United Ijaw * Welcome to United Ijaw on the web. Our preference is national self determination, the independence of Ijawnation as a Sovereign State. A state that promotes sustainable economic and social development, democratic principles, liberty, free enterprise, equal rights and justice. This is our story, this is our struggle. **** On Kaiama Declaration We Stand **** United Nations Under Secretary-General, Dr. Antonio Maria Costa, in Abuja condemned the theft of Nigeria's assets by past corrupt leaders. He said that kleptomaniac leaders stole more than 400 billion dollars from the Nigerian treasury between 1960 and 1999. **** IJAWNATION THINK! THINK. **** Almost $170 billion of the country’s wealth disappeared and ended in the private accounts of individuals between 1999 and 2003 alone... Priye Torulagha ****Nigeria has failed Niger Delta – Nnamani **** Resource Control: Niger-Delta governors are traitors – Evah **** Only the fear of a volcanic social eruption from below can stop barbaric behaviour by holders of political power – Gani Fawehinmi ***** “ if the Confab and Nigerians are not willing to heed to Resource Control, they will take it by force” - Oronto Douglas We Dare To Be Different.
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I am a Nigerian, a Niger Deltan and an Ijaw. As would all Ijaws, Niger Deltans, true Nigerians and lovers of freedom in the world, I thank and commend Jeff Koinange and CNN for this objective reporting of the Niger Delta Crisis which clearly shows that the Movement for the Emancipation of the Niger Delta, MEND, and its members are not terrorists but Freedom Fighters!!

Nigeria is sustained by the Ijaw wealth of Oil and gas, which accounts for about ninety (90%) of Nigeria’s revenue. Paradoxically, the Nigerian government refuses to provide roads, electricity, drinkable water, healthcare or quality education for the Ijaws while it provides such necessities for other Nigerians with proceeds from the Ijaw Oil Wealth. Furthermore, the Ijaws have been effectively robbed of their natural resources as the Nigerian State has given the ownership and control of the Ijaw resources to other Nigerians, on a platter of gold to the total exclusion of the Ijaws by its brazenly unfair Oil Industry Privatization Scheme. While other Nigerians have become millionaires and billionaires by looting the proceeds from our Oil Wealth, we live in abject poverty.

The unbridled continuous exploitation of crude oil and natural gas beneath the farms, fisheries and houses of the Ijaws over the past fifty years has caused indescribable and irredeemable environmental destruction and ecological devastation of Ijawland. There have been no countervailing environmental protection measures instituted by the Nigerian Government and the trans-national oil companies that principally benefit from the mining of these resources. Prior to the mining of crude oil and natural gas in Ijawland, there was abundance of fish in Ijawland and the Ijaws exported large quantities of fish. It is very sad, painful and unacceptable that the Ijaws now import fish to eat because pollution by highly toxic hydrocarbons from continual oil spillages has caused the virtual extinction of fish in our rivers. These pollutants have also rendered our farmlands barren as well as made our waters poisonous, carcinogenic and undrinkable. The continuous flaring of gas in the Niger Delta, besides being a reckless and an unconscionable waste of this valuable natural resource, has severely poisoned the air we breathe and produces acid rain that is extremely hazardous to our health and ecosystem. The continuous destruction of our habitat and traditional means of subsistence by oil prospecting activities results in the progressive deterioration of the socio-economic conditions of our already utterly impoverished Ijaw people. Consequently, the survival of the Ijaw people is under serious threat especially in the face of episodic genocide committed against our people by the Nigerian State. Since we depend on the Niger Delta ecosystem for our survival, its wanton destruction has made us to become highly endangered species of Homo sapiens.

In response to our peaceful agitation for fairness, equity and self-determination, the Nigerian government has inflicted an ever-intensifying Genocidal Reign of Terror on our defenseless people. In the last decade, members of the Nigerian Security Forces, acting at the behest of the Nigerian government, have wrongfully and needlessly murdered thousands of Ijaws, raided and burnt Ijaw towns and villages, cruelly tortured many of our people, imprisoned several Ijaw Rights Activists and raped numerous Ijaw women and children; in response to our legitimate demands for a halt to our oppression, the wanton destruction of our habitat and looting of our God-given wealth.

The Nigerian government has recently ordered gunboats from the United States to attack the Ijaws. Furthermore, it is aggressively sourcing supplies of weapons from China and elsewhere to further its war of genocide it is waging against the Ijaws to forcibly rob the Ijaws of their God-given Oil Wealth. Instead of engaging the Ijaws in dialogue to peacefully resolve the conflict, the Nigerian State has entered into alliance with foreign countries and foreign interests against the hapless Ijaw people. Instead of protecting the Ijaws as its own citizens, Nigeria is treating the Ijaws as foreigners, colonial subjects and enemies. Nigeria is determined to exterminate the Ijaws.

Our oppressors are the advocates of violence because they are using guns and violence, military force and genocide, to keep us oppressed. No Ijaw person would take a gun to fight if the oppressive Nigerian State does not use guns (military power) to repress us and deny us justice! A thief knows that it is wrong for him to take your personal property from you without your consent, and he knows that you will not allow him to do so, so he comes armed with a gun to coerce you to relinquish your property to him. Nigeria is committing armed robbery against the Ijaws. A thief comes to steal, kill and destroy. Nigeria is stealing our resources, killing us, and destroying our habitat and means of livelihood. It is the most cruel irony of fate that our Ijaw people are being killed by Nigerian soldiers that are paid, clothed, fed, housed and armed with our Ijaw Oil Money; to enable the Nigerian government a nd the Oil Companies to plunder our resources and destroy our habitat. It is unacceptable that our God-given wealth has become our inexorable curse!

We are slaves and hostages in our own land. However, by virtue of Article 20 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, we cannot be forced to belong to the association called Nigeria.

Oppression is enforced by violence and terror that rob its hapless victims of their peace. The Nigerian State has visited tremendous violence and terror upon us to subdue us to steal our resources. Nigeria’s military forces of occupation in Ijawland continually murder and maim us, and rape our women. This terror and violence has totally robbed us of our peace and security. This terror and violence must stop for us to regain our peace and security. We, the Ijaws, are therefore engaged in a noble and heroic Struggle for Peace by resisting this horrendous violence and terror that have robbed us of our peace.

In the face of this intolerable oppression and proven intent and acts of the malevolent Nigerian state to exterminate the Ijaws and destroy their habit to steal their oil wealth, the Ijaws have no choice but to exercise their legitimate and God-given Right to Self-Defense!

Furthermore, it is the Nigerian State that has made dialogue and peaceful resolution of the Niger Delta Conflict impossible; by militarizing Ijawland and by ensuring that Ijaws who speak up are murdered or imprisoned as deterrent to other Ijaws. No Ijaw person will carry gun to fight the Nigerian State if Nigeria withdraws all its military forces of occupation in Ijawland and allows Ijaws to express their grievances without harassment and intimidation. 

Most importantly, it is our sacred custodial responsibility to ensure that the land God has given us is neither destroyed nor abused. At the minimum, we owe it to God and future Ijaw generations to preserve the fragile ecosystem and productivity of the Niger Delta that God lovingly provided for our sustenance. Furthermore, the pathological dependence of Nigeria on our “free” OIL WEALTH has engendered endemic corruption that has brought perpetual underdevelopment, poverty, destitution and misery to the Nigerian masses. As the rightful owners, it would be foolish and unpardonable for us to allow our resources to be wasted without any benefit. We must stop this plunder and profligacy!

The loss of any Nigerian or Ijaw life is extremely painful to us because we hate violence and bloodshed. But the Nigerian State should know that the sleeping dog may lay no more. We only claim, demand and defend that which is rightly and justly ours. Our motivation is love, our passion is justice, and our goal is liberty in peace. The Ijaw Freedom Fighters have shown remarkable restraint in the face of extreme provocation. While the evil and genocidal Nigerian military bombs sleeping Ijaw civilians in their villages, the Ijaw Freedom Fighters don’t even want to kill these same Nigerian troops! Our Fight is not against Nigeria or Nigerian soldiers but against evil and oppression! This is a battle of good against evil. We are confident of the glorious triumph of good over evil!

A self-imposed selfish, corrupt, dictatorial and unaccountable clique of opportunists rules Nigeria. Since these rulers do not need the mandate of Nigerians or Ijaws to rule, there is no political pressure or incentive for them to change the corrupt and unjust status quo that benefits them. The Niger Delta Conflict would therefore be kept aflame perpetually because the unjust status quo would continually evoke disenchantment amongst our people. This is the stark realty! The cause of the conflict is that the Nigerian State is robbing us of our resources and destroying our environment. Nigeria has the opportunity to destroy our environment and us simply because it has access to our lands and resources by virtue of our being part of Nigeria. This would be eliminated once we separate from Nigeria. Self-government for the Ijaws is therefore the solution to the Niger Delta Conflict. Freedom is the solution to oppression. The Ijaws will therefore reassert the sovereignty of the Ijaw Na tion that had always existed prior to our conscription into Nigeria by colonial Britain.

The Right of the Ijaws to Freedom and Self-government is given absolute support and legitimacy by The Conscience of Humanity as expressed in Article 1 of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights ratified and accented to on the16th of December 1966 by Resolution 2200A (XXI) of the General Assembly of the United Nations:

1. 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 development.

2. All peoples may, for their own ends, freely dispose of their natural wealth and resources without prejudice to any obligations 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.

3. The States Parties to the present Covenant, including those having responsibility for the administration of Non-Self-Governing and Trust Territories, shall promote the realization of the right of self-determination, and shall respect that right, in conformity with the provisions of the Charter of the United Nations.

We thank and commend Jeff Koinange and CNN for calling the attention of the world to the ruthless oppression, atrocious exploitation, reckless plundering, unconscionable environmental destruction, inhuman deprivations and utter dehumanization the Ijaws suffer in Nigeria.

The Ijaws call on all champions and lovers of freedom, and indeed the entire world, to join the Alliance for Freedom and stand with them against oppression.

Dr. Ebipamone N. Nanakumo

East Stroudsburg, Pennsylvania, USA

Niger Delta and the Nobel laureates (1)
By Eferovo Igho, eferigho100@yahoo.com

That the Niger Delta question has not been properly addressed by those who should is no more news. That this has sincerely bothered the locals and, in recent times, the international community, is no news either. Expressive voices and writings of the locals have filled our airwaves and print media with government caring less. The first major or note-worthy expression of the same concern by the international community came recently from the Commission of Nobel Laureates On Peace, Equity and Development in the Niger Delta Region of Nigeria when they highlighted some of the problems of the region and then attempted to proffer some measure of solution.

A brainchild of the Elie Wiesel Foundation for Humanity (EWF), the Commission was certainly spurred into their action in the Niger Delta primarily because of the Foundation’s vision for humanity, especially the oppressed. Elie Wiesel, French American author and Nobel Peace Prize winner (1986) for his great human rights promoting works has himself known deprivation, mind torture, nightmarish experiences and total humiliation in the hands of Nazi Germany. Deported with his parents to Auschwitz (a concentration camp in Poland) in 1944, Wiesel actually saw his parents killed in one of those concentration camps in Poland. All that, coupled with latter days’ revealing accounts of the experiences of others whilst he served as chairman of the U.S. President’s Commission on the Holocaust (1980-1986), should certainly make Wiesel eminently qualified, if you will, to establish the Elie Wiesel Foundation for Humanity in 1987.

And so, for Wiesel and his foundation it was, of course, easy to notice the oppression that has over the years been going on here in the Niger Delta because you cannot pass through serious traumatic treatment and see great horror as Wiesel did and fail to recognise one elsewhere even in the farthest of climes. And for a man who had spent greater part of his life rolling out themes that address Jewish sorry experiences in Nazi concentration camps during the 1939-1945 World War II, and for which works he largely earned his Nobel Peace Prize, it was just too natural for Wiesel and his foundation to focus gaze on today’s story of inhumanity of man to man that is the Niger Delta. To make that gaze formal and to give it the required credibility, the foundation constituted a commission with very great minds as members. We speak of a commission having scores of Nobel Laureates as members!

The Foundation for Humanity has not only therefore conceived its commission on the Niger Delta with the desired (proper) heart, pictured the suffering of the region with the required lens but set out to work with the best of hands. Their report (see Vanguard of Saturday, December 2, 2006) based on field interviews and secondary research with international and Nigerian experts contributing, represented itself as "an objective and independent body beholden to no government or enterprise". It says its recommendations are intended to mitigate human suffering and prevent violence that could "engulf Nigeria and spill over its borders".

In its document at the end of the day, the Commission was concerned about the evil that has come to befall the Niger Delta region because of oil: evil of environmental degradation, evil of siphoning the wealth of the people of the region by the political elite, and the evil that derives from those two evils; which is, total impoverishment of the goose that lay the national golden egg, and then, of how the combination of all of those have caused the volatility of this region.

On environmental degradation, the Commission’s report reiterated what some of us have been saying over the years. It reminded us that the Niger Delta region had the most extensive lowland tropical and fresh water forests, aquatic ecosystems, and biodiversity in West Africa before oil was discovered by Royal Dutch Shell in the Oloibiri axis in 1956; and that the people cultivated rice, sugarcane, plantain, palm oil, yams, cassava, and timber. Virtually all of that, as this December 1, 2006 document implied, had become history with the over 4,000 oil spills discharging more than two million barrels of crude which have occurred in the region since 1960. The document further echoed the obvious when it posited that oil slicks cover the region; blow-outs and leaks affect creeks, streams, and related traditional sources of livelihood, poisoning the water supply, destroying mangrove forests, eroding soil plots and killing aquatic life; hundreds of well-sites have flares, which come from the burning of associated gas and which heat up everything nearby and turn day into night, releasing in the process 25 million tons of carbondioxide CO2 and 12 million tons of methane annually with a resulting sulphuric acid mists damaging plants and forests, and polluting rain water, causing acid rain and contributing to climate change.

Expectedly, the document was not silent over what has agitated our minds for quite a time now and of which, again, some of us have virtually written our pens dry. It is the issue of corruption and of taking our wealth in droves to places other than our common treasuries. We were aptly reminded that since 1970, Nigeria has earned at least $300 billion from energy development, with 2005 accounting for $45 billion of that sum, and that with about 40billion barrels of proven oil reserves; Nigeria currently produces about 2.4 million barrels of oil/day. Alas, so much of the money has gone with filtering hands in high places! And having tackled together materials from various sources the laureates said with a pedagogic reach: "Corruption undermines economic growth, jeopardizes financial stability, and undermines confidence in government institution. It also leads to criminality that has corrosive effects on governance and the rule of law". It was its concern that Transparency International ranks Nigeria 152 out of 159 countries in its corruption index. Not that it doubted the rating! For it quickly went ahead to concur with Transparency International when it affirms the obvious, viz: That the Federal and state governments have stolen or wasted $380 billion since the country became independent in 1960! The culture of corruption, the document says, is pervasive, affecting state government as well as local officials. Their evidence, and this is current: 31 of the 36 state governors are currently under investigation for crimes and corruption. It went ahead to support the view that because Nigeria’s coffers are awash in oil revenue further fuels corruption by national and local political elite.

But while corruption sours to Everest and those scrambling to our government offices and their cohorts are making lots of money, the Commission’s document reminded us that the United Kingdom’s Department for International Development says that Nigeria has some of the worst social indicators in the world. And one proof was enough to spare the reader what we know is a catalogue: The World Bank estimates that 92.4% of Nigerian women are living on less than $2/day in 2006. That is almost the whole women-folk! The paper’s apparent pain and disgust could be captured in these words: "Though the Niger Delta’s energy assets provide nearly three-quarters of government revenues and roughly 90% of foreign earnings, they have not resulted in socio-economic development". It says that unemployment hovers at about 90%. And that is poverty unspeakable, you know! Yet it says further that many schools and hospitals lack staff, equipment, and necessary supplies. We interpret that to mean serious illiteracy and very sorry high mortality rate, and both are wickedly sponsored by people who surged to seats of power, using our states’ vaults to get our monies to send their children to the best of schools across America and Europe and give themselves and family members medical attention, again, across America and Europe.

Problematising Self-Determination
By Akpobibibo Onduku. The Guardian

One of the biggest challenges of the survivability of Nigeria's nascent democracy has been attributed to the Niger Delta question. It is not an understatement that the future of this largest black nation in the world critically depends on the post-2007 polls. There exist about 250 distinct ethnic groups speaking near 400 languages in Nigeria with the Niger Delta groups occupying a minority status situated in the south-south geopolitical zone. The people are beginning to see themselves as second-class citizens in their own country.

In international law, successions of groups have been really difficult. Since World War I, the recognition of minority groups and the right to self-determination of peoples has been ascribed into international law. Basically, self-determination is a principle in international law that a people ought to be able to determine their own governmental forms and structures free from outside influence. This right is today enshrined in such documents as the Charter of the United Nations, the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR), the International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights (ICESCR), and in the Declaration of the United Nations General Principles of International Law Concerning Friendly Relations and Cooperation of October 24, 1970.

According to this Declaration, every use of force depriving peoples of the right to self-determination violates international law. Therefore, the debates on minority protection through international instruments are not without precedent in history. Both external minority protection and self-determination have been hotly contested issues in the global arena. The non-recognition of nation-states has been a factor to the break-up of multinational states such as the former Soviet Union and Yugoslavia.

For a very long time, the people of Nigeria's Delta have been clamouring for some form of autonomy and recognition within the Nigerian State. The debates on the Niger Delta question are often clouded with the right of the people to self-determination or a minority group status and recently on some form of the control of the region's resources. However, since nation states serve as the principal actors in international decision making, the Nigerian state has over the years been unwilling to yield to the yearnings of the Niger Deltans. Looking closely at the Nigerian body politics reveals that it is dominated by ethnic considerations.

Moreover, since the state is basically indispensable, international law has a compelling interest in establishing and maintaining states. Therefore, despite the evidences that would have warranted international action, the Nigerian State continues to enjoy its sovereign privileges. At the ratification of the United Nations Charter in 1951, the signatories introduced the right of all people to self-determination into the framework of international law and diplomacy. Accordingly, the purpose of the self-determination clause was to allow former colonies that existed before World War II to have a say in their future. Article I of the Montivideo Convention of 1933 defines a state as possessing a permanent population; a defined territory; an effective government; with a capacity to enter into relations with other states. The recognition of a state can either be explicit or implicit, de jure or de facto. It is customary for one state to recognise another by means of an explicit formal declaration.

To a considerable extent, the Nigerian state has been reluctant, to say the least, to respond affirmatively to the minority claims of the Niger Delta people as that they qualify as "peoples" entitled to the right of self-determination which is solemnly prescribed in the United Nations Charter, and the ICCPR, and recently proclaimed as erga omnes obligation of all states under customary international law. The tenets of federalism require the Nigerian State to recognise the various governing sub-units with defined responsibilities but this has been a bone of contention over the years. To the Niger Delta people, internal self-determination would be what they want as political independence with a right to determine freely their form of government within the Nigerian state and their individual participation in the processes of power.

From the foregoing, it could be argued that as long as a prima facie case of the geographical and ethnical or cultural distinctness of a people is defined, other elements may be considered to grant the people a right to a form of self-government if they so desire.

Under Article 22 of The League of Nations, certain territories inhabited by "peoples not yet able to stand by themselves under the strenuous conditions of the modern world" were entrusted to certain states referred to as 'Mandatory Powers' for administration on behalf of the League. Be that as it may, there is no gainsaying in the fact that the granting of political independence on Niger Delta people poses very great challenges and will arouse critical issues in the sight of international law.

Unlike Kosovo which was originally part of Serbia and never existed as an independent state and had no formal political boundaries other than as an autonomous subdivision of Serbia, the Niger Delta communities were distinct groups before the British amalgamation of the Northern and Southern Protectorates in 1914. The doctrine of uti possidetis stresses nation-states to stay by the boundaries as defined by the colonising power. Also, in the UN Charter, self-determination extends into colonies. Consequently, this involves colonised and oppressed peoples or nations such as the minorities in the Niger Delta.

Furthermore, the principle of self-determination is a jus cogens, a peremptory norm in international law as provided in Article 53 of the Vienna Convention on the Law of Treaties. The state being the original actor at international law does not specifically grant component parts of its sovereignty the legal right to secede unilaterally from their parent state. This is also the case in Nigeria as was evident in the bloody Biafran Civil War that claimed almost two million lives. Given the lack of specific authorisation for unilateral secession, proponents of the existence of such a right at international law are therefore left to attempt to base their argument on the following grounds. Firstly, on the proposition that unilateral secession is not specifically prohibited and that what is not specifically prohibited is inferentially permitted. Secondly, on the implied duty of states to recognise the legitimacy of secession brought about by the exercise of the well-established international law of "a people" to self-determination. This normally could be war, which is discouraged internationally or by plebiscite.

In all, globally, the evolution of the right to self-determination, culminated in the adoption by the United Nations General Assembly in 1960, of the Declaration on the Granting of Independence to Colonial Countries and Peoples. The Declaration presents itself as an interpretation of the Charter and stresses independence within the colonial context, as the principal means through which self-determination is implemented.

Today, across the world, it holds that not only every group which considers itself a people has a right to self-determination, but such a right is also held by groups who consider themselves only a part of a people, such as the Aland Swedes or the Armenians of Nagorno Karabach or the Irish of Northern Ireland and claims for political sovereignty in Kosovo. As expected, some of these are still engulfed in political quagmires with manifestations for some historical ethnic grievances. The extent of the right at issue, and the groups entitled to claim them, remain matters of continuing uncertainty, rendering self-determination a highly indeterminate and variable principle.

Nonetheless, the exclusion of the people's right to self-determination would set the stage for its consideration as right of (all) colonial subjects. Be that as it may, as we shall see, this would eventually reveal the tension between the people's right to self-determination and state sovereignty, as well as minority rights protection and authoritarian state rule.

• Dr. Onduku is with St. Thomas University School of Law, Miami, Florida, United States.

Niger Delta: FG spent $2bn on arms – Atiku

Published: Wednesday, 31 Jan 2007 (PUNCH)

Vice-President Atiku Abubakar on Tuesday accused the Federal Government of allegedly approving $2bn to procure arms to curtail violence in the Niger Delta.

Abubakar made the allegation at the opening of his campaign headquarters in Abuja. He said that the weapons were bought to suppress the Niger Delta people instead of embarking on the development of the region. He said that Niger Delta was being degraded by oil exploitation and that the area deserved special attention. He added that if the $2bn had been used to develop the region, militants in the area would give up violence.

He said, “Just a few weeks ago, this government approved over $2bn to buy weapons, not to develop the Niger Delta, but to suppress the people of the region.

“If we channel this kind of amount into the development of the Niger Delta, nobody in the region will want to carry arms.

“Our people are not asking for too much. All they ask for are universally recognised human rights, the right to life, the right to good education, the right to freedom of expression, the right to jobs, the right to decent living, especially those whose environment is being ravaged by the exploitation of natural resources such as those in the Niger Delta.”

Abubakar, whose two-page address was spiced with extemporaneous remarks, also asked Nigerians not to vote for the presidential candidate of the Peoples Democratic Party, Alhaji Umaru Yar‘Adua.

He said that endorsement of Yar’Adua would amount to voting President Olusegun Obasanjo back to power.

The VP added, “We must work hard to ensure that elections do take place as scheduled. Let us also work with our people to ensure that they cast their votes and ensure that their votes count.

“We must stop in their tracks those who want to bring back the evil third term or life presidency through the back door.

“They have amended their party‘s constitution so that the President will be the life leader of the party and the life leader of the government. So, if you vote the PDP again, you are voting Obasanjo. Don‘t vote for him, don‘t vote PDP. Nigeria belongs to all of us.”

He described the opening of his campaign headquarters, which he called Democracy House, as ”a day for rejoicing and of giving thanks to God for the victories that we have won against those who choose to persecute me, my friends and associates.”

Apart from serving as a campaign headquarters, the vice-president said the complex would also be a centre of people’s struggle for democracy, rule of law, fairness and equity.

“It is the headquarters of our people‘s struggle against double standards, hypocrisy, and the impunity of those who play God,” Abubakar said.

He admitted that the battle had so far been tortuous and challenging.

Abubakar said his travails would not distract him from his mission of winning the April presidential election.

He said, “The struggle for democracy is usually a difficult one, but it is one that patriots must engage in if they hope to be free. To avoid the struggle for freedom for whatever reason is to run away from freedom. No human being and no nation must run away from freedom.

“The basic rights which we fought for over the years are seriously being eroded by those who think that holding on to power is their birthright.

“Nigerians are progressively being sidelined and neglected in the scheme of things. Their welfare has been forgotten.”

Also speaking at the ceremony, attended by hundreds of Abubakar‘s political associates and chieftains of the Action Congress, the AC National Chairman, Chief Bisi Akande, accused the Independent National Electoral Commission of plotting to collude with the PDP to rig the April elections.

The Lagos State Governor, Asiwaju Ahmed Tinubu, urged the National Assembly to amend the Electoral Act to enable INEC to use the modified open-secret system for the April elections. He said such arrangement would frustrate PDP’s bid to rig the poll.

When contacted for the reaction of the Presidency, the Special Assistant to the President on Public Affairs, Malam Uba Sani, told our correspondent to call back in 10 minutes.

”You must give me time to prepare my response,” he said on the telephone. But when further calls were put through to his line, the phone had been put off. A text message was also sent to his phone, to which no response was received.

In a statement last night, Sani, however, denied that President Olusegun Obasanjo was planning to declare a nationwide state of emergency. He responded to comments by the VP on Monday that the President might declare a state of emergency.

Abubakar made the allegation while receiving some editors from the United States. Sani, however, said the vice-president had only succeeded in displaying his ignorance of the 1999 Constitution. He said, the President could not single-handedly declare a state of emergency without the support of the National Assembly. He warned Abubakar and his supporters against any act that could lead to the declaration of emergency rule in the country.

”If they had such plans, let them be warned however that the full weight of the law will be brought to bear on anyone who plans to disrupt public order and public safety,” he said.

Sani said that despite Abubakar‘s attempt to paint a negative picture of the ongoing transition process, Obasanjo would hand over on May 29.

”He has already delivered valedictory addresses to the Economic Community of West African States and the African Union. This is certainly not the action of a president intent on remaining in office beyond his tenure.”


Niger Delta and the Nobel laureates

Problematising Self-Determination

Niger Delta: FG spent $2bn on arms – Atiku