The National Union of Ogoni Students, NUOS International USA has been commenting on the continuing crisis in Nigeria’s oil-rich Niger Delta region. At the conclusion of its annual conference held in Kansas City, Missouri, NUOS International USA said it is opposed to what it called the criminal negligence of the Niger Delta by successive Nigerian governments.
KorneBari Nwike is president of NUOS International USA. He told VOA his organization is demanding an immediate end to the Niger Delta conflict.
“We actually identified that the Niger Delta has been criminally neglected by the Nigerian government for a very long time. And we therefore proposed that the president of Nigeria, Umaru Musa Yar’ Adua and the National Assembly should enact laws that will allow the oil bearing communities of the Niger Delta to control their environment and economic resources,” he said.
In its communiqué, NUOS International USA appealed to the Bush administration to pressure the Nigerian government to accede to the demands of Niger Delta citizens for resource control.
Nwike also said the group also condemned the kidnapping of children in the Niger Delta.
“It’s a disturbing issue in the Niger Delta, we are calling on all people of good will to actually come to help the Niger Delta because there is a problem. That’s why this is going on. But we were very bitter about the situation, and we condemned it. We rather a non-violent situation where we confront the government peacefully to resolve this crisis,” Nwike said.
Over the years, the Ogoni people have accused Shell Oil Company of destroying their environment. NUOS International USA said it welcomes any genuine efforts by Shell to clean up the devastated land. But Nwike said any such effort should be transparent.
“The issue of Shell is very paramount to us, and as you are well aware, the Ogoni have a class action law suite against Shell in the United States of America. And we are saying Shell cannot return to Ogoni because they still remain persona non grata. They have not made steps to resolve this issue. But rather they have been coercing us to allow them to come back to Ogoni, which we object. We are saying that reconciliation we can start with a dialogue. The Ogoni people and Shell and the federal government should sit down together with an international overseer to resolve this crisis,” he said.
Perhaps the most famous Ogoni citizen was writer and environmentalist Ken Saro-Wiwa who led the fight against the destruction of the region’s environment by multinational companies. Saro-Wiwa and eight other Ogonis were executed on November 10, 1995 by the military government of Sani Abacha.
Nwike said NUOS International has called on the Nigerian federal government to clear Saro-Wiwa and the eight other Ogonis of any crime.
“We actually deliberated that Ken Saro-Wiwa should be exonerated of any crime that was purported to have been committed by him because we still stand on the fact that Ken Saro-Wiwa did not murder anybody. He’s free in the conscience of all Ogonis,” Nwike said.
NUOS International USA also called on the federal government to upgrade the Rivers State Polytechnic Bori to a university status.
“We actually want the federal government to transform this polytechnic to a university because we do not see a situation where we have over 2.3 million population and this no university to take of this population. What are you breeding? You are breeding criminals. And that’s why there is crisis in Ogoni right now. And without education, these youths are useless,” Nwike said.