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Note: This document is from the archive of the Africa Policy E-Journal, published by the Africa Policy Information Center (APIC) from 1995 to 2001 and by Africa Action from 2001 to 2003. APIC was merged into Africa Action in 2001. Please note that many outdated links in this archived document may not work.

Nigeria: Delta Update

Nigeria: Delta Update
Date distributed (ymd): 981230
Document reposted by APIC

+++++++++++++++++++++Document Profile+++++++++++++++++++++

Region: West Africa
Issue Areas: +political/rights+ +economy/development+ +security/peace+
Summary Contents:
This posting contains several documents updating the situation in the oil-rich Delta region in Nigeria, including (1) the Kaiama Declaration from a conference of Ijaw youth, distributed by Project Underground, (2) excerpts from an update by the Movement for the Survival of the Ogoni People (MOSOP), and (3) a press release from MOSOP on formation of a new security task force for the Delta. Additional relevant background documents can be found in the postings on the shell-nigeria-action listserv, archived at:

+++++++++++++++++end profile++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++



[For more information:
Steve Kretzmann, Oil Campaign Director
Project Underground: Supporting communities threatened by the mining and oil industries
1847 Berkeley Way, Berkeley, CA, 94703
510-705-8982 - office; 510-705-8983 - fax
E-mail:; web:]


We, Ijaw youths drawn from over five hundred communities from over 40 clans that make up the Ijaw nation and representing 25 representative organisations met, today, in Kaiama to deliberate on the best way to ensure the continuos survival of the indigenous peoples of the Ijaw ethnic nationality of the Niger Delta within the Nigerian state.

After exhaustive deliberations, the Conference observed:

  1. That it was through British colonisation that the IJAW NATION was forcibly put under the Nigerian State
  2. That but for the economic interests of the imperialists, the Ijaw ethnic nationality would have evolved as a distinct and separate sovereign nation, enjoying undiluted political, economic, social, and cultural AUTONOMY.
  3. That the division of the Southern Protectorate into East and West in 1939 by the British marked the beginning of the balkanisation of a hitherto territorially contiguous and culturally homogeneous Ijaw people into political and administrative units, much to our disadvantage. This trend is continuing in the balkanisation of the Ijaws into six states-Ondo, Edo, Delta, Bayelsa, Rivers and Akwa Ibom States, mostly as minorities who suffer socio-political, economic, cultural and psychological deprivations.
  4. That the quality of life of Ijaw people is deteriorating as a result of utter neglect, suppression and marginalisation visited on Ijaws by the alliance of the Nigerian state and transnational oil companies.
  5. That the political crisis in Nigeria is mainly about the struggle for the control of oil mineral resources which account for over 80% of GDP, 95 %of national budget and 90% of foreign exchange earnings. From which, 65%, 75% and 70% respectively are derived from within the Ijaw nation. Despite these huge contributions, our reward from the Nigerian State remains avoidable deaths resulting from ecological devastation and military repression.
  6. That the unabating damage done to our fragile natural environment and to the health of our people is due in the main to uncontrolled exploration and exploitation of crude oil and natural gas which has led to numerous oil spillages, uncontrolled gas flaring, the opening up of our forests to loggers, indiscriminate canalisation, flooding, land subsidence, coastal erosion, earth tremors etc. Oil and gas are exhaustible resources and the complete lack of concern for ecological rehabilitation, in the light of the Oloibiri experience, is a signal of impending doom for the peoples of Ijawland.
  7. That the degradation of the environment of Ijawland by transnational oil companies and the Nigerian State arise mainly because Ijaw people have been robbed of their natural rights to ownership and control of their land and resources through the instrumentality of undemocratic Nigerian State legislations such as the Land Use Decree of 1978, the Petroleum Decrees of 1969 and 1991, the Lands (Title Vesting etc.) Decree No. 52 of 1993 (Osborne Land Decree), the National Inland Waterways Authority Decree No. 13 of 1997 etc.
  8. That the principle of Derivation in Revenue Allocation has been consciously and systematically obliterated by successive regimes of the Nigerian state. We note the drastic reduction of the Derivation Principle from 100% (1953), 50% (1960), 45% (1970), 20% (1975) 2% (1982), 1.5% (1984) to 3% (1992 to date), and a rumored 13% in Abacha's 1995 undemocratic and unimplemented Constitution.
  9. That the violence in Ijawland and other parts of the Niger Delta area, sometimes manifesting in intra and inter ethnic conflicts are sponsored by the State and transnational oil companies to keep the communities of the Niger Delta area divided, weak and distracted from the causes of their problems.
  10. That the recent revelations of the looting of national treasury by the Abacha junta is only a reflection of an existing and continuing trend of stealing by public office holders in the Nigerian state. We remember the over 12 billion dollars Gulf war windfall, which was looted by Babangida and his cohorts We note that over 70% of the billions of dollars being looted by military rulers and their civilian collaborators is derived from our ecologically devastated Ijawland.

Based on the foregoing, we, the youths of Ijawland hereby make the following resolutions to be known as the Kaiama Declaration:

  1. All land and natural resources (including mineral resources) within the Ijaw territory belong to Ijaw communities and are the basis of our survival.
  2. We cease to recognise all undemocratic decrees that rob our peoples/communities of the right to ownership and control of our lives and resources, which were enacted without our participation and consent. These include the Land Use Decree and The Petroleum Decree etc.
  3. We demand the immediate withdrawal from Ijawland of all military forces of occupation and repression by the Nigerian State. Any oil company that employs the services of the armed forces of the Nigerian State to "protect" its operations will be viewed as an enemy of the Ijaw people. Family members of military personnel stationed in Ijawland should appeal to their people to leave the Ijaw area alone.
  4. Ijaw youths in all the communities in all Ijaw clans in the Niger Delta will take steps to implement these resolutions beginning from the 30th of December, 1998, as a step towards reclaiming the control of our lives. We, therefore, demand that all oil companies stop all exploration and exploitation activities in the Ijaw area. We are tired of gas flaring; oil spillages, blowouts and being labelled saboteurs and terrorists. It is a case of preparing the noose for our hanging. We reject this labelling. Hence, we advice all oil companies staff and contractors to withdraw from Ijaw territories by the 30th December, 1998 pending the resolution of the issue of resource ownership and control in the Ijaw area of the Niger Delta
  5. Ijaw youths and Peoples will promote the principle of peaceful coexistence between all Ijaw communities and with our immediate neighbours, despite the provocative and divisive actions of the Nigerian State, transnational oil companies and their contractors. We offer a hand of friendship and comradeship to our neighbors: the Itsekiri, Ilaje, Urhobo, Isoko, Edo, Ibibio, Ogoni, Ekpeye, Ikwerre etc. We affirm our commitment to joint struggle with the other ethnic nationalities in the Niger delta area for self-determination.
  6. We express our solidarity with all peoples organisations and ethnic nationalities in Nigeria and elsewhere who are struggling for self-determination and justice. In particular we note the struggle of the Oodua peoples Congress (OPC), the Movement for the Survival of Ogoni People (Mosop), Egi Women's Movement etc.
  7. We extend our hand of solidarity to the Nigerian oil workers (NUPENG and PENGASSAN) and expect that they will see this struggle for freedom as a struggle for humanity
  8. We reject the present transition to civil rule programme of the Abubakar regime, as it is not preceded by restructuring of the Nigerian federation. The way forward is a Sovereign National Conference of equally represented ethnic nationalities to discuss the nature of a democratic federation of Nigerian ethic nationalities. Conference noted the violence and killings that characterized the last local government elections in most parts of the Niger Delta. Conference pointed out that these electoral conflicts are a manifestation of the undemocratic and unjust nature of the military transition programme. Conference affirmed therefore, that the military are incapable of enthroning true democracy in Nigeria.
  9. We call on all Ijaws to remain true to their Ijawness and to work for the total liberation of our people. You have no other true home but that which is in Ijawland.
  10. We agreed to remain within Nigeria but to demand and work for Self Government and resource control for the Ijaw people. Conference approved that the best way for Nigeria is a federation of ethnic nationalities. The federation should be run on the basis equality and social justice.

Finally, Ijaw youths resolve to set up the Ijaw Youth Council (IYC) to coordinate the struggle of Ijaw peoples for self-determination and justice.

Signed for the entire participants:

Felix Tuodolo

Ogoriba, Timi Kaiser-Wilhelm

DECEMBER 30th 1998 05:30 GMT & UK (06:30 NIGERIA)
For more information please contact Ledum Mitee
Tel/ fax. [+234] 84 230 250
Tel. [+871] 761 866639 (Inmarsat)
e-mail: MOSOP

Excerpts from summary of OGONI, SHELL & THE NIGERIAN STATE, DECEMBER 1998.
Last updated December 30th 1998. If referring to this document later than February 28th 1999
please consult the MOSOP International Secretariat for any new update.
[Note: this document and other updated statements of position will be available on the MOSOP web site
( on Ogoni Day, January 4, 1999.]

Niger Delta in crisis

Although the human rights crisis in Ogoni has improved significantly in recent months, violence has spread across other oil-producing areas in the rest of the Niger Delta and Nigeria's oil-producing southwest coast since mid-September. According to Nigerian media reports this unrest has left 100s dead and has forced ten of thousands of people to flee from ethic disturbances, mostly caused by disputes over land and oil rights. According to community leaders this unrest is a direct result of the growing poverty in the Delta, caused by the lack of economic and social development and the unjust allocation of oil revenues.

Armed protestors from other - non-Ogoni - Niger Delta communities hijacked oilrigs and flow stations in October 1998. Shell and other foreign oil companies operating or prospecting in Nigeria were forced to cut around one quarter of the country's oil exports in response to the crisis. A number of foreign oil workers kidnapped by armed Delta youths were released in late November.

A fire caused by an oil spill at Jesse, Delta State on October 18th 1998 has left at least 1000 dead. According to media reports most of the victims died as they tried to salvage crude oil from a burst pipe. The lack of basic medical provision for oil-producing communities, and a comment to journalists by military Head of State General Abubakar - visiting the scene - that victims would not receive compensation because they were 'saboteurs' seem to have caused the death toll to rise.

Burns victims feared arrest if they reported to international relief agency hospitals set up to cope with the emergency.

In response to the deepening crisis in the Delta, General Abubakar has announced a development package, including a major road building program. Many Delta community leaders point out that new roads will be of primary benefit to oil companies. What oil-producing communities need are basic health and educational provision, and investment in locally based economic development, Delta leaders say. General Abubakar has also re-instituted the discredited development board (OMPADEC), shut down by the previous military administration following allegations of serious corruption and mismanagement. Communities in the Niger Delta have dismissed the re-institution of OMPADEC as an inadequate stopgap measure.

Although General Abubakar has committed himself to transition to democratic civilian rule and 'national reconciliation' a statement that he: '[hopes] the oil-producing areas will realise the enormity of the problems of running a country as big as Nigeria and stop vandalising or sabotaging the operations of oil companies' has given rise to serious doubts that the current transition to democracy process will benefit minorities in oil-producing regions.

"The Ogoni and Niger Delta crisis presents the single greatest threat to the sustainability of democratic reform in Nigeria" - Ledum Mitee, MOSOP Acting President, to members of the Commonwealth Ministerial Action Group, October 9th 1998.

MOSOP Press Release
December 30, 1998


MOSOP has joined other Niger Delta community groups in expressing its deep concern over the announced formation of a Naval Special Security Task Force to police the Delta.

According to a Nigerian Television Authority (NTA) report on December 25th, the Nigerian military authorities are creating the Task Force to `protect oil installations against vandalisation'. This announcement was credited to the Chief of Naval Staff, Rear Admiral Jubril Anyinah during a courtesy call on the Military Administrator of Rivers State, Group Captain Sam Ewang.

Delta communities are interpreting the formation of the Task Force as an ominous sign that the military authorities are consolidating their political control over oil producing areas - and the country's main source of income - in preparation for a shift of power to civilian administration in 1999.

Speaking from London - immediately before returning to Ogoni to chair a conference of the ethnic nationalities of the Niger Delta - MOSOP Acting President Ledum Mitee said:

"The Ogoni and Niger Delta crisis presents the single greatest threat to the sustainability of democratic reform in Nigeria. This announcement signifies a worrying escalation of the militarisation of the Delta. Many groups like MOSOP - who advocate non-violent resistance to economic injustice and rights violations - are trying to create dialogue with the authorities, to deepen their understanding of our plight. We want to build a positive peace in the Delta. If these media reports are correct, theb we urgently appeal to the authorities will reconsider their decision. More militarisation will undermine the fragile, negative peace that currently exists in Ogoni".

"This presents a very worrying development, especially against the backdrop of the authorities' refusal to comply with the demands of the Ogoni people and the international community to disband the Rivers State Internal Security Task Force. The RVSISTF still occupies and terrorises Ogoni, under the new name of Operation Flush but still under the direct command of Major Obi Umahi".

On September 8th 1998 - following the release of 20 Ogoni political prisoners who had been held illegally for more than four years - the UK Foreign Minister Tony Lloyd said: `we [the UK government] have lobbied tirelessly for their release and for that of all political prisoners in Nigeria [...] We hope that this will also lead to the early withdrawal of the internal security task force from Ogoniland'.


(c) Movement for the Survival of the Ogoni People (MOSOP),1998.

Movement for the Survival of the Ogoni People (MOSOP), 20 Station Road,
Port Harcourt, Nigeria
Tel/ fax. [+234] 84 230 250
Tel. [+871] 761 866639 (Inmarsat)
e-mail: MOSOP

Movement for the Survival of the Ogoni People (MOSOP),
International Secretariat: Suite 5, 3 - 4 Albion Place, Galena Road,
London W6 0LT, United Kingdom.
Tel. (+44) (0)181 563 8614
Fax. (+44) (0)181 563 8615
e-mail: MOSOP International secretariat

This material is being reposted for wider distribution by the Africa Policy Information Center (APIC). APIC's primary objective is to widen the policy debate in the United States around African issues and the U.S. role in Africa, by concentrating on providing accessible policy-relevant information and analysis usable by a wide range of groups and individuals.

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