Below is a copy of a petition sent a month ago to US President George W Bush by the National Union of Ogoni Students (NUOS INTL.) USA.
We have a copy of the signed letter.
For more information about the Ogoni people go to:
NATIONAL UNION OF OGONI STUDENTS (NUOS INTL.), USA
2517 W. DEVON AVE. STE. 5
CHICAGO, ILLINOIS 60659
www.nuos-ogoni.org – [email protected] – 773.250.7004
July 21, 2006
The President of the United States of America
The White House
1600 Pennsylvania Avenue NW
Washington, D.C 20500
His Excellency President G.W. Bush:
SAVE OGONI FROM NIGERIA GOVERNMENT AND SHELL OIL AGGRESSION
On behalf of the Ogoni people of the Niger Delta region of Nigeria, we the Ogoni students in the United States write to first, thank you and your administration for the genuine concern you have shown towards the development and stability of the African continent. At the same time we call on you and your administration to urgently intervene in the conflict in the Niger Delta region of Nigeria.
We are compelled to send you this appeal because of the persistent strife, conflict, poverty and exploitation of our people by successive governments of Nigeria in collaboration with Shell Oil. Also, this appeal becomes necessary because Ogoni people are consistently denied their conceptual and legal rights and more so, insecurity from the multinational oil firms and Nigerian government has formed a psychological cloud around them.
The Niger Delta region has seen so many crises because Nigeria has refused to address minority grievances since independent. From genesis to date, Nigeria has evaded to accord equal status to the Ogoni people. Nigerian government treats Ogoni people like subjects, not citizens. An analysis is important here. Shell Oil started oil operation in Ogoni in 1958. The first sign of the current conflict started in 1970 when the Ogoni people through their chiefs petitioned against the reckless methods of operations by Shell Oil and British Petroleum (BP). Part of their petition read, “Our rivers, rivulets and creeks are all covered with crude oil…, we no longer breathe the natural oxygen, rather we inhale lethal and ghastly gases. We no longer use vegetables, they are all polluted.” Instead of Nigeria to address this grievance, she enacted legislation – Petroleum Act and Land Use Act (1978). These legislations deprive States, groups and citizens from having access to their resources. The federal government thereafter appropriated revenues to the constituent units solely at their discretion. This started the agitation for true federalism by Ogoni and other Niger Delta people to this day. Government in alliance with Shell Oil instead of fixing the structural and environmental problems in the country has resorted to manipulations, bribery and killings. Then in 1990 Ogoni people presented the Ogoni Bills of Rights to the Government of Nigeria but were ignored.
Another of such grievance is that, the government of Nigeria and its leadership continually works for the multinational oil corporations without recourse to the ordinary citizenry. For instance, Ogoni has over one hundred Oil wells and nine flow stations – Bomu, Bodo West, Tai, Korokoro, Yorla, Lubara Creek, and Afam etc. She has contributed over US$30 billion to the Nigerian treasury from 1958 to date. From 1970-2006, she has suffered over 3000 oil spills some of which have not been cleansed as stipulated by regulations. Also, Ogoni continue to suffer from carbon-dioxide and methane emissions. The people continue to suffer health hazards such as cancer, severe coronary heart/cardiovascular diseases, defective birth, and others. In all of these, Ogoni lacks basic necessities – such as: pipe-borne water, electricity, access roads, functional schools and healthcare systems.
Ogoni did call on Shell oil and other oil firms operating in the area to conduct Environmental and Social Impact Assessment Studies but they refused. The Nigerian government remains silent on this. We view this as evil and racism against Ogoni and the minorities of the Niger Delta. We use this opportunity to inform you that the supply of ammunition and military hardware and training to Nigerian military by western nations including the United States all help in killing innocent Ogoni citizens.
In protesting the above standard of conspiracy and corruption in the Niger Delta including Ogoni, Shell Oil was declared Persona non grata in Ogoniland on January 4, 1993 in a match which over 300,000 people took part. Since then, Shell Oil has appeared in court and before the Truth and Reconciliation Commission against Ogoni. She has now indulged in bribery and racketeering (both Politicians and government officials) to pave way for her return. This is against her earlier stance that she is “unwilling to return to Ogoni unless invited by the host community.” The situation is a clear testimony of how Nigeria and Shell Oil want to by-pass genuine negotiations and resume oil exploration in Ogoni. We are concerned because it would bring another round of bloodbath in the area. The truth is that, the Ogoni people although, not against reconciliation/negotiation, do not want Shell Oil any longer on their land after over 4000 Ogonis were killed, their leaders falsely accused and hanged by Shell Oil and the Nigeria State .The company do not have any respect for human lives and rights, the environment and laws.
Sir, this petition is a declaration of the position of the Ogoni people of the Niger Delta. Some of the fact on Shell Oil in Ogoni include: The murder of Ogoni leaders including Ken Saro Wiwa; supply of ammunitions and helicopters to the Nigeria government within 1993-96 with which the military grounded some of our villages which resulted in refugee crises. Within said period, many of our people were arrested and dumped in jail for months without trial. Others were tortured, maimed and killed, while our women were raped. Also, some were internally displaced whilst others were driven into exile in Benin Republic and remain refugees to date. We call on your administration to intervene in their resettlement.
As a panacea to resolving the conflict, Ogoni people demand as follows:
1. Addressing the legitimate demands of the Ogoni people as contained in the
Ogoni Bills of Rights (OBR),
2. An Ogoni State,
3. The United States should prevail on the Federal Government of Nigeria and
Rivers State Government to enforce the resolution of the Rivers State House
of Assembly during its Thirty- Four Legislative Session, Tuesday, April 06,
1993; which resolved among others that the Nigerian National Petroleum
Corporation (NNPC), Chevron Nigeria Limited (CML) and Shell Petroleum
Development Company (SPDC) pay a total of 22 billion Pounds Sterling to
the Ogoni People as compensation for ruining the Ogoni environment and the
health of the Ogoni People,
4. Exoneration of Ken Saro Wiwa and eight others of trumped-up charges,
5. Abrogation of obnoxious Land Use decree Act of 1978,
6. Implementation of the 1996 United Nations Fact Finding Mission’s
recommendations on Ogoni,
7. Ogoni continues to stand by these and other demands.
Finally, His Excellency, the importance of the Niger Delta region to the economy of Nigeria and the entire world cannot be overemphasized, hence the need for its continued stability. It is unfortunate that a region that has contributed so much to the economy of the Nigeria nation has yet to see any development. It is also unfortunate that Nigeria and Shell Oil continue to evade environmental problems although the ecosystem in that region is near destruction. We therefore, urge you and your administration to prevail on the government of Nigeria to immediately open up negotiation with Ogoni people based on their genuine demands contained in the Ogoni Bills of Rights (OBR). We also urge you to advised President Obasanjo and Shell Oil to stop further attempts to go around Ogoni demands to start oil activity in Ogoni with the use of force because such move is inimical to peace.
Thank you for your service to humanity.
(For: NUOS INTL, USA)
KorneBari Nwike (President)
Mrs. Blessing Wifa (Vice President)
Austin Lemea (Secretary)
Dum –Ale Tanee (Public Relations Officer)
Cc: US Senators
US House of Representatives
US House Committee on Foreign