All Niger Delta Peoples’ Congress: Another Nonsense…Another Charade

by Sabella Ogbobode Abidde

The Leadership Newspaper (10/01/2007) is reporting that Vice President Goodluck Jonathan, Senator Clinton, and others are “expected to participate at the All Niger Delta Peoples’ Congress scheduled for between October 17 and 20 this year to brainstorm over the problems confronting the region and assess their implications for global peace and security and for sustainable development in the region.”

The conference, according to its organizers, “is designed as an annual even to provide for indigenous people of the region the opportunity to articulate their common goals and aspirations and make the goals acceptable to all stakeholders.”

The intended conference is nothing but a travesty, a fraud, and a conduit pipe with which to engage in various forms of insidious and corrupt practices. What’s the aim and purpose of the conference? Whose interest is it going to serve? How much is it going top cost the government?

What are the attendees going to talk about that a slightly educated Niger Deltan doesn’t already know? The solutions do not lie in the heavens or in the nicely-worded statements of policy wonks crossing the Atlantic or the Pacific Ocean.

Why is the conference necessary especially considering the fact that (1) there have been nothing less than a dozen studies undertaken by the Nigerian government and its various agencies; and (2) consider also the fact that there are more than a dozen reports, findings and policy papers by the United Nation, the International Crisis Groups, The Chatham House, and others.

Moreover, there have been several findings and recommendations by the Nigerian National Assembly and related bodies in the last three decades. And in fact, the Nigerian Senate recently constituted a body to investigate and make recommendations vis-à-vis the region and the crisis.

Adding to the aforementioned are dozens and dozens of reports by various Nigerian institutions. Last but not least are the various rendezvous between the government and various socio-political groups in the region. In all, there are well over one hundred official and semi-official reports (investigations, recommendations, white papers, etc, etc) on the Niger Delta and its associated problems.

In the midst of all the confusions, wastes, indifference and lies, comes another seminar. In the midst of all the deceit, delays and divide-and-rule tactics comes another wasteful endeavor. In the midst of all the half-hearted attempts and cardinal sins comes another perfidious jamboree.

What Mr. Alaboso Joejim and his posse are planning is nothing short of a resource-draining exercise. It has no value, no significance, and no meaningful purpose — only meant to tax the people and the government. At the end of the gathering, what benefit will accrue to the people and to the state? As usual only the organizers and the attendees will reap the anticipated financial and political benefits.

How will a conference, estimated to cost $8.5 million benefit the Itsekiri, the Ogoni, the Ijaw, the Isoko and various other nationalities of the Niger Delta? How will this jamboree benefit the Nigerian government and the various federating state? How will the seminar bring about peace, growth and development to a region facing four decades of ecological ruins and developmental damnation?

How sad it is to know that Vice President Goodluck Jonathan is part of this duplicitous carnival. To think that a man who has spent close to fifty years in the Niger Delta does not understand the pains, the problems and the grievances of the Niger Delta? But really, what manner of a man will not understand the problems of his own region and country?

What has happened to Goodluck Jonathan? What is happening to him? Come conference day, he will show up with a prepared text — a text he’ll know nothing about. Not too long ago, it was President Yar’Adua talking about bring in some experts from MIT, Harvard and other think tanks to solve the Niger Delta crisis. It was an endeavor that was going to cost the nation more than $15,000,000.00 in fees and other remunerations.

The problems of the Niger are the problems of Nigeria. And only Nigerians can solve their own problems. Bringing in Mrs. Clinton, Senators Barrack Obama, Russ Feingold, Joseph Biden, Richard Lugar and a dozen other Americans, Germans or Canadians will not solve a distinctively Nigerian problem. Assuming they all show up, it’s all going to be for show, a masquerade dance.

As stated in a previous essay, the Niger Delta crisis is not that complex a problem to solve. Looked at from a clear and honest prism, the Niger Delta is not a solution-defying region. The difficulty has been that the government, the oil companies and others, have never truly committed themselves to solving the problems. It’s been one lie after another, one political game after another.

Included in this bowl of dishonesty and indifference are some Niger Delta indigenes who profit from the anarchy and exploitation. The current crops of “Tasmanian Devil” are no exceptions. And so what we have now — all we have in the so-called All Niger Delta Peoples’ Congress — is a band of likeminded individuals ready and willing to confuse, exploit and bamboozle their nation and their state. Sadly, we have a Vice President and a government ready to play along.

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