The Environmental Rights Action/ Friends of the Earth Nigeria at its Annual General Meeting held in Oghara, Delta State 14-17 July 2009 reviewed recent events in the country, among other matters.

The meeting was attended by ERA/FoEN Board, Management, Staff, community campaigners and volunteers and concluded that the nation appears to be on a steady slide to systemic anomie reinforcing the need for urgent political actions including dialogue, negotiations and a Sovereign National Conference (SNC).

The Issues
The bombing of Atlas Cove in Lagos, six hundred kilometres away from the boiling creeks of the Niger Delta, opens a new chapter in our festering national crises. Although in nowhere has this political and governance crises been most dramatically manifested as in today’s Niger Delta, the attack on the oil loading depot clearly represents the urbanisation of the region’s historic grievances.

The rumblings will echo for many years and its aftermath is unpredictable. This is the time for calm, deliberate, courageous and patriotic political counter action that should lead to an immediate stoppage of violence on all sides. This is the time for healing and no more killing. It is a moment in our history when the threat to our national cohesion and stability should not be misread by orchestrated exigency of we-know-it-all. It is dangerous to do so. As attractive and seductive as it is to dismiss the attack on the Cove as another "militant" or "criminal" strike, that action goes beyond commercial criminality and armed militancy.

The door of our national togetherness is being slammed with a huge hammer of bitterness and we must find out the root of the bitterness so that our doors are not damaged beyond repair. We must proceed to address this expressed bitterness comprehensively and constitutionally!

We all saw it coming but chose to ignore it believing that it is "their" problem and far away in the creeks. Some groups, including the National Assembly, even suggested that the region where the problem is should be visited with troops. One House member went further to suggest that a "sacrifice of 20 million" of the inhabitants of the oil fields “to save the remaining one hundred million" Nigerians was permissible so as to achieve stability. The troops are there. Many villages have been destroyed. A lot of people have being killed and thousands displaced but the oil and gas, the main reason for the military solution, is endangered more than ever before!

ERA/FoEN has over the years continued to call attention to the fragility of our nation, the degradation of the environment across the country especially the Niger Delta and, at great risk to our staff and volunteers, requested that something be done.

In 1999 we assembled some of Nigeria’s finest thinkers in Port Harcourt to look at the Constitution of Nigeria. In the conference report titled: THE EMPEROR HAS NO CLOTHES, we observed the many imperfections and impediments to our advancement as a country and concluded that Decree 24 which we call a constitution is not only dictatorial but is a document of slavery and fraud that will not allow our beloved country to achieve its full potentials. We suggested changes which sadly, General Olusegun Obasanjo who succeeded General Abubarkar Abdulsalam paid deaf ears to. He spent eight years dancing between extending his tenure and fighting his deputy and even posturing as the winner of the civil war!

Blueprint for Change
ERA/FoEN believes there is still an opportunity for change and this will happen if we as a people seize this initiative to promote change. Our suggested blueprint to the peoples and government in addition to, and in support to, what other patriotic Nigerians and organistions have suggested is as follows:

  1. That the process for the convocation of a Sovereign National Conference (SNC) be immediately initiated to fashion out a truly Nigerian constitution that will provide for true fiscal federalism and environmental justice among others;
  2. A comprehensive review of the electoral law to guarantee transparent, violence–free and fair elections.
  3. Immediate restoration of the rights of communities to own and control their natural resources;
  4. That all new oil be left in the soil. This calls for a complete stoppage of new oil exploration and bidding oil allocation the allocation of new oil and gas or bitumen blocs. We have a comprehensive proposal on how revenue shortfall will be avoided and our environment will be duly protected.
  5. No stimulus package to any business. We believe that the only section of our nation that needs stimulus package are local communities;
  6. Instead of a stimulus package, government should invest massively in the power sector, education and health and much needed infrastructure at all levels;
  7. Devolution of powers by the Federal Government to the states and keeping only the very essentials such as Defence, Immigration, Currency and a few others at the centre.
  8. Reinvigorated and sincere war against corruption, and wastage through accountability mechanisms, advocacy and other administrative and legal actions.
  9. A comprehensive policy to protect the environment, local livelihoods and local economies;
  10. A cessation of hostilities on all sides in the on-going conflict in the Niger Delta and the complete demilitarisation of the region. ERA/FoEN votes for dialogue and will support it totally. There is no force more powerful.


On behalf of the Board, Volunteers, Staff and Management.
Oghara, Delta State July 17, 2009

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