AN OPEN LETTER OF PETITION TO THE PRESIDENT AND COMMANDER-IN-CHIEF OF THE NIGERIAN ARMED FORCES
Dear Mr President, A PETITION AGAINST THE EXCLUSION OF NDPVF, NDPSF, MOSOP, IYC AND MASSOB FROM THE NATIONAL CONFERENCE DELEGATES LIST It is with the highest sense of patriotic conviction that I write to convey my reservations against The National Conference (TNC) Delegates List as published by the Secretary to the Government of the Federation (SGF).
The proposed TNC can be a veritable platform for the resolution of the root causes of restiveness and unrest in several parts of Nigeria.
However, this cannot be achieved without the active participation of self determination actors in groups such as NDPVF, NDPSF, MOSOP, IYC and MASSOB that are leading the agitation for the convocation of a Sovereign National Conference; and who have waged a sustained struggle for self determination.
While their counterparts like O'odua Peoples Congress (OPC) and O'odua Youth Movement (OYM) in the South-West and others in the North-Central have been allowed representation, they have been denied representation in the South-South and South East lists.
Amongst other reasons, addressing the factors that led to the emergence of centrifugal forces like 'Boko Haram' (BH), O'odua People's Congress (OPC), Movement for the Actualisation of the Sovereign State of Biafra (MASSOB), Niger Delta Peoples Volunteer Force (NDPVF), Movement for the Emancipation of Niger Delta (MEND), etc.
, should be the main focus of the TNC.
The TNC would be said to have failed if it falls short of resolving the National Question.
However, we must concede that a single gathering of delegates in Abuja for three months at a go cannot address all the issues satisfactorily.
We have a recent example in the 2005 National Political Reform Conference (NPRC) which ended abruptly in a fiasco.
Consequently, the proper thing to do is recognise the strategic imperative of the six Geopolitical Zones of Nigeria acting as federating units to convene their Regional Conferences.
The outcomes of which should subsequently form the basis for the formulation of Regional Constitutions and Laws.
What each Regional Conference should address includes how it wants to govern itself as a federating unit.
What the TNC should concern itself with is how Nigeria should be constituted as a genuine Federal Union; the terms on which the federating units want to co-exist and fund the Union harmoniously.
We have set the ball rolling in our region.
On the 28th of January 2014, representative socio-political/cultural organisations of nationalities, self determination groups and social movements held the Pan Niger Delta Conference (PNDC) at the Atlantic Hall of Hotel Presidential, Port Harcourt.
With the theme, Niger Delta and the National Conference, the PNDC had over one thousand delegates in attendance.
It was a non-partisan assembly, and a component of a process that will result in the Niger Delta presenting a common position on how Niger Deltans and Nigerians can best govern themselves.
To arrive at this, we appraised the socio-cultural, political and environmental challenges of Niger Delta vis-à-vis the deepening crisis of the Nigerian state.
Nigeria has attained a century of existence over the course of which, the country has had two distinct phases of struggle for a viable nation-state.
The first phase was the successful struggle against colonial rule.
The second phase has been the unsuccessful struggles against the vestiges of colonialism and other self-inflicted contradictions in the post-independence phase.
Consequently, we face the challenge of organising a new generation of citizens that would live under conditions of dismantled structural contradictions without the constraints on peoples' capacity to fulfil their potentials as Nigeria begins her second century.
To elucidate further on the imperative of this letter, let me share some of PNDC's observations with you.
The Niger Delta has been at the forefront of the struggle for the restructuring of the Nigerian state.
This is based on the people's conviction that a multi-ethnic nation-state like Nigeria can only exist peacefully on the basis of a truly federal structure that gives importance, equity and justice to all the components; That the peoples of the Niger Delta believe that the diverse nationalities that make up the country can only coexist successfully and peacefully on the foundation of clear restructuring of the federation anchored on principles of free consociation and the right of nationalities and communities to have spaces for political and economic actualisation.
These had formed the historical demands of the Niger Delta dating back to the time prior to the Henry Willinks Commission in 1957.
We note that rather than address the real issues posed by our peoples, both the British colonialists and post-Independence rulers opted for gestures of development, which has deepened the crisis; That series of conferences had held in the past, but none produced the desired solution to the problems of Nigeria, because of 'No Go Areas' and other manipulations by agents of internal domination; That President Goodluck Jonathan, in opting for the National Conference, has demonstrated recognition of the need to revisit the fundamental issues of state-building without which we will not have the community structures and community spirit for achieving best governance at all levels; That in convening the National Conference, the central government should rely on the submissions of the ethnic nationalities in Nigeria rather than the report of the Presidential Advisory Committee (PAC) on National Conference.
The reason being that the PAC's report is, in several respects; anti-minorities, anti-federalism, and merely seeks to strengthen the fraudulent '1999 Constitution'.
From the foregoing, we demand the following: The number of delegates to represent Socio-Political/Cultural and Ethnic Nationality Groups from the South-South and North-Central Regions should be reviewed upwards from fifteen (15) to reflect their ethnic diversity as they have the highest concentration of numbers of ethnic minorities; That "centrifugal" forces like 'Boko Haram' (BH), O'odua People's Congress (OPC), Movement for the Actualisation of the Sovereign State of Biafra (MASSOB), Niger Delta Peoples Volunteer Force (NDPVF), Niger Delta Peoples Salvation Front (NDPSF), Movement for the Emancipation of Niger Delta (MEND), Movement for the Survival of Ogoni People (MOSOP), etc.
, should be allowed representation at both the Regional and National Conferences; That the TNC should not be organised in a way that it can generate a Federal Constitution that will attempt to meddle into the internal affair of the federating units; That the federating units should be allowed to generate their own constitutions and laws; That the Geopolitical Zones, acting as Region, be recognised as the federating units.
Finally, it is my hope that you address this petition with the urgency that it deserves.
I shall continue to throw my support behind this historic effort to redirect the Nigerian ship of state away from her current turbulent course.
Yours in service to humanity, Mark Olise Secretary, Pan Niger Delta Congress (PNDC)/Pan Niger Delta Action Council n