emergence of various groups making one agitation or the other;
- Participants demand immediate cessation to all forms of violence in the Niger-Delta and that critical stakeholders should embrace peaceful resolution of all the lingering crises in the region through peaceful advocacy and necessary follow-up action;
- Participants condemn the invasion of indigenous Ijaw and other Niger Delta Communities by armed security agents and frown against the gross human rights violations against the people by the military and other security agents;
- Participants noted that there is the urgent need to resolve the crises in the Niger-Delta region in a honest, transparent and open manner with the aim of addressing the fears of the communities, the authorities, the multinationals and business community as well as the agitators themselves;
- That the ongoing clean-up exercise in Ogoni should be extended to other lands polluted in the Niger Delta as soon as such plans are feasible.
- Participants resolve to set up a Working Group on the Niger-Delta to constantly bring community leaders and civil society organisations together towards finding a people-driven solution to the problems of the Niger-Delta;
- Participants call on all stakeholders not to undermine the Right to Self-Determination as entrenched in the United Nations (UN) Charter and other obligations of the UN on the rights of Indigenous peoples including the International Labour Organisation, (ILO) Convention 169 on Biological Diversity.
- Participants demand speedy passage of the Petroleum Industry Bill (PIB) by the 8th Session of the National Assembly.
- Participants call on the government, communities and other stakeholders in the Niger-Delta to explore the potentials of working together, remove suspicion and mutual distrust in other to deal with the hydra-headed problems that confront the people of the oil producing communities.
|Dimkpa Emmanuel Princewill. Vice National Chairman South-South, Nigeria Youth-Assembly.
Oguntuase Akin Micheal
Uzoma Esther A.
Yahaya Abraham D.