The fight to control the natural resources from Niger Delta region got much stronger when youths in the region got into arms struggle. After the Movement for The Survival of Ogoni People-MOSOP started having nonviolent demonstrations in Ogoniland condemning the environmental degradation of Ogoniland by multinational oil giant –Shell Petroleum Development Company –SPDC exploitation and exploration with its negative effects. And Ken SaroWiwa was hanged by the Federal. The Niger Delta Human and Environmental Rescue Organization-ND-HERO led by Nelson Azibuola a nephew to President Goodluck Jonathan from Ogbia Local Government Area of Bayelsa state was so vocal in the Niger Delta Struggle so much that his Non-Governmental Organization was vocal in the struggle that it got involved in the negotiation to release kidnapped expatriates by Niger Delta youths. The Supreme Egbesu Assembly operated in the Niger delta region with peaceful demonstration carried out at Port Harcourt Government House and other major public places. Dr Felix Tuodolo and Mr Ogoriba Timi Kaiser-Wilhelm were in the front of the leading youth of Ijaw extractions as Barrister Oronto Dauglas Chikoko Movement and his Environmental Right Agenda-ERA took up environmental research and publications which attracted international attention about the degradation of Niger Delta environment by Oil extractive industries in Niger Delta region.
Worst still was the coming of Alhaji Asari Dokubo leader of the Niger Delta Peoples Volunteer Force. It made much impact in sensitizing the global community about the exploitation of the wealth coming from the mangrove nooks and crannies and various poor stricken communities of Niger Delta. The local boys Ijaw Youth Councils also got involved in the struggle proper with the local distillation and production of Petroleum products taking place in the creeks. Ateke Tom from Okochiri in Okrika Local Government Area of Bayelsa state led the Niger Delta Vigilante Movement also agitating against the exploitation of Niger Delta people’s resources by the Federal Government of Nigeria. The arms struggle helped in decimating the population of economic investments in the Niger Delta region with its attendant economic flight as most expatriates left Niger Delta region to elsewhere in the country some went and relocated to Lagos with the headquarters of their companies’ others moved out to Abuja whereas many moved out from Nigeria entirely. An Ijaw born High Chief Government Ekpemukpolo alias TOMOPOLO was in charge of Movement for The Emancipation of Niger Delta-MEND which made several uncomfortable and destructive engagements against the oil giants operating in the Niger Delta region. Although many Militants emerged including Chief Victor Ben Ebikabowei alias –BOYLOAF he was at the center of the agitation and struggle to making Niger Delta region control its natural resources. Dr. Dagogo Ipalibo Farah was the leader Niger Delta Strike Force a former Commander of Asari Dokubo’s Niger Delta Peoples Volunteers Force did a lot in drawing the attention of the international community to the living economic deprivations of the Niger Delta people in Nigerian state.
Other Niger Delta militants such as Soboma George who was founder of THE OUTLAW and member of Movement For The Emancipation of Niger Delta-MEND was vocal in his condemnation of the adverse activities of oil giants operating in Niger Delta even when he was one of the high commanders of Ateke Tom’s Niger Delta Vigilantes Movement , late Soboma George made fame and fortune before he was abruptly gunned down by rival cult group in the street of Port Harcourt.
In the protagonist tendencies of the Niger Delta youths the call for Self-determination and another call for the emergence of President of Nigeria of Niger delta extraction became a common call by people like Late Dr Marshall Harry who came up with Campaign for The Realization of South-South President-CRESSOP in 2002 leading to the 2003 Presidential election. It was on this note that gave the various political parties in the country in 2007 to search for a South-South Vice President as Governor Goodluck Jonathan was lucky in that order to have emerged as Vice President and later President of the Federal Republic of Nigeria in 2007 and Acting President 2009 as he was elected President in 2011-2015.
THE GAINS OF THE NIGER DELTA STRUGGLE
Given the repercussion of the Niger Delta Struggle which included economic flight and comatose in production of oil and gas there were some levels of positive gains in the Niger Delta struggle which has brought development to the people. The creation of Niger Delta River Basin Development Authority with others being replicated across the country was originally designed to ameliorate the sufferings of the people of Niger Delta as management of agricultural developmental ventures was put on the front burner by the Federal Government of Nigeria. The area also benefitted in the creation of more states in Nigeria as in 1967 Old Rivers state, South Eastern Nigeria were created by Lt. General Yakubu Gowon. While Sani Abacha created Akwa Ibom. The Federation Account financial allocation also increased revenue earning of the Oil and Gas producing states to be 13% in Oil and 13% in gas instead of 3% and 1.5%. In this way Niger Delta states have been able to gather money to embark on infrastructural development in Niger Delta and the creation in 2000AD of Niger Delta Development Commission an interventionist development body is a quick way of arresting backwardness in human and capital development.
On the political gains the people of Niger Delta since the commencement of the struggle have become visible in sharing of political offices at the federal level. Hence most Niger Delta people are now given responsibilities in key ministerial appointments with the appointment of late Justice Nebo Graham Douglas as the Attorney General and Minister of Justice during Lt. General Yakubu Gowon regime. Even Chief Precious Ngalele was appointed Minister for Water Resources. And Dr, Odein Henry Ajumogobia as Minister of Foreign Affairs and later Minister of State for Petroleum Resources even Edmund Daukoru was Minister for Energy and Precious Abiye Sekibo was appointed Minister for Transportation as well as Mrs Diezani Allison Madueke as Minister of Petroleum Resources, His Excellency Chibuike Rotimi Amaechi was appointed as Minister of Transportation in 2015. This goes on with allocation of juicy ambassadorial postings by Federal Government, such that friendly nations such South Korea had Ambassador Desmond Akawor.
Since 2009 when Presidential Amnesty Programme was put in place by late President Umaru Musa Yar’Adua prominent citizens of Niger Delta have headed it till today when an Ijaw born retired Army General is in charge. Even the Ministry of Niger Delta Affairs was a creation of Late President Umaru Musa Yar’Aduah which is currently running side by side with other interventionist agencies such as Niger Delta Development Commission-NDDC. In fact, the Kaiama Declaration of 11th December, 1998 had brought more gains than pains with the United Nations Environmental Programme-UNEP conducting research in Ogoniland about environmental degradation which claimed the life of internationally acclaimed Novelist and Playwright kenule Saro-Wiwa who led Movement For The Survival of Ogoni People –MOSOP in protesting against the environmental degradation of Ogoniland by multinational oil companies. Today, the Ogoni people have been proven right for their Non-Violence agitation against environmental pollution as Federal Government of Nigeria had put up remediation measures in ameliorating the damages done to their land. This led to the creation of Hydrocarbon Pollution and Restoration Project-HYPREP.
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It is on record that 20 years after the Kaiama Declaration the area had produced President Goodluck Jonathan an achievement so distanced from the people in the past as Ijaw nation was just 4th ethnic group in Nigeria.