Govt to double crude oil supply to
Ijaw youths give Shell 7 days to shut flow
Shell’s activities in the Niger Delta as reminiscent of the “apartheid framework.”
Obasanjo’s Last Chance to Save Nigeria
|Posted Saturday, June 19, 2004
Warlord Says Vote Fraud Fuels Conflict
OLD CALABAR RIVER, Nigeria
A Nigerian warlord said on Saturday he took up arms to fight for
control of the Niger delta's oil wealth because the government had thwarted
peaceful change by stealing elections.
Flanked by militia wearing charms and holding Kalashnikov assault rifles
in a fishing camp close to the oil city Port Harcourt, Mujahid Dokubo-Asari said
his group now controls three local councils in Rivers state, one of the main
oil-producing states of southern Nigeria.
Nigeria is Africa's most populous country and its leading oil
producer but its resource wealth has fueled political division, violence and
Asari, who recently stepped down as president of the
ethno-political group the Ijaw Youth Council, has been declared a wanted man by
the state for alleged "cult" activities, a local term for gangsterism.
But he says the government is trying to discredit the delta
people's fight for a fair share of the region's huge oil wealth.
"I believe that the only path to self determination and resource
control is the path followed by people in South Africa, in Chechnya, in Kosovo
-- the path of armed struggle," he said in an interview with Reuters in a
tin-roofed shack hidden in the mangrove forest.
Asari, who is based in the eastern side of the Delta's vast
region of swamps and river channels, said he uses oil siphoned from pipelines to
finance a huge arsenal, including rocket-propelled grenades, machine guns and
"hundreds" of Kalashnikovs, and an army of 2,000 men.
"We will take our oil and whatever resources are available to us
to sustain our struggle and we have no apology to anybody. We are not stealing
it, it belongs to us. People are stealing our resources."
Asari, once a leading public figure in the Ijaw activist scene,
said he was driven underground soon after the Ijaw Youth Council publicly
rejected the April 2003 election result, which gave President Olusegun Obasanjo
a second term and his PDP party a huge majority in Rivers state.
"Our people were disenfranchised. They were not allowed to
vote," he said.
The State Department said the elections were "marred by serious
irregularities and fraud."
Since the poll, Asari says he has been attacked several times by
paramilitary groups supported by the government. State information commissioner
Magnus Ngei Abe denied the state government gave any support to militia.
Then in early June, hundreds of army, air force and navy
descended on Asari's stronghold at Buguma, near Port Harcourt, where about 20
"The government is sponsoring a counter-revolutionary group to
thwart the efforts of the popular movement," Asari said.
Asari is one of a long line of self-styled freedom fighters in
the Niger delta, who have tapped popular discontent with the government's
failure to provide basic services and relieve poverty despite the region's huge
Last year, thousands of Ijaw militants staged an uprising in the
western part of the delta around the city of Warri in an attempt to win more
political and economic power.
The fighting briefly forced oil companies to shut about 40
percent of the OPEC nation's oil output, until it was crushed by the deployment
of about 5,000 troops who remain there today.
Asari said the electoral fraud and militarisation of the delta
showed that the path of negotiation, pursued by many other Ijaw activists, had
"It is only violence that brings tyrants to their senses because
tyrants survive by violence."
Oronto Douglas, a leading Ijaw activist and human rights lawyer,
said the rise of Asari was an indictment of government's policy toward the
impoverished delta region.
"The rise of Asari is a clear manifestation of the government's
refusal to adopt a dialogue of reason and respond to the needs of the local
people," he said.
"But whether the mass of the people support Asari's decision to
take up arms remains to be seen."
Oil companies blame criminal gangs for stealing between 50,000
and 100,000 barrels per day from the maze of pipelines criss-crossing the
delta's mangrove swamps.
Asari said he was against taking oil workers hostage, but
supported the closure of oil production in the delta.
The state government said Asari's political rhetoric was just a
cover for a criminal engaged in turf wars over lucrative river routes used by
oil smugglers to export stolen crude.
Asari says his army, known as the Niger Delta People's Volunteer
Force, is clearly distinguished from criminal gangs.
Like many Niger delta activists before him, Asari questions the
legality of the Nigerian state and wants a referendum of Niger delta people to
decide it they want to opt out of the federation.
© 2004 Reuters
give Shell 7 days to shut flow station
By Emma Amaize
Vanguard Wednesday, December 01,
WARRI — IJAW youths, yesterday, gave the
Shell Petroleum Development Company (SPDC) a seven-day ultimatum to shut down
its Beniseide flow station at Ojobo community in Burutu Local Government Area of
Delta State and evacuate all its staff or face a massive reprisal
The order is against the spirit of the
truce reached, last Wednesday, in Warri by representatives of the community and
the SPDC at a peace meeting, brokered by the Delta State Government.
Tension had mounted in the community over
the shooting of about 21 youths who were protesting an alleged marginalisation
of the community in terms of contracts and employment by soldiers who were
guarding the flow station about a fortnight ago.
The state government waded into the
matter but while blaming the SPDC for breaking the terms of its Memorandum of
Understanding with the community, it enjoined the community to create an
enabling environment for the company to operate and provide jobs for
But the Ijaw Youths Collegiate Leadership
in a statement, jointly signed by Messrs. Ebi Moni, Kennedy Orubebe and six
others, said that the shooting of the youths was premeditated as the "youths
notified the head of security to the flowstation, one Lieutenant Ibrahim of the
Nigerian Army of their mission before they proceeded as well as the Ojobo
They said that while the youths were
waiting to be addressed on their request by the company personnel, Lt. Ibrahim
whom they notified of their mission emerged from nowhere with a handful of other
soldiers and opened fire on the youths, adding that a similar incident occurred
early this year at the Opukushi flowstation, where security agents opened fire
on youths who went to protest the company’s failure to keep to its side of the
According to the group, "all embassies
and diplomatic missions whose nationals are retained in Rig 75 in Beniseide
flowstation should recall their staff." The Ijaw youths also banned the
contracting firm handling the operation for the SPDC, Parker Drilling a persona
non grata in all Ijaw communities.
begins probe of Shell over refusal to pay $1.5b compensation to
Culled from Daily Independent Dec. 2,
By Adetutu Folasade-Koyi and Paul Mumeh,
The battle line has been drawn
between the Senate and Shell Petroleum Development Company of Nigeria Limited
(SPDC) over its outright rejection of the National Assembly’s directive to pay
$1.5 billion to Ijaw Aborigines.
The Senate described Shell’s
activities in the Niger Delta as reminiscent of the “apartheid framework.”
Irked that the SPDC’s rejection
of its resolutions in favour of the Ijaw Aborigines, the Senate said that since
it is in possession of incontrovertible evidence implicating Shell in the Niger
Delta, it would go ahead to conduct a full-scale investigation.
Specifically, Senator John Kojo
Brambaifa, Chairman, Committee on Niger Delta, disclosed that Shell’s activities
constitutes a breach of the peace in the region, adding that its activities
affects the livelihood of the people of the Niger Delta and the economy of
Nigeria. The report, he said, would be “presented to the Senate for formal
sanction for disobeying its resolution within the next few weeks.”
But the SPDC rejected the
resolution on the basis that it did not follow the due process of the law.
On August 24, 2004, based on a
petition by the Ijaw Aborigines of Bayelsa State against the SPDC, and upon a
resolution of the National Assembly, Senate President Adolphus Wabara and
Speaker Aminu Masari directed the SPDC to pay $1.5 billion as compensation on
oil spillages and pollution.
Rather than comply, on November
11, 2004, Mr Basil Omiyi, Managing Director and Chief Executive Officer of SPDC,
in his capacity as Operator of the NNPC/Shell/Agip/Elf Joint Venture replied
Chairmen of the Senate Committees on Niger Delta and Petroleum Resources
(Upstream) that they have come to “a firm conclusion that the recommendations
are totally unacceptable to SPDC and its JV partners.”
Omiyi stated in his letter that
due process was not followed “as the panel did not give the SPDC an opportunity
to be heard before arriving at its conclusions and recommendations. In
consequence, SPDC is unable to accept a legislative resolution that is based on
such a fundamentally flawed premise.”
An elaborate letter from SPDC’s
legal counsel, O. C. J. Okocha (SAN), Managing Counsel in Okocha and Okocha
Limited, which was addressed to Wabara and Masari followed on November 15.
Okocha dismissed the petitioner as “an unknown organisation,” stating
categorically, “they have found no legitimate basis whatsoever for the
resolutions passed by the House of Representatives and the Senate.”
He also reiterated that the
resolution passed by the National Assembly was “contrary to the due process of
law as enunciated in the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, 1999.
They are accordingly null and void and of no legal effect whatsoever. We
reiterate that our clients say that they cannot accept or comply with the said
resolutions. For the avoidance of doubt, we state that our clients have rejected
the said Resolutions in their entirety, and so have they also rejected the
demand contained in your letter under reference for their compliance with the
Addressing a joint press
conference on Wednesday, Brambaifa, who is also Chairman of the Ad-hoc Senate
Compliance Committee, in company of Senators James Manager and Inatimi Spiff
described Shell’s rejection of its resolution as ‘arrogant’ and ‘provocative.’
He assured that the Niger Delta
committee’s “investigation will be precise, thorough and pungent. In this
regard, the committee will take a closer look at the circumstances that has led
to the continuous closure of oil wells from Ogoniland, which has deprived the
country from earning income for some decades. Also important in this exercise is
the level of environmental degradation and pollution that have impacted on the
lives of the people of the Niger Delta.
“The committee will not hesitate
to use its diplomatic channels to ensure that any member of Shell’s
international board who participated in the crimes perpetrated by Shell in the
Niger Delta in the last six decades will be identified, exposed and brought to
|Govt to double crude oil supply
Guardian Newspapers Dec 6,
From Madu Onuorah, (Washington D.C., U.S.A.)
FROM its current moderate level of seven per cent, Nigeria has announced an
ambitious plan to raise its crude oil supplies to the United States (U.S.) to 15
per cent in the next few years. Nigeria is currently the fifth largest oil
exporter to the U.S.
A U.S.-based international oil giant, Chevron-Texaco Overseas Petroleum has
also announced plans to invest over $20 billion in the exploration and
exploitation of oil and gas in Africa, especially in Nigeria and Gulf of Guinea.
President Olusegun Obasanjo made the disclosure at an evening in celebration
of the working relationship between the New Partnership for Africa's Development
(NEPAD), and the Leon Sullivan Foundation, in Washington DC, U.S.A. at the
Towards this, according to the president, Nigeria aims to move from the
present output of 2.5 million barrels per day (bpd) to four million bpd.
The Nigerian leader was honoured by the Sullivan Foundation for his
"commitment to transparency, peacekeeping in Africa, (being the) architect of
NEPAD and as spokesman for Africa."
He also told the cream of the
African-American elite that the world should focus on issues of development in
Africa, especially the Gulf of Guinea, because whatever happens in the region
would automatically affect the world and the price of oil.
Also at the forum
were the World Bank President, Mr. James Wolfensohn, and former Prime Minister
of Canada, Mr. Joe Clark.
Obasanjo said that there is a lot to explore and exploit in Africa. Inviting
international businessmen, especially Africans in Diaspora, to come and invest
in Nigeria. "The development of Africa will impact on the development of the
world. If all is well with Africa, it will impact on the development of America,
Europe and Asia."
He continued: "There is a lot to explore and exploit about
and in Africa. Where there is mutual advantage between those of us who are there
in Africa and those of you who are here (in U.S.) to exploit, please exploit it,
to our mutual advantage."
Obasanjo spoke further: "We are tackling the issues
of security, stability and availability of supply of oil from the whole belt of
Gulf of Guinea. I want us to provide 15 per cent of U.S. oil needs. We want to
move from the present production of 2.5 million bpd to four million
Explaining the economic importance of the area, he said: "What we
are trying to do in the Gulf of Guinea, which contains substantial amount of
hydro-carbon, is important to the world. Whatever happens to the development of
oil industry in Nigeria, not to talk of the Gulf of Guinea, is very important to
the world. That is why through NEPAD, we are insisting that our development must
be built on the pillars of peace, security, democracy and good governance. And
if we have the four pillars working, your (U.S.) oil requirements is fully
For the U.S., the focus on the Gulf of Guinea for its oil needs is strategic,
as there remain uncertainties in Saudi Arabia and Venezuela, which currently
supply the U.S. with 17.8 per cent and 12.8 per cent of its oil needs.
The Gulf of Guinea currently holds about 10 per cent of the world's known oil
reserves and is largely unexplored.
The President of Chevron-Texaco Overseas Petroleum, Mr. George Kirkland, said
his company's $20 billion investment is aimed at showing the company's faith and
stake in Africa's future.
Kirkland said that the push to invest in Nigeria would invariably impact on
the rest of Africa. He said that with the policies being implemented, "Nigeria
is an example of transparency and good governance in Africa. And your country
(Nigeria) would continue to be a unifying factor in Africa. We are entering the
new century and Africa needs to play a role. Africa's potential is too great not
to play a role."
He continued: "What is needed is patience, persistence
and perseverance. So, we need to encourage signs of growth, especially the
success in African private-public sector partnership."
continued: "We also note the constructive role energy can play in expanding
Africa's growth and economic development. In that direction, we are to invest
over $20 billion in Africa's growth in the next five years. We have faith in
Africa's future. We all have a stake in its brighter future. And we must
redouble our efforts to realise this future."
Chairman of the Leon Sullivan
Foundation and former U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations, Andrew Young, asked
all citizens of African descent to travel at least twice a year to the continent
to contribute to its growth. Small businesses, he said, could grow out of their
visits as new businesses catering to the needs of tourists could blossom from
According to him, "what we need to remind ourselves of is that Africa, as a
partner in global economic development is an important strategic partner. And
from the efforts of African leaders including the NEPAD initiative, Africa is
ready to take its place in the global economy that includes all of God's
Obasanjo, who is the first African leader to meet with President George W.
Bush since his re-election last month, also met the out-going U.S. Secretary of
State, Colin Powel, the Congressional Black Caucus (black members of the U.S.
Congress) and the U.S. Trade Representative, Ambassador Robert Zoellick.
© 2003 - 2004 @ Guardian Newspapers
Obasanjo’s Last Chance to Save
When in November 1884 European leaders, notably, from Great Britain, France,
Germany, Belgium, Portugal and Spain gathered in Berlin to divide up Africa
among themselves, stability or even survival of the countries being so created
was not on the top of the agenda. Their primary concern, according to the
History books, was to minimize competition among their surrogates and avoid an
impending war over the control of Africa’s natural resources. It was an exercise
in geometric acrobatics conducted with utter disregard for the ethnic, cultural
and linguistic affinity of the African peoples. The resultant effect is what
exists today: Africa’s ancient kingdoms, indigenous tribes and communities
spread over several countries thereby exacerbating the task of forging viable
modern nations. The partitioning of Africa at the Berlin conference has had the
second most devastating impact on Africa’s development after Slavery.
In no African country are the challenges of nation building more real and
magnified than Nigeria. With a mix of 250 ethnic groups, over 400 languages,
multiple religions that include the two most antagonistic, and a growing
population of 120 million, the country, arguably, is the most complex political
entity on the face of the Earth. Not surprisingly, it has struggled every inch
of the way toward nationhood. The obstacles seem insurmountable. Yet, Nigeria’s
leaders continue in the uphill struggle to build one nation for reasons that are
best known to them.
Of the myriad challenges that face Nigeria, the two most daunting are the
age-long problem of protection for minority rights and, since the 1970s, a
burgeoning corruption. These two problems have very serious ramifications
throughout society and either one of them has the potential to terminate the
existence of the country as we know it. The combination of the two ominously
leads to one certainty, sooner rather than later.
Enter Chief Olusegun Obasanjo. The man has been abundantly blessed by the
Almighty. God has granted him many more challenges and opportunities than most
men. He himself has acknowledged that much on several occasions. That is not to
say that he has no innate abilities. Chief Olusegun Obansanjo is an intelligent,
brave, deliberate and reputedly foxy man. He was the man that received the
instrument of surrender from the secessionist Republic of Biafra in January
1970. He was the man that reluctantly took over the reigns of power at Nigeria’s
dark hour in February 1976 after the assassination of General Murtala Mohammed.
In 1998, he was rescued from Yola prison to become president within a few short
months. By the time he leaves office in 2007, Obasanjo would have ruled Nigeria
for a total of eleven and a half years, longer than any other Nigerian. He is,
in my book, the most influential leader in Nigeria’s forty- four years as a
nation, more so than even the independence leaders.
Who, then, is more qualified to save Nigeria from an imminent
As a former Co-chairman of the anti-corruption organization Transparency
International, the president had made the fight against corruption one of the
central goals of his first term in office as he so eloquently stated in his
inaugural speech. Granted that he has since pushed the National Assembly to pass
the Corrupt Practices and other Related Offences Act and instituted several
anti-corruption agencies, including the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission
(EFCC) and the Independent Corrupt Practices Commission (ICPC), the reality is
that the fight against corruption is yet to yield any appreciable result. While
there have been snippets of success, corruption is still a way of life for too
many Nigerians, particularly, high government officials and political leaders.
The Nigeria Police is still very much the most corrupt and inept police
organizations in the world. We may not like what the world is telling us about
ourselves, but it happens to be true that Nigeria is one of the most corrupt
nations on Earth.
Clearly, combating the pandemic of corruption requires much more than
institutional and legal tools. There needs to be a concurrent effort at social
re-engineering geared toward re-orientating the public psyche to reject
corruption in all of its forms. Such an effort, unlike previous ones, must start
from the top. The president must be seen to be personally involved in the fight.
He and his top government functionaries as well as National Assembly members
must publicly wear a badge of honor that declares “I have won a battle against
corruption today”. Otherwise, it would be useless preaching to the masses when
the leaders are seen or perceived to be getting away with murder. Surely, the
president understands that the fight against corruption is not an easy one but
has to be won if Nigeria is to survive.
Being one of the most pluralistic and diverse countries in the world, Nigeria
must seriously address the problem of ethnic and religious minority rights. More
so, in view of the historical fact that it is a country of several nations and
kingdoms clobbered together by Imperial fiat.
Whereas freedom of religion is guaranteed in the constitution, governments
and civil society must put in place institutions and measures that protect and
safeguard that freedom. The rights of Christians in the predominantly Muslim
north must be equally protected as the rights of Moslems in the predominantly
Christian south. Shari’a laws being adopted or practiced in some states can not
be allowed to apply to non-Moslems or Moslems that do not subscribe to them.
Since the Obasanjo government came into power in May 1999, there have been an
estimated 15,000 to 20,000 killings resulting from ethnic, religious or
political crises. Several prominent politicians have been gunned down and the
Nigeria Police has been demonstrably ineffectual in bringing their killers to
justice. This is indicative of an unacceptably high level of violence in the
society. Government can not continue to simply react to civil disturbances; a
situation that has been described by some as the fire brigade approach. It must
have measures in place to prevent such disturbances from occurring in the first
place. The primary duty of government is to protect the lives and property of
its citizens. No government that fails in that duty deserves to exist.
The lack of protection for ethnic minority rights poses the greatest danger
to the corporate existence of Nigeria. This has been a major issue long before
the country gained political independence from Britain. Attempts to address it
either through the creation of Special Areas as recommended by the Willink’s
commission of 1958 or the creation of states starting from 1967 by the General
Yakubu Gowon government have failed woefully. In the former case principally
because of the desire to dominate by the majority tribes in the regional
governments and in the later case because of the further concentration of
economic and political power in the central government.
Over the years, the Middle Belt and the Niger Delta have been the flash
points for agitation for the rights of ethnic minorities as exemplified by the
Tiv riots of 1962-1965 and the rebellion of Isaac Adaka Boro and his Niger Delta
Volunteer Force in 1965. The last two major failed military coups – Dimka’s in
1976 and Orka’s in 1990 - followed the same pattern for the same reasons.
It must be obvious to all by now that it has become untenable for the country
to hold its balance any longer on the Hausa/Fulani, Yoruba and Ibo hegemonic
tripod. Democracy is not just about the rule of the majority; it is even more
about the protection of minority rights within that majority rule. Today, the
pseudo-federal state of Nigeria is at crossroads.
The peoples of the Niger Delta continue to bear the full brunt of Nigeria’s
lopsided federalism. Historically, this area had consisted of several
independent city states and communities before British colonization. Their
agitation for a separate country or region or state at the constitutional
conferences led to the setting up of the Henry Willink commission in 1958 by the
colonial government. In spite of British grand designs and economic interest,
the commission recognized the peculiarity of the region and recommended
specially focused developmental efforts there by both the Eastern Regional and
Federal governments. That recommendation was never taken seriously. Instead, at
the time of great national crises, the General Gowon government exploited the
same recommendation as the basis for breaking up the Eastern Region into three
The discovery, exploration and exploitation of crude oil in the Niger Delta
have greatly exacerbated the situation in the region. The activities of
multinational oil companies have so polluted the water and land that the people
can no longer engage in their traditional occupation of fishing and farming.
There has been a countless number of oil spills amounting to millions of barrels
and in many cases no attempts are made to clean up the spills. The
unconscionable flaring of hydrocarbons over a period of forty years has so
polluted the air that a vast number of children suffer from asthma and other
air-borne diseases. An equally vast number of adults suffer from cataract and
other eye diseases. After 40 years of oil exploration, not a single
environmental remediation or restoration project has been established; not a
single health project has been initiated to study the effects on the
Meanwhile, a conservative estimate puts the money Nigeria has earned from
crude oil at more than 500 billion US dollars and over $120 billion in the last
five years alone. Of this amount, not even $1 billion has been spent on
infrastructural development in the region. The communities in the creeks and
swamps of the Niger Delta are still as isolated as they were fifty years ago.
There is no electricity or safe drinking water for 95 per cent of the
population. There are no health clinics for the sick or employment for the
youth. Foreign oil companies executives and employees live in enclaves where
they enjoy all the modern amenities of Western Europe and America.
According to recent news reports, President Obasanjo was not happy when told
by his own commission, the NDDC, that the poverty level in the Niger Delta has
increased to 70 per cent. The president’s argument seems to be that the source
of the statistic, the African Development Bank, had put the poverty level for
the country at 42 per cent in 1992 and nothing tragic has happened since then to
warrant the increase to 70 per cent. What the president has refused to accept is
the growing disparity in poverty level between the Niger Delta and the rest of
the country. Indeed, there is abject poverty in the Niger Delta. It is very
unfortunate that the president ordered the NDDC to remove from its report the
figure that was based on a study of the situation on the ground.
Now, when you put together the monumental environmental degradation and the
glaring fact that the people have not benefited economically from the
exploitation of crude oil from their land you might just begin to understand the
despair and desperation in the Niger Delta. The people, by many measures, are
living under some sort of internal colonization.
The prevailing conditions in the Niger Delta have inevitably led to a very
precarious security situation for Nigeria. Anyone who sees it differently, is
either dumb or in denial. There is a simmering mass rebellion. The intensity of
the feeling of neglect and injustice is comparable to that felt by the Igbo
after the massacres of 1966. The possibility of a determined and calculating
individual exploiting this mass feeling of hurt to launch the region into a full
scale war with Nigeria is very real. Alhaji Asari Dokubo may not be that leader
but his emergence has clearly demonstrated the perniciousness of the
But Nigeria must stop the situation from deteriorating any further. What we
have in the Niger Delta is a national crisis and must be addressed as such. The
political stakes are too high for the country to continue business as usual. If
a war breaks out, the outcome will be totally unpredictable. Not for the reason
that the region can withstand the Federal military might. But for the simple
reason that a war over the control of oil and gas resources of the Niger Delta
would be of great interest to both friends and foes of Nigeria around the
As one of the principal actors in the last war, I pray that the president
will do everything in his power to prevent another war in Nigeria. He can begin
to move in that direction by talking to all stake holders in the Niger Delta
region. Nothing can be off the table, including a national conference, resource
control or even sovereignty for the region. The president must not elevate the
task of “keeping Nigeria one” over and above his godly duty to serve the cause
of justice. For in the end Nigeria shall break up if this large-scale injustice
Here, then, is Chief Olusegun Obasanjo’s last chance to save Nigeria
Sepribo Lawson-Jack, Texas - USA