“That the political crisis in Nigeria is mainly about the struggle for the control of oil mineral resources which account for over 80 per cent of GDP, 95 per cent of national budget and 90 per cent of foreign exchange earnings. From which, 65 per cent, 75 per cent and 70 per cent 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.”
– Introduction to the Kaiama Declaration, 11 December, 1998
Last week we discussed Zik’s diplomatic forays and his successful bid to get the OAU to support the peaceful end of the Nigeria/Biafra war. In this conclusive part, we advise, out of experience on the need to select very sensitive moral, and God fearing patriotic Nigerians to be part of the Niger Delta talks. The civil war end game could have been better for the Biafrans if they had the best representative for Ojukwu in Addis Ababa.
Therefore at the final OAU resolution meeting on Biafra, and with Zik having accomplished his diplomatic forays, President Habib Bourguiba mounted a diplomatic offensive which in the end brought most of the Arab States and the His Royal Majesty King Haile Sellasie of Ethiopia on Zik’s side. Biafra was to make its critical concession and return to peace with honor. Unfortunately and for the records, the Biafran Representative for Ojukwu, Chief Mojekwu was not going to surrender or make any compromises. He was obdurate and from Addis Ababa, he let out the bag. He called the Biafran Head of State, and debunked the Zik’s diplomatic ambuscade. Eventually, Ojukwu hurriedly arrived Addis Ababa and without any consultations, without looking at the papers and without looking at the faces of the African Heads of States who were indeed in sympathy with him and his brave people, continued to ride on the precipice. The rest is history and please see the complete papers of the OAU Addis Ababa Meeting on the Biafra war.
Two weeks ago, this Column advised the parties involved in the cease fire between the Niger Delta Avengers and the authorities on the Federal side to end the saber-rattling and take advantage of President Buhari’s olive branch and approach the mahogany peace table holding onto the files containing the parties’ demands and issues, fueling the conflict. We also counseled that these feuding parties should start settling conflicting issues like price of oil products, which have negatively aggravated the economy and affected the social activities of the Nigerian people. At the same time, they should be ready to pick and extend to each other agreeable compromises.
This week, in order to situate the pending talks, we are immediately proposing some of the few great Nigerian minds we hope the authorities will invite to attend the peace talks on behalf of the Niger Delta people. Eventually, their antecedents, experience, morality would bring integrity, faith, movement and finality to the talks.
Edo State: We want to recognize the path finding roles of Chief S.A. Asemota, former Nigerian Police officer. While in service at Ife in 1967, he rescued a lot of bad situations, and at the risk of losing his authority he refused to condone further Police inhumanity to civilians. He later read Law and was alleviated to the rank of a SAN some 30 years ago. He was a leading Attorney to top foreign oil companies operating in the Niger Delta areas. Incorruptible, patriotic, Chief Asemota’s name rang so high that he was recommended to head and take the place of our Nigerian philosopher King, Prof. Ben Nwabueze as the Chairman of the Patriots heading to the National Conference. This recognition is apt for Prof. Nwabueze because he is from a different state, a different Region from Chief Asemota’s South South Regional bloc.
Rivers: it is our well thought recommendation that Prof. Tam David West be brought in to lead the Rivers State delegation to this important parley because he was a former Oil Minister who like Buhari abhors corruption and would be able to take the matters of his people direct for implementation before the Presidency. For one thing you are sure that this man will not talk with his tongue under the water. A man of consummate integrity has stood and won all his tests as a fighter for the poor. He is one of the few who knows to his fingertips the problems, the issues and how to get the President to sign for peace and for his people to ride out, unscathed from this impending implosion. Finally, he is a serious delegate and the Federal party or the Presidency will ignore him at their peril. We cannot present a full team of Rivers delegation without the inclusion of Dr. Green. Dr. Green was the Commissioner of Health in Rivers State when I was in government with Governor Dungs in Delta. He will not release money for the Governor’s social frivolities from his own budget and I would not do the same in Delta. Dr. Green used his budget and was the first and the last Commissioner that offered free eye treatment, corrective free eye glasses to all the Rivers State eye patients during his golden tenure. This iconoclast public servant was sacked by his military Governor “for not behaving like the rest of the Cabinet.”
Akwa Ibom: Justice Odo Bassey, this is the only Nigerian Judge in living memory, who in the face of the gun refused the Military a favor. He was ordered to hand in a verdict against his conscience and the court processes. He stood his grounds and paid for it. He was recalled after some fifteen years of suspension. This Justice is an example that corruption is not for every Nigerian. If we do our research steadfastly, they are more incorruptible Nigerians than the thieves parading the corridors of power.
Cross River: Leading the delegation of this State should be former Governor Clement Ebri, who is incidentally no longer in politics. Great connoisseur of historic books, His Excellency since retirement from public office has been moving around, resolving crisis amongst communities, and seeking peace for feuding Professionals and Journalists. He is able to succeed because of his Spartan life style and his inclination of broadening his knowledge by reading more than four books in a day. Indeed most of the warring parties sheathe their swords on his intervention.
Lt. Col. Nsudoh was the greatest Biafran fighting leatherneck originally from Akwa Ibom but lives in Calabar. From his scalp to his toe Nsudoh’s body is riddled with bullet wounds. According to the late Brigadier Conrad Nwawor of the Biafra’s most successful 11th Army Commander, “Lt. Col. Nsudoh had apparently cheated death several times and was critically wounded during the battle for Onitsha. The same Nsudoh was mentioned at the ferocious battle of Awka when the Biafrans were about to lose the town.
Nsudoh I ordered to go in and stop the Federal advance into Onitsha.” Col Nsudoh is well known and was a contemporary of the President in the Nigerian Army of 1966. His symbolic presence at the parley is to convey to the Avengers the futility and the brutality of war. On the path of the Presidency, Col Nsudoh’s presence would be to remind the Federal side that ensuing injustice in any form can only beget violence.
Delta: nobody has invited any western Igbo activist to be part of the South South delegation for this important negotiation. This is not withstanding the fact that Okpai in Kwale province has the greatest occurrence of gas in the West African zone. In fact the gas occurrence in Okpai is by far bigger than that of Brass. While the other Ijaw, Itsekiri, Isoko, Urhobo areas are prime producers of oil.
On account of his very obvious completion of his mission in record time, we recommend to represent the western Igbos on the South South delegation, the accomplished former Chief of Naval Staff, Admiral Dele Ezeoba.
While Dr. Ngozi Iweala, former de facto Prime Minister in the last Roman PDP regime, Air Marshall Dike, Jay-jay Okocha, have nothing to show for their prominence in government and world camera; Admiral Dele Ezeoba had without fanfare and with little time in his tenure established the naval school in Ibusa. Moreover, the Niger Delta crisis is in so many ways a naval operational issue. The gentleman was a great naval officer and had silently and with great merit reached the zenith of his career. I think Dele Ezeoba can swim and sail the troubled waters of the Niger, for the sake of his people in the Niger Delta and for the integrity of the Federal power.