A Niger Delta based Students Union Body, the National Association of Ogulagha Students, NAOCS , in Burutu Local Government Area of Delta State have yesterday organised a mega students convention to learn its voice on the position of the Niger Delta in the Nigerian State.
Speaking on the topic “Is the Niger-Delta duly Treated in the Nigerian State,” Barr. Eric Omare, spokesperson of the Ijaw Youth Council who was the guest lecturer opined that fiscal federalism remains the most viable option for a better Niger Delta.
The revered spokesperson of the Ijaw Youth Council argued that the five years of Goodluck Jonathan was not enough to give the Niger Delta the needed development.
On the position of the Niger Delta in the Nigerian economy, Omare said ” Oil revenue from the Niger Delta region sustains the Nigerian economy. Oil accounts for more than 80% of the Nigerian foreign earnings. This has been the position since oil was discovered in commercial quantity.
“However, the question is whether the Niger Delta region has been treated fairly or has gotten a fair share of economic opportunities in the oil and gas industry in spite of its contributions to the nation’s economy
“It is fair to say that in spite of the contribution of the Niger Delta region to the economy of Nigeria, the region and its people have not been treated fairly in the distribution of economic opportunities in the oil and gas sector.
“Whereas, the oil resources are found in the Niger Delta region, but the region and its people are grossly marginalized in respect of economic opportunities in the oil and gas industry.
“In May, 2015, Senator Ita Enang, a senator from Akwa Ibom State shocked the nation when he revealed that eighty (80%) of oil blocks in Nigeria which are found in the Niger Delta are owned by Northerners during the Senate debate on the Petroleum Industry Bill (PIB).
“Though this indignation did not come as a surprise to some of us, as it clearly shows the level of injustice and maltreatment against Niger Deltans by the Nigerian State. If the oil resources in the Niger Delta Delta were to be found in any part of the North.
“It would interest you to know that even in the few cases where Niger Deltans own oil blocks, you can hardly find someone from the oil producing communities /Kingdoms such as Ogulagha owning oil blocks. This in my view is unfair treatment and injustice against our people. ” Omare noted
On the way forward for the Niger Delta, in his words ” The position of the Niger Delta region in relation to the political and economic subjugation is well documented. As far back 1956 , the Henry Willinks Commission Report on the Niger Delta aptly captioned the concerns of the Niger Delta people. Subsequent reports and studies have eloquently articulated the position of the Niger Delta people within the Nigerian State.
“In essence, what the Niger Delta people want is a federal system of government where the federating units would have a substantial control over activities in their areas including ownership and control of natural resources.
“The practice of true federalism would address most of the agitations in Nigeria and result in peaceful and prosperous country. This can only be realized through restructuring of the country.
“The present system is not working and responsible for most of the problems confronting the nation “. Comr. Eric stated.
The outgoing President of the National Association of Ogulagha Students, NAOCS, Comr. Timipere Potoki in his welcome address alleges that there have been increase in the educational pursuit among students in the Kingdom as he decried among other issues, emphasized on the non availability of a library for budding researchers and learners to study.
“It is worthy to note that Ogulagha Kingdom indigenes have taken a keen interest to non-violent education which is a symbol for peaceful coexistence and infrastructural development.
“Despite this increase in educational pursuit there is still a lot to be done and achieved to enable learning more conducive and comfortable such as introducing more scholarship policy within the Kingdom through her GMOU.
“It is painful to note that Ogulagha Kingdom has no working library in which students can go in for their own personal research despite the God given natural endowment.
“No provision of educational benefit, Job creation for tertiary students in the Kingdom in which we can engage in when on holidays. Difficulty in seeking the compulsory six months industrial training placement despite numerous multinationals in the Kingdom.
“It is also discouraging to note the degrading willingness and developmental strength of this Association and that there is vast isolation and carefree character in the hearts of Naocsites, Kingdom leaders and the ordinary man hence weakening the strength of student advocacy in the Kingdom ” Comr. Potoki said.
Also speaking during the event, where Hon. Godspower Akiefa, Engr. Felix Braboke, Comr. Emmanuel Akpule all admitted that education remains the best legacy anyone can give to his children and generation while charging the Ogulagha students to make self sacrifices in its attainment, stressing that the acquisition of western education have right from time immemorial has been such an herculean task.
Chairman of the occasion, Apst. (Dr.) Godspower Tomone who was represented by Comr. Williams Guwor appreciated the students for the organization of the programme, he particularly tasked the students to involve communal leadership across the Kingdom in subsequent conventions in order to mobilize the people to see more reasons to attend the Association’s programme.