Development, a term as inexhaustible as it is incomprehensible, has come to be understood by the application of certain tests that bother on the comparative assessment of certain indices of socio-economic and cultural standards of living. Over the years, mankind, acting through municipal and international legislation, declarations and co-operations, has recognized the right to self advance both at individual and collective levels as a basic right inherent in man and worthy of preservation by authorities, be they national or international.
In this paper, our onerous duty is to examine the question of Development in the Niger Delta Region of Nigeria with a view to appraising the level to which the individual and collective rights of the people of the region have been preserved or otherwise eroded over the years.
While we recognize from the onset that this is no mean task, we console ourselves with the fact that many have done some work on development and we can proceed in our arduous task by examining the application of the various indices of development in the Niger Delta Region of the Nigerian State.
LOCATING THE NIGER DELTA
The Niger Delta describes the fan formation arising from the spread of the distributories at the base of the River Niger wherein it empties into the Atlantic Ocean. It is a geographical feature covering the current Rivers, Bayelsa, Delta, Akwa Ibom parts of the Edo and Cross River States. It must not be mistaken as is often done now,1 for a synonym for oil bearing communities as that exists beyond the Niger Delta to Imo, Abia and Ondo States.
Its people are the Urhobo, Itsekiri, Ijaw, Ogba, Ekpeye, Kalabaris, Okrikas, Ikwerres, Ogonis, Efiks, Ibibios and peoples of other ethnic nations in the said States.
Geologically described as that quarternary Coastal and deltaic plain sediments that are hydrologically bordered by water flow derived from the River Niger, beginning above the bifurcation of the Niger River into the Nun and Forcados River at Aboh, the area which forms one of the sedimentary basins in the Southern Nigeria is well defined by natural boundaries such as the Calabar flank on the East, the Benin flank on the West, the Atlantic Ocean and the Gulf of Guinea on the South and the Anambra basin/Abakaliki Aticlinorium and the Afikpo Synsclines on the North.
* written before May 29, 1999.
The Niger Delta Region measures a total of 70,000 square kilometres and lies within the geographical coordinates of latitutdes 4o and 6o North, and longitudes 3o and 9o East. While the occupation of its peoples is predominantly fishing and farming with complementary trading, Western education has thrived in the region, leading to the emergence of a large number of skilled manpower in a pletora of sectors.
The region has commanded an all time relevance in Nigerian history, because of its natural endowments such as Palm Oil in the Pre-colonial to early nationhood Nigeria, and Crude Oil and Gas which currently has monotonous command of the Nigerian economy, accounting for over 95% of Nigeria’s current revenue source.
The Niger Delta Environmental Survey2 has identified the region as structurally variegated with such features as growth faults over anticlines and diapires composing its cross check plus geodetic composition made up of (1) The Akata formation, (2) The Agbada formation and (3) The Benin formation.
While the Akata formation consisting of Marine shales (fossil rocks formed by the consolidation of clay, mud or silt) is the main constituent rock of the Region, with a thickness in the range of 600-6000m, this rock has resisted the current spate of oil drilling as it is under-compact and over pressurised.
The Agbada formation consisting of mainly sands, sandstones and silt-stones of varied characters (Pebbly to fine grained, sub angular to sub rounded poorly consolidated, the clay content of the Agbada formation increases and hardens downwards as it fuses into the Aka formation. This formation constitutes the main hydrocarbons including crude oil and natural gas reservoirs of the Niger Delta. Nearly 90% of Nigeria’s oil and gas is currently produced from the growth faults and anticlines of this formation.
The Benin formation, a predominantly continental formation, consists of highly porous sandstones, gravels and fresh water with a thickness range of 1500-2000m.3
The full purport of the term developent is not easily comprehensible. The conventional procedure therefore is to explain its various understandings, in a variety of expressions conveying the multifaceted meanings of the term. Be that as it may, we may be guided by the attempts fortunately made by sholars who have previously undertaken to study this complex subject.
According to Walter Rodney in his epic - How Europe Underdeveloped Africa,
“At the level of the individual, it (development) implies increased skill and capacity, greater freedom, creativity, self discipline, responsibility and material well being”.4
And for Professor Claude Ake, development is a collective increase or advancement in the capacity of a people to realise greater or higher quality and standard of life in accordance with their values, yearnings and environment.5 We may therefore conclude that development is a manifestation of the capacity of a people to independently increase their ability to live a more satisfactory life through independent pursuit, understanding and exploitation of their environment. In other words, the ability and process of attainent of an all round higher standard of living through indigenous or personal effort.
The above view is strongly supported by the World Bank report on Development which states, inter alia:
“The challenges of development, in the broadest sense, is to improve the quality of life. … a better quality of life generally calls for higher incomes - but it involves much more. It encompasses, as ends in themselves, better education, higher standards of health and nutrition, less poverty, a clean environment, more equality of opportunity, greater individual freedom, and a richer cultural life”.6
Since Development transcends economic growth and higher income rate, understanding improvement of the quality of life which development comes down to, involves examination of the state of certain basic variable indicators, viz (a) Population, (b) Earning power, (c) Inflation rate, (d) Life expectancy, (e) Literacy. To these may be added social, cultural and infrastructural advancement. Understanding developent thus requires an understanding of the rate of improvement and height of attainment of the above indicators in any state or object of an inquiry.
RIGHT TO DEVELOPMENT
Right has been defined in the Chambers Twentieth Century Dictionary as “a just or legal claim; what one has a just claim to, a due” meaning, a legally justified claim. A right we may say is a capacity or interest recognised and protected by the law or some other norm. A right may therefore be religious, moral, social or cultural, but is legal, only when the law, beyond recognition procures its protection and enforcement. Such protected rights, according to Hohfeld, includes liberty, power, immunity and claim. According to the Hohfeldian theory we have a right when others have no authority or justifiable right to affect us (liberty), e.g. freedom of movement.
When others are duty bound to obey or respect our bidding or command (power) e.g. dispository rights of will making. When others are helpless or powerless over us (immunity) and When others are legally liable to us and our will (claim/right e.g. right to life or property which others must respect.6A
Each of these categories or varieties of right, signify a character of the aggregate of the legal positions we refer to as right and each of them represents a position which the law will respect and protect as legal right. While liberty and immunity are defensive claims, power and claim are offensive or positive claims which the bearer can enforce against others. So long as we have not been disqualified by any impediments of legal nature, these rights can be exercised and enforced at the law courts of the land.
It follows naturally that where a right is not justiciable as in cases where the law creates a duty on government but confers not right of action on citizens, such legal provisions however function as defences to charges of breach of public policy or duties, which may arise in event of a citizen taking advantage of the constitutional directives to the government in ordering his life, conduct or business to his developmental advantage.
Can we then in the light of the above, say that there is a right to development? Put differently, is development a right? To anwer this question, we must have recourse to the statute books since the right of our interest is a right legally enforceable, for it then means that we must find expression and justification of such assertion, somewhere spelt out in one law or another capable of enforcement in the ordinary courts of law.
Since development includes Educational, Economic, Scientific, Social and Cultural advancement, we can find provisions littered in the 1999 Nigerian Constitution (hereinafter referred to as CFRN).6B These include the provisions for Judicious Management of the economy and material resources of communities for the common good of all including the bearing communities.7
Section 17(2)(d) thereof tacitly provides:
“Exploration of human or natural resources in any form whatsoever for reasons other than the good of the community shall be prevented”.
The right of development has long since transcended national or municipal legislation, to international protection. A number of international legislation not only declares human and peoples right to developent, but also demands national respect for such individual and collective rights.
The Universal declaration of Human Rights (hereinafter called UDHR) provides and declares:
“Everyone as a member of society, has the right to social security and is entitled to realisation through national effort and international co-operation and in accordance with the organisation and resources of each state of the economic, social and cultural rights indispensable for his degnity and the free development of his personality”.8
The above taken together with other provisions of the UDHR9 leave us in no doubt as to the “enforceable” character of the right to developent. If there ever was a doubt about the international status of development, that doubt was cleared by the United Nations Organisation in 1966 when it adopted the International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights and the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights. Article 1 of both Covenants provide identically as follows:-
- All peoples have the right of self determination. By virtue of that right, they freely determine their political status and freely pursue their economic, social and cultural developent.
- All peoples may, for their own ends freely dispose of their natural wealth and resources without prejudice to any obligation arising out of International Economic Co-operation, based upon the principle of mutual benefit, and international law. In no case may a people be deprived of its own means of subsistence.
- The States party to the present Covenant, including those who have responsibility for the administration of Non Self-Governing and, Trust Territories, shall promote the realisation of the right of self determination, and shall respect that right, in conformity with the provisions of the charter of the United Nations.
These provisions are further embellished by the United Nations Declaration on Permanent Soveregnty over Natural Resources which provides inter alia:
“The rights of peoples and nations to permanent sovereignty over their natural wealth and resources must be exercised in the interest of their national development and of the well being of the people of the State concerned”.10
“Violation of the rights of peoples and nations to sovereignty over their natural wealth and resources is contrary to the spirit and principles of the Charter of the United Nations and hinders the development of international co-operation and the maintenance of peace.”11
The African Charter on Human and Peoples Rights (ACHPR) declares in no uncertain terms in several Articles, the Right of a people to existence and enjoyment of their natural Resources.12 These include Article 22 which provides:
“1. All peoples shall have the right to their economic, social and cultural developent with due regard to their freedom and identity and in the equal enjoyment of the common hearing of mankind”.
“2. States shall have duty, individually or collectively to ensure the exercise of the right to development”.
The peoples of the Niger Delta are persons and nations which fall within the meaning of those expresions in international law and municipal law, and are therefore entitled to the rights, protections and guarantees so clearly emphasises in the above municipal and international legislatie provisions.
THE FEATURES OF DEVELOPMENT IN THE NIGER DELTA
An examination of Development in the Niger Delta will entail an appraisal of indices of development as they stand in the Niger Delta. This will be done as briefly as possible with special emphasis on highlighting the current state of the basic indicators of Development in the Region such as income, literacy, employment opportunities, standard of living, the enrivonment and life expectancy.
THE RESOURCES CONTROL QUESTION
Since we have observed from the preceding pages that development, to a great extent, is an all round improvement in the quality of life of a people in accordance with their aspirations and values, resulting from their own endeavour, we must draw the inference that, to a large extent, development must depend on a people’s ability to exercise the right of self determination, since the endeavour and perspective of advancement must be in accordance with their own value system and aspiration.
To examine development in the Niger Delta Region, we must therefore move from the past to the present of the region and its people. For convenience, we limit our flash back to the period of Nigerian independence - 1960.
On independence day, October 1, 1960, the Niger Delta Region had no independent political existence of its own to give expression to its socio-economic, political and development aspirations. Politically gerrymandered into the amorphous Southern Regions of Western and Eastern Nigeria, its people were more or less, a voiceless insignificant component of the two regions without sufficient representation to initiate and promote their aspirations through the regional legislatures, and without sufficient political power and prominence to sway the regional government policies in favour of their sense of value or perceived developmental need.
It is important to note that, at this stage, the regions commanded sufficient control over their resources to enable them plan their developent. Uptill 1970, the regions had sufficient control over their destinies, each region owning the entire revenue generated from the sale of the three cash crops which commanded the economy at the time. These were Cocoa, Groundnut and Palm oil for Western, Northern and Eastern regions respectively.
With the introduction of the Federation Account in 1960 following the recommendation of the 1958 Raisman Commission, as system of Revenue allocation strictly based on the principle of derivation, still left the regional governments owning 96% of the total revenue generated whilst only 5% went to the Federal Government. It is imperative that we also note that at this time 50% of the proceeds of export generated income from same crops also went to the regional governments.
By the middle of the 1960s and early 1970s, when oil began to take over the economy the Nigerian State under the control of the three major hegemonic ethnic nationalities that dominate the regions, changed the Revenue allocation formula from derivation to one totally taken over by the Federal Government and granted to component States of the Federation on the basis of population and development need.
Needless to state at this point that with the creation of twelve States out of the Federation with only three (Rivers, Cross River and Bendel) covering the oil rich Niger Delta region, the proceeds of economic activities in States had ceased to yield State revenue and become Federal Government property.
Through the instrumentality of the 1970 Decrees on Offshore Oil take over by the Federal Government, and Decree No. 6 of 1975, the royalty share of oil producing States dropped, and stood at 1.5% by 1980. As if this was not bad enough, the Aboyade Technical Committee on Revenue Allocation finally foreclosed the oil producing States from profiting, including the Niger Delta Regions, when it substituted the principle of derivation with population, equality of States, need, land mass, etc. as the principles of Revenue allocation to States,13 principles and criteria which the Niger Delta States lacked seriously in comparism with the larger regions.
The implication of the above developments for the States of the Niger Delta was that with their little populations, land mass, political power and member, they were doomed to very little proportion of the proceeds from their wealth while the non-producing large majority States took the lion shares. With such humble beginnings, it is not surprising that the States and peoples of the Niger Delta lacked the Development Boards of the former regions that transformed them from tribal regions to today’s captains in industry, education and other fields.
With such stipends as are handed down to the States of the Niger Delta as all they have to grapple with the health, educational and infrastructural needs of their people, the stage was set for a complete disempowerment of the Region and its people.
With the enactment of the Land Use Decree of 1978, the carpet was swept off the feet of the Niger Delta Region and its people. The Federal Government did not only take over the royalty and other proceeds from their resources, the land in the region became property of a Federal Government predominated and controlled by larger hegemonic ethnic groups. Added to the Petroleum Act, Mineral Resources Act and the Oil Pipelines Act, the Region was completely disinherited of its natural resources and source of development. Even damages for operators’ breach of safety rules which impacted directly on the immediate surroundings were taken over by the Federal Government.
Between 1958 and 1990 (32 years), over 1,634,998,138 (i.e. 1,634 billion or 1.6 trillion) barrels of crude oil were extracted from the bowels of the Niger Delta at the average of $10 per barrel. This amounts to over $350 billion representing 95% of the total revenue of the nation, out of this only less than N50 billion was allocated to its few States and local governments, while the Federation and other non producers took the bulk of N300 billion.
To further agravate the situation, the dichotomy of “onshore” and “offshore” oil production was introduced to deny offshore nationalities of the Niger Delta the ‘producing community’ status with its attendant benefit which in any event, the national government has been reluctant to implement13. Consequently, Niger Delta States such as Akwa Ibom State with a generous production quota and negatie impacts from its Eket offshore fields, are sidelined and denied the withheld benefits of stakeholder. Thus making their problem more complex.
It is stating the obvious, to say that the waters wherein the oil is drilled, is Nigerian territorial waters, only because it lies within the territorial bounds of an indigenous Nigerian Community. Hence the folly of the dychotomy that denies such States as Akwa Ibom, ownership identity over those waters.
With the above development, the setting up of a Niger Delta Developent Basin or even OMPADEC was of no conequence to the region as it only created opportunity for imposition of ‘white elephant’ projects that bear little or no relevance to the peoples’ needs, their values and aspirations. In the same vein, the currently proposed Niger Delta
Development Bill is an attempt to determine the peoples need without consulting them. It will fail and has been appriopriately rejected by the region.14
CIVIL LIBERTY AND INDIVIDUAL FREEDOM
Liberty is the enabling environment for deep reflection, enquiry and expression and therefore a pre-condition for development.15 The Niger Delta Development experience witnessed the establishment of Niger Delta States under a militarised setting in which indigenous leaderhsip and legislatures had been replaced by non indigenous military sole administrators. Here, the sense of citizenship and communal loyalty had given way to sycophancy, praise - singing and a grab-all syndrome. The objective of the government functionary was no longer one of service to the people, but one of elevation of such functionaries to a glorified position of personal agrandisement and wealth accumulation.
Throughout the modern history of the States of the Niger Delta, they have been ruled by military and civilian administrators whose sole responsibility was to maintain peace in the region while the Federal Government milked it dry. For this purpose, Commissioners of Police in these States have been largely drawn from the controlling majority tribes, the same applied to Divisional Police Officers (DPOs) especially in the States with rich oil presence.16
Dissent have been answered with severe militay reprisals as in the case of the Ogoni, the Ogba and currently the Ijaw peoples of the Niger Delta. It is well known that civil liberties are trampled and fundamental rights are foreclosed17 and breached with levity, the people lived in fear, could only shallow and thus could not contrive their advancement.
Alien initiation of Developent plans and projects have been another feature of the development process in the Niger Delta. Over the years, the all wise non-indigenous military administrators have chosen for the peoples of the region, what to need and acquire. This naturally has led to spending of the stipend inequitably allocated to the States of the region, on projects that bear no relationship with their aspirations and basic needs.
ECONOMY AND PURCHASE POWER
In 1989 Gross Net Product (GNP) per capita in Nigeria stood at US $250 per annum. Between the years 1985 and 1989, the average rate of growth per annum stood at a meagre 0.2% with inflation rate at 14.7% between 1965 and 1980, and 14.2 between 1980 and 1989*. As at 1994, the World Bank records indicate that the GNP per capita
stood at Atlas $280 per annum, a growth rate percentage of 1.2% between 1985 and 1994. For the average Niger Deltan, this represents his average total income per annum since he is barred from participating in the exploration and exploitation of the more lucrative natural resources of his region. This no doubt is below actual cost of living, and naturally renders such earners, investment-impotent. Already, what could have been a second income earner - fishing and farming have been completely stifled to subsistence by the dispoiling and distabilising effect of environmental degradations occasioned by oil and gas exploration undertaken by multinational oil companies in conjunction with the Federal Government.
One peculiar feature of the Niger Delta Region of Nigeria, is the pervasive presence of heavy industries dealing on the major economic sector of the Nigerian State - Oil and Gas. For over 38 years, multinational and Trans-national companies such as Shell Petroleum Development Company Nigeria Limited, Nigeria Agip Oil Company Limited, Elf Petroleum Nigeria Limited, Cheveron Nigeria Limited and Mobil Unlimited have been glued to the Niger Delta region. Ordinarily, this should have elicited joy for the employment opportunities it would offer the people of the region, but this has not been so. The staff of the companies have been dominated by majority ethnic groups who take up the management positions, flood the company with their ethnic kins and keep the Niger Delta hosts away through the “underqualified” and “over-qualified” syndrome, even in flagrant disregard of the letters of the Nigerian law and policy on employment.18
The impact of the activities of these companies on the Niger Delta environment has been denigrating and the ecology utterly devastated. Carbon monoxide and other chemicals are flared into the skies, causing acid rain which when washed into the soil, affects agriculture, and life and corrodes zinc and other physical structures besides the negative effects on the health of the people of the Niger Delta who largely depend on rain and surface water in absence of potted and treated water.
Prospecting activities on the other hand have seriously reduced the acquifer permeability of the soil, which, according to experts, has reduced infiltration of rain water leading to increased run off and perennial flooding, with its attendant destructive impact on plants and habitation.
Life expectancy for Nigeria in 1981 and 1992 stood at 51 according to World Bank reports. There is no doubt that for the Niger Deltan life expectancy must have stand at about 45 as the gradual environmental annihilation leaves the people in the words of Professor Claude Ake “dying instalmentally”, especially for instance, in Ogbaland in Rivers State where two Liquefied Natural Gas Plants are nearing commissioning without any base line studies or Environmental Impact Assessments.”19
IMPACTS ON DEVELOPMENT RIGHTS IN THE NIGER DELTA
Having examined the peculiar trend of development in the Niger Delta, we shall now briefly highlight the impact of these features of development on the development capacity and consequently right of the people of the Niger Delta of Nigeria.
The loss of control over the natural resources of the Niger Delta, leaves the people of the region desolate without means. Land is the key factor of production and the base of their natural resources. Having seised the offshore, the statutory seizure of the land through the Land Use Act, perfects the theft of the people’s basic source of development. It offends against the Constitution of Nigeria and the International Covenants on Permanent Sovereignty over natural resources. It renders the people “right impotent” by devalueing their capacity and is contrary to the spirit of the Charter of the United Nations and African Charter on Human and people’s rights.
The Militarisation of the region through the stationing of armies of occupation who beat and kill the people in attempt to cow them into submission, is a breach of their right to an enabling environment and freedom to articulate their developmental objectives and pursue their self realisation both as persons and as ethnic people.20
The imposition of non indigenous military administrators who, impose projects on the people of the region and compel them to lose their budgetay stipend on projects that do not enhance their capacity to attain better living standard, robbed the region of the right of elf determination by virtue of which they should freely determine their political status and pursue their economic, social and cultural development with due regard to their peculiar needs, freedom and identity.
The resultant low purchasing power as indicated by an extremely low GNP per capita is dehumanising and perpetuates poverty. The direct consequence is that it denies the victim the power to invest and irmprove himself to the best of his ability, and denies children the right to education and parents the right to provide for their dependants. It is certainly a travesty of their right to social and economic development as provided even by international law such as the International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights (ICESCR), a right which is indispensable for individual and peoples dignity and the free development of personality. We must not forget so soon, Mahatma Gandhi’s truism that,
“Poverty is an insult. Poverty stinks. It demeans, dehumanises, destroys the body and the mind… If not the soul, it is the deadliest form of violence. Worst of all, poverty persists and outlives even the most imaginative strategies to alleviate it”.
The right to a clean environment and to enhanced capacity to enjoy a higher life expectancy are related, and equally important in development.
The degradation of the Niger Delta environment portends ecological disaster and environmental genocide. A poisoned environment affects the people through inhalation of unhealthy chemicals, poisoning of plants and animals as well as the soil which consequently yields a much smaller harvest20A. This is a crime against the pople as it denies them the right to life by killing them instalmentally. A situation which negates the ACHPR by which -
“All peoples shall have the right to a general satisfactory environmeent favourable to their development.”21
As the ICESCR provides:
“The States parties to the (present) covenant recognise the right of everyone to the enjoyment of the highest attainable standard of physical and mental health.”22
THE PATH TO SUSTAINABLE DEVELOPMENT (RECOMMENDATIONS)
In my considered opinion, the standard of life in the Niger Delta can certainly be improved. The region already has sufficient human resources, what is now left is economic empowerment and state compliance with the rule of law and respect for Civil Liberty. To this end, one recommends:
That the Land Use Act be repealed along with the Petroleum Acts that robb the region to enhance other regions’ development. The region can then, in the spirit of true federalism, pay requisite tax to the central government while using the resources generated in the area to develop its incidentally very difficult terrain.23
That Section 251(1)(n) of the 1999 Constitution be deleted by way of amendment, as it negates the Constitutional right of the people of the Niger Delta to free access to the Courts of Justice, forecloses Legal remedy and fosters hostility among the people as well as engendering resort to self help, all of which are inimical to sustainable democracy and development.24
That proper restructuring of the Nigerian State be undertaken not only in terms of political delineation but also in economic sphere to bring it in line with the operational patterns of a Federal State.
That a sovereign national conerence be called to provide an enabling environment for the Federating ethnic nationalities of Nigeria to re-examine, review and strengthen their unity. With the Military gone, this conference poses no threat of formenting sessionist agenda as the Military tension that once brought the country to a suicidal precipice has abated.25
That the judiciary be properly equipped to enable it discharge its constitutional duty of dispensing justice without undue influence and arm twisting from the other realms of government. This way the courts in the Niger Delta will uphold the rights of its people as bonafide citizens against both government and oil and gas operators and check their disempowering policies and practices.
In the interim one recommends as short term paliative, that:
The army of occupation in the region, asembled as crises mitigation force, wherever they still exist, should be dismantled and withdrawn to release the region from the “war psyche” which if the adults survive, will certainly leave an indelible negative effect on the young and future generations of the region. The greatest security of oil and gas operators will come not from the barels of the Federal guns, but through the co-operation and participation of the host communities.
Oil and gas policies should be reviewed to give the prospecting and exploiting companies direct responsibility to provide health and other support facilities commensurate with the magnitude of hazard their operation creates on their host communities. In particular, strict compliance with the regulatory safety rules should be demanded of any company doing business in that high risk sector.
The people’s purchasing power should be enhanced through increament enhancement of workers’ incomes, employment and award of contracts, to guarantee their social and psychological reprieve and strengthen their dignity, self respect and development initiative capacity.
“Poverty is the most basic denial of Human Right because it denies the individual the right to dignity of life”. (Jallow Jubril, 1999).
We have seen from the foregoing, that development is a wide concept that refers not only to economic growth and high per capita income, not only to the presence of high technology, infrasturcture or state of the art goods, but one that stresses indigenous capacity to improve the quality of life from the point of need of the affected community, and in accordance with their value and aspirations, an all round leap forward.
The political and social condition of the Niger Delta region, the exploitative inequitable policies of the Nigerian State and the heartless onslaught by the multi-national and Trans-national oil companies have left the people of the Region in a state of economic disempowerment, social disorder, cultural extermination, environmental degradation, with ecological disaster hanging over their head like the sword of damocles.
Institutionalisation of poverty portend scientific and socio-economic impotence and ethnic dehumanisation. Men will lack the will to harness nature (science) and apply it to improvement of life (Technology), and conequently, lack the power to meet their socio-economic responsibility to their families. Mothers will lack the equanimity of mind to pursue the proper upbringing of children, and children will lose their right to education and socio-cultural preparation for adulthood and equipment to face the challenge of life and their obligation to the unborn generation. For a people, it points the way to extinction.
The inhalation of carbon monoxide, drinking of polluted water and eating of food prepared from acid-rain polluted ingredient leaves a people without an econogical base and environment to face the future.
The Nigerian State must face its responsibility, implement its law to the protection of its citizenry, guarantee to them, improved earning capacity to procure a living, and provide social amenities to cater for the health and environmental crisis in the Niger Delta, while considering proper structuring of the Federation to empower the people of the region by restoring to them, control of their natural wealth.
As Alex Boarine warned in 1992,
“The best constitution in the world cannot survive civil unrest brought about by deep-seated poverty grievances and unfulfilled expectations. Economic development and progress must go hand in hand with political change.”26
The future existence of Nigeria may well depend on the tenor of the decision it takes on theissue of sustainable development for its people.
- Aduche Wokocha Esq. is the Executive Director of Schaleworths centre for Democracy and Development and a Senior Lecturer in the Department of Public Law, Rivers State University of science and Technology, Nkpolu, Port Harcourt.
- See Ishola Williams: “Niger Delta Complex Problems Simplified” being a paper delivered at Anpez Centre Second Annual Lecture held on 26th Agugust, 1999, p.1. This same point is one of the crises that has trailed Obasanjo’s Niger Delta Development Bill proposed for enactment into law.
- See Niger Delta Environmental Survey, Vol.4, Phase 1, p.3 (1999).
- See for detail, Rivers Investments Journal an Executive Options Publication, Vol. No. 1, p.17 (1995).
- Walter Rodney: How Europe Underdeveloped Africa: George Allen Unwin Ltd., London, p.9.
- Claude Ake: “An African Context of Human Rights”, Africa Today, Vol. 34, Nos. 1 and 2, p.8. (1987).
- World Bank: World Development Report, Oxford, p.4, (1991).
6A. W.N. Hohfeld: Fundamental Legal Conceptions (ed. W.W. Cook) 1923, p.38.
6B. See CFRN 1999.
- Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria (CFRN), S.16 (1999)
- Article 22.
- See also Articles 26 - 28.
- Resolution 1803(xvii), Article 1(1).
- Ibid Article 1(7).
- See ACHPR Articles 18, 19, 20 and 22.
- See also Ishola Williams Opcit. P.7.
- See Nigerian Tide, p.2 (5/9/99). See also The Punch, Thursday, p.11 (7/9/99).
- See N.S.S. Iwe:History and Content of Human Rights,(1986) Peter Lang: Publications, New York. Pp.301-315. Iwe uses religio-legal authorities to stress the humanity and fundamentality of this point.
- Apparently to police the region into submission and hopelessness.
- See CFRN, 1999, S.251(1)(n) which forecloses the right of accss to the available High Court and transfers the Jurisdiction to hear Civil and Criminal Matters on oil, gas and mines to the unconscionably few Federal High Courts.
- See paragraph 37 of 1st Schedule to the Petroleum Act, Cap. 345 LFN 1990.
- See the Communique of Ogba Solidarity on the Obite Project Explosion of 1999. Reported in Newswatch, p.23, (26/4/99).
- They are afflicted with the psyche of people under siege and naturally live on edge, unable and sometimes afraid to think aloud, like their kins Ken Saro-Wiwa and Professor Claude Ake, for ffear of reprisal.
20A. See the European Commission Green paper (1996) which identified environmental noise, a pre-dominant polution in the Niger Delta as a major source of insomnia, functional anger and disturbances, headache, psychiatric problems, miscariage in women and reduced intelligbility.
- See ACHPR Article 24.
- Article 12(1).
- This position consistently demanded in the region in the past one decade is beautifully articulated by Ishola Williams, Op. cit. In Pp. 8 - 10.
- See Ishola Williams, Op. cit. P.16 for a guiding discussion of this proposal.
- The growing trend of militant ethnic nationalism as in e.g. MOSOP, IYC, Egbesu boys, OPC are clear signs of resort to self help by aggrieved etchnic youths and people, resulting from the foreclosure of legal remedy.
- Cited in IDASA: Reflections on Democracy, Idasa Publications, Cape Town, p. 16 (1997).