Idumange John NDIG COMMUNIQUE

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THIS IS A COMMUNIQUE ISSUED BY INTERACTIVE FORUM ORGANISED BY NIGER DELTA INTEGRITY GROUP, NDIG IN CONJUNCTION WITH CIVIL SOCIETY GROUPS IN PORT HARCOURT TODAY BEING SATURDAY JULY 16, 2011 @ THE BOLTON HALL OF HARTFORD HOTELS LIMITED IN PORT HARCOURT, RIVERS STATE BY 4.00PM

Being a Communiqué Issued by the Niger Delta Integrity Group, NDIG in conjunction with civil society groups such as Movement for the Survival of the Ogoni People (MOSOP), Centre for Environmental and Political Education, CEPE, Action & Centre for Global Non-violence ACGNV and the Amnesty International Port Harcourt amongst others after an interactive session on Saturday 16th July, 2011 at Bolton Hall of Hartford Hotels Limited, Port Harcourt, Rivers State - Nigeria.

1. That unemployment remains the greatest challenge of the Niger Delta Region. Unemployment is worsened by structural displacement of the people from their most valued resource –Land. It was unanimously agreed by discussants that the Land Use Act of 1978 as amended should be repealed, as this will reduce youth unemployment- which has assumed a frightening dimension. It was agreed that traditionally, land is owned by communities hence the Federal Government has flagrantly abused the principle of Nemo Dat Quod Non Habet established under the Common Law.

2. That the Niger Delta Struggle continues in a new dimension. It started with agitations, by groups who sought for economic and environmental, which culminated in some form of insurgency. Now, the struggle has entered a new phase - the intellectual-cum ideological phase. It is against this background that issues of higher revenue especially the demand for increased derivation, responsible representation and equity in the allocation of projects appear likely to be addressed by the election President Goodluck Jonathan – a President of Niger Delta extraction.

3. That the fundamental challenges facing national integration are structural-deeply rooted in a faulty constitution. Therefore without political restructuring through a change in the constitutional by the present government, all measures and strategies presently being taken to redress will not trickle down to 80% of the masses. On the contrary, such palliative measures may yield unintended consequences.

4. That the NDDC Act is faulty because it shifts power to the centre instead of decentralizing it. The same factors had bedeviled all other interventionist agencies, which were adjudged as not successful going by evidence of continuing agitation in the Region. Civil Society has noticed with utter dismay that the management of NDDC is not working in synergy with the Board hence there is a disconnect in policy formulation and implementation. This trend is counter-productive and defeats the laudable mission to “facilitate the rapid, and sustainable development and to establish a region that is economically prosperous socially stable ecologically regenerative and politically peaceful”.

5. That we must change the dynamics and definition of the struggle for the present time. The efficacy of the struggle should not be determined by is not determined by arm resistance and development not seen as infrastructure. The new focus should be on leadership development and human capital capacity building

6. That the Niger Delta should be grateful to the Government of Late President Yar'Adua for the establishment the Amnesty programme, which is now a beacon of hope in the fight against unemployment In the Region. Under the present leadership, the Amnesty Programme is adjudged to have achieved some measure of success in the light of its emphasis on capacity building of youths in under-water welding, Pipeline welding, Piloting, ICT Engineering, Marine Engineering and Sea-faring among others. Civil Society believes that these skills are essential for the emerging hydrocarbon industry. The Amnesty Programme has not only stopped militancy but created an environment for youths to unleash their potentials. It was against this backdrop that the NDIG and other Civil Society Groups urge the Federal Government to fund the Amnesty Programme adequately to avoid a relapse to the status quo ante bellum.

7. That a separate Commission be established by the Federal Government to address the environmental challenges of shore erosion, silting, gas flaring, oil spillage; the effects of seismic activities, the discharge of industrial effluents among other environmental problems facing the Niger Delta Region. This will yield desired results when the obnoxious laws are repealed and the MNCs and other stakeholders are compelled to execute their Corporate Social Responsibilities (CSR).

This Communiqué was signed at 4.00 pm as agreed upon by the Niger Delta Integrity Group and Other Civil Society Organization, which were represented at the interactive forum.

Idumange John Charles Mopho Nwokedi Nworisara

Deputy President, NDIG Amnesty International Secretary General, NDIG

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Articles by Idumange John