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Nigeria: Niger Delta Leaders Dismiss Planned Summit

Nigeria: Niger Delta Leaders Dismiss Planned Summit

Emma Amaize

NIGER Delta leaders have dismissed the proposed summit on the region by the Federal Government, describing it as a jamboree.

They also warned President Umaru Yar’Adua about the imminent collapse of his administration’s peace programme on the Niger Delta if urgent steps were not taken to check the activities of the oil companies in the region, whose recruitment policies, they said, were discriminatory against the people of the region.

But Ijaw leader, Chief Edwin Clark, at a press conference also attended by Itsekiri leader, Chief Hope Harriman; Prof. John Pepper Clark; and secretary of the Delta Elders, Leaders and Stakeholders’ Forum, Dr. Mike Oberabor, asked the oil companies to halt their biased policies against Niger Delta or they would face distasteful consequences.

His words: “What summit are you going to have? The summit, which they are talking about, how would it operate? Yar’Adua’s government is saying that they are going to develop the Niger Delta physically after the summit.

We do not even know what type of summit they want to hold. Is it a summit of Nigeria or the people of the Niger Delta with Ambassador Ibrahim Gambari as its chairman? So, what are they looking for? Obasanjo started this type of jamboree, two years ago and I said no, we are not going to attend this type of jamboree, which has been taking place all over.

“What we want is Marshall type development after the Second World war when the Americans and the Europeans decided to develop Germany and other destroyed countries. It is not a question of talking, talking, holding press conferences.

How many summits were held before Abuja was developed? The Federal Government is not showing enough interest in the development of the Niger Delta. As far as we are concerned, Federal Government cannot bring peace to the Niger Delta unless they check the excesses of the oil companies.

We are asking the President to visit the area to see things for himself, how the people sit on water and they have no water to drink; no electricity; no schools. Our children are still sitting on the floor.

“The Federal Government should now institute an inquiry into the activities of the oil companies to find out how many people of the Niger Delta are employed in these oil companies and those who have been employed outside the Niger Delta.

Today, you have soldiers taking over the jobs of our people. Our people used to be petty contractors, today they have been given to soldiers by the oil companies even at a higher price. We are suffering. I think, you are seeing what Shell is doing?

They said Mr. Basil Omiyi was their Managing Director, everybody was happy that a Nigerian has now been appointed a Managing Director, where is Omiyi today? They call him Country Chairman in Abuja.

He is the public relations man. When a white man comes from Shell, if they want to take them round to ministries and so on, he is the one to do that. What type of treatment is that? Can you do that to a Yoruba man? Can you do that to a Hausa man or Igbo man?

“What we are saying is that unless the Federal Government does something positively, the programme of Yar’Adua will not succeed in the Niger Delta and the peace in the Niger Delta will be far away from being achieved,” he said.

He said in the name of re-organisation, the SPDC now decided to reduce the number of staff by 2,000 and of this 2,000, more than 80 per cent of them are from the Niger Delta, particularly those called contract staff.

“A situation where you have two graduates from the University of Ibadan or from University of Lagos with Engineering degree, Second Class Upper, Second Class Upper, the man from Niger Delta is a contract staff while the other one from any part of Nigeria is a direct staff.

The man who is a direct staff receives twice as much as his counterpart from the Niger Delta, receiving pension and so forth.

Today, what is happening? Shell is sacking most of our boys and girls from the Niger Delta by telephone. They will phone – your job is no longer there and it will be followed up with a letter. As I am talking to you today, while we called this press conference, today, Friday, May 30, 2008, a lot of them will be receiving letters from Shell to leave their jobs.

If these oil companies were to be situated in any other part of Nigeria other than Niger Delta, all that we would have been seeing is that, either 70 percent of the direct staff are from the South-East or from South-West or from the North. But that is not the situation in the Niger Delta or the South-South; we are being discriminated against in our own home.

“The employment is conducted, the policy is directed by people from other parts of Nigeria. They are the managerial staff, they are the senior managerial staff. Go to Shell and Ogunu, if you look at the name labels on the doors of the senior staff, 85 percent of them are non-Niger Deltans.

So, our people who were even at the lowest cadre are being eliminated, are being discriminated against and it has come to a stage that we will not allow this to continue and if Mr President fails to do something about it, It will affect definitely the peace programme for the Niger Delta particularly in the development plan in the seven-points agenda, which he wants to carry out.

There will be no peace without justice, there has to be justice and call the people in the Niger Delta whatever name you call them.

“A situation whereby divers are recruited from other parts of Nigeria to take the place where those who swim in the water are not taken, they are taken to the onshore even and as a result of that some of them were killed when the Niger Delta boys refused such an action.

“When they are saying that the crisis in the Niger Delta is escalating; the boys are unreasonable; the boys are illiterates, which is not true.

Ten years ago, I warned Shell that if they did not fashion out properly in the interest of the people of the area, they would find that youths of the area will take over the driving seat and that is what they are doing now and the unpleasantness of such action will be seen by everybody in this country. Let nobody pretend that the oil companies are just being protected in order to improve the economy of Nigeria, that is not true.

You cannot make the people of the Niger Delta who produce the wealth of the country to be jobless people; and those who have been employed are being sacked.

This situation, we will no longer accept and so we are calling on Shell in particular, which has started this programme of eliminating people from the Niger Delta to halt their policy immediately, otherwise they will face the consequences that will be very unpleasant to everybody.

“The reason why people say bring industry to your place, bring investment to your place is in order to give jobs to your people. But the industries and investments are in my area and we are suffering, we are not employed, then something is wrong somewhere, that is injustice and we won’t allow that.

We are not saying that do not employ other Nigerians, what we are saying is that do not prevent Niger Delta youths from being employed, even where few of them have been employed, do not dismiss them.

How many of us are lifting oil? We are so poor that our children no longer believe in us because you have nothing to offer to them. It is only in Nigeria that the man who produces the wealth of the nation is the poorest,” they said. and its also non-profit sister websites,,,,, and are all owned by John Donovan. There is also a Wikipedia article.

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