Tuesday, 7 August 2012

Special Report: One Day National Stakeholders’ Conference On One Year Anniversary of UNEP Report On Ogoniland On August 4, 2012 At New Chelsea Hotel, Abuja

Barrister Courage Nsirimovu
Report By Courage Nsirimovu
Access To Justice Attorney,
Institute Of Human Rights And Humanitarian Laws.
Theme: UNEP Report And The Quest For Ecological Justice In Ogoniland
The meeting started at about 10am with the opening remark by Dr. Otive Igbuzor (Executive Director, African Centre). He stated that the struggle for Eco-Justice dates back to colonial times, which graduated into arm struggle. He emphasized the essence of documented report in such a struggle. The UNEP report validates or legitimizes the struggle and confirms the assertions of Late Ken Saro Wiwa and his compatriots.

Nimmo Bassey (Executive Director ERA/FoEN) said that “We are here today to mark a year of inaction after the report that was supposed to be implemented immediately after August  4th 2011. The report clearly stated actions to be taken urgently and yet has been delayed till this moment through the formation of unnecessary committees”.  Nimmo denied the rumuor of declaration of an Ogoni Republic. UNEP Report legitimizes the Niger Delta outcry.

Few of The immediate demands are;
1.  Provision of portable drinking water to avert death from acidic water
2. To place signposts at contaminated wells or areas as danger warning in order to stop the use of such harmful  water or resource to prevent further death.

In response, the Rivers State Government provided 30 Tank load of water for millions of Ogoni’s not stating that the tankers were below clean health standard. This aid was rejected.

He said , to clean the land will take up to 35yrs , 5years to clean up the land and 30years to clean up the water . The oil sunk so many metres deep into the land as against the 2metres claimed by SHELL.

He further cried out that the 2012 budget had no provision for the cleanup and compensation and thus we must strategize to have it put in the 2013 budget.

Keynote Address was by Richard Steiner (Professor and Conservation Biologist, Oasis Earth)

He Recommended:
(1) Stop future oil spill by adopting best international practice
(2) Clean up the affected areas
(3) Restore the land
(4) Compensate the people affected.

Emmanuel Alozie  recited the last words of Ken Saro Wiwa in a session which would be reckoned as most sensational, but more sensational was the crude and shocking revelation from an Ogoni woman  Veronica Kobani from GOI community ( now inhabited because of land and air pollution) She stated thus:
We are now refugees in our own country, the pollutions and    acidic emissions have caused untold death and hardship on us. God did not plan this for us but SHELL made it so. SHELL and The Nigerian Gov. have refused to honour the report. A land where we use to pick periwinkle, Where our husbands fish and women farm, where we easily ferment cassava, is now dead. We appeal to the Government to look into the Ogoni Issue and restore our land . its now holiday But we cant take our inquisitive children home. They ask us questions we cannot answer, it will be suicidal to take them home, for many have died from the evil pollution. 
We had about 6 speakers on various topics based on the issues at stake among which are Celestine Akpobari, Mike Karipo and Hon Uche Onyeagucha who gave most of the adopted recommendations. Celestine Akpobari spoke on: Why The UNEP Report Must Not Die. Mike Highlighted the UNDP report on Ogoniland. This is to mention but a few.

The ground was open again and recommendations flew in from sympathizers from north south east and west. It was good to also have solidarity from the north which made it seem like Nigeria is one indivisible nation.  Questions were asked and answered . Lunch was served while the committee of four drafted the adopted recommendations. It was agreed that NGO’S would volunteer to partner with ERA/FoEN in pushing for the implementation of the said report. The 7 groups will take form based on areas of interest in the 7 adopted recommendations or call it plan of action.

Adopted Recommendations:
1.    Sensitize the Ogoni Community on what it portend for them to have the UNEP Report implemented 2.   Mobilization of interest groups/Stakeholders allies for an organized push to compel the F.G  and SHELL to comply with the UNEP report implementation
3.   Preparation, submission and follow-up on public petitions to the Rivers State House of Assembly Committee on environment. House of Reps Committee Public Petition and the Senate Through Senator Magnus Abbe who represents Ogoniland in the National Assembly. 4. Organized Advocacy visit to the Federal Ministry of Environment, Rivers State Commissioner for Environment and the President through comrade Oronto Douglas.
5.   Picket SHELL office at Marina by activists periodically until result is achieved

6.   Institute legal action in FCT Federal High Court seeking for an order of mandamus compelling the F.G and SHELL to implement. 7. Look at opportunity of making presentation on the issue of implementation of the UNEP Report to regional bodies and blocs such as ECOWAS, AU, EU and Un.  

Communiqué: Joint Communiqué Issued On The Occasion Of Official Visit To Jamaica By Nigeria’s President Goodluck Jonathan

1. At the invitation of the Most Honourable Portia Simpson Miller, ON, MP, Prime Minister of Jamaica, His Excellency Dr. Goodluck Jonathan, President of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, paid a State Visit to Jamaica from 2nd- 3rd August 2012, to celebrate the 178th Anniversary of Emancipation and the 50th Anniversary of Independence of Jamaica. The President was accompanied by Her Excellency Patience Jonathan, First Lady of Nigeria.

2. The visit allowed for the further enhancement of bilateral relations and provided for the continuation of the high-level dialogue and cooperation between the two Governments.

3. Upon his arrival, President Jonathan was received by the Most Honourable Sir Patrick Allen, ON, GCMG, CD, Governor General of Jamaica and by the Most Honourable Portia Simpson Miller, ON, MP, Prime Minister of Jamaica, as well as members of her Cabinet.

4. President Jonathan attended the Special Commemorative Joint Session of Parliament dedicated to Jamaica's Independence Jubilee and addressed the assembly.

5. The President visited Liberty Hall and the Marcus Garvey Museum in Kingston, which serve as a significant educational, social, cultural and intellectual centre and a living monument to the Right Excellent Marcus Mosiah Garvey, who dedicated his life to the upliftment of Africa and peoples of African descent everywhere. The President offered to provide the Museum with additional photographic and video material on Nigeria.

6. President Jonathan visited the Jubilee Village where he viewed the 'Mello Go Roun' cultural presentation.

7. The President met with members of the Nigerian Diaspora in Jamaica.

8. President Jonathan paid a courtesy call on His Excellency the Most Honourable, Sir Patrick Allen, ON, GCMG, CD, Governor General. This was followed by courtesy calls on the Most Honourable Portia Simpson Miller, ON, MP, Prime Minister and the Honourable Andrew Holness, MP, Leader of the Opposition.

9. President Jonathan and Prime Minister Simpson Miller co-chaired a bilateral meeting on matters of mutual interest to Jamaica and Nigeria, including Energy, Trade, Air Services, Sports, Cultural and Technical Cooperation, the Jamaica-Nigeria Joint Commission and the Global African Diaspora Summit held in May 2012. They also discussed the strides made by Jamaica since its independence in 1962.

10. The Jamaican delegation at the bilateral meeting included Senator the Honourable A.J. Nicholson, Q.C., Minister of Foreign Affairs and Foreign Trade; Dr. the Hon. Peter Phillips, Minister of Finance and Planning; Hon. Lisa Hanna, Minister of Youth and Culture; Hon. Phillip Paulwell, Minister of Science, Technology, Energy and Mining; Senator the Hon. Sandrea Falconer, Minister with responsibility for Information, and several other Government officials.

11. The Nigerian delegation included H.E. Amb. Olugbenga Ashiru, Minister of Foreign Affairs; H.E. Dr. Edem Duke, Minister of Culture and Tourism; H.E. Otunba Olatokunboh Kamson, High Commissioner of Nigeria to Jamaica and other Government officials.

Bilateral Relations:
12. President Jonathan thanked Prime Minister Simpson Miller for the warm hospitality extended to him and his delegation and expressed particular appreciation of the honour accorded to him to address the Special Commemorative Joint Session of Parliament held on Thursday, 2nd August 2012.

13. In reviewing the state of bilateral relations, Prime Minister Simpson Miller and President Jonathan discussed the resumption of the Nigerian Technical Aids Corps Programme (TAC), under which Nigerian Professionals had, in the past, been deployed to Jamaica to share their know-how and expertise in fields such as nursing, education and woodcarving. Nigerians had also benefitted from training in Tourism in Jamaica, under this Programme.

14. President Jonathan and Prime Minister Simpson Miller expressed concern over the status of Jamaica-Nigeria Technical Cooperation in Oil, as the Jamaica-Nigeria Oil Facility had been suspended. They agreed that both countries would explore cooperation in this area once more, as well as in the supply of Liquefied Natural Gas (LNG).

15. President Jonathan and Prime Minister Simpson Miller acknowledged the need for further attention to be given to the Jamaica-Nigeria Bilateral Air Services Agreement. The Agreement would enable Jamaica to serve as a gateway for Nigeria and Africa into the wider Caribbean region as well as a hub for goods and services.

16. The existence of an Agreement on Cultural and Educational Cooperation between both countries was also highlighted. In view of the great cultural affinity between Jamaica and Nigeria, it was agreed that cultural and educational exchanges between both countries, should be revived. A cultural exchange involving the performance of musical artistes from both countries, in music festivals in Jamaica and Nigeria, was one such area identified for possible collaboration.

17. President Jonathan noted that the Calabar High School in Jamaica, which took its name from the Port of Calabar in Nigeria, was older than modern Nigeria itself. He looked forward to Nigeria's participation in the school's centenary celebrations through the Nigerian High Commissioner in Kingston.

18. President Jonathan outlined the plans to celebrate the 100th Anniversary of the formation of modern Nigeria in 2014 and noted that this would be a yearlong series of heritage events at which Jamaica's participation would be welcomed.

19. An invitation was extended from President Jonathan to Prime Minister Simpson Miller, for her to visit Nigeria in 2014 for the centenary of the formation of modern Nigeria. The invitation was accepted by the Prime Minister.

20. In view of Jamaica's sterling reputation in sports and the significant role that sports could play in the attainment of peace and development, cooperation between both countries in this field, including the exchanges of best practices, was discussed.

21. Noting the existence of a healthy, multifaceted business environment in both countries, both leaders discussed the possible formation of a Jamaica-Nigeria Business Forum to explore opportunities for greater investment, trade and business linkages between both countries.

22. With regard to the Jamaica-Nigeria Joint Commission, it was noted that Jamaica had hosted two Joint Commissions and that another would soon be due. Prime Minister Simpson Miller and President Jonathan discussed the option of Jamaica again hosting the next Joint Commission meeting.

23. Both sides agreed on the desirability of greater parliamentary contact between the two countries and looked forward to exchanges between the Parliaments of Kingston and Abuja.

24. Prime Minister Simpson Miller expressed Jamaica's satisfaction at having participated in the First African Global Diaspora Summit, in May 2012 in Johannesburg. She referred to the Summit's deliberations on the role the African Diaspora could play in the economic advancement of Africa and its Diaspora.

International Issues:
25. Prime Minister Simpson Miller noted that Jamaica and Nigeria enjoy excellent relations in the international sphere. Both countries share membership of the Commonwealth and cooperation in various other international fora, including the United Nations, the African Caribbean and Pacific Group, the G-77 & China and the G-90 at the World Trade Organization. They underlined the need for the Commonwealth and other international groupings to promote the economic interests of developing countries and emphasized the impact that developing countries could have in these fora through greater unity and collaboration.

26. Prime Minister Simpson Miller spoke to the need for reform of the UN Security Council so as to create a more democratic, representative and transparent institution. She pointed to the need for permanent representation from other regions, including Africa and Latin America and the Caribbean and noted the aspiration of African countries such as Nigeria, in having a permanent seat on the UN Security Council.

27. Prime Minister Simpson Miller congratulated Nigeria on its successful candidature to the African Union, for the prestigious post of Commissioner for Political Affairs, noting the importance of the AU for the development, peace and security of the African continent.

28. Following their discussions, the President and the Most Honourable Prime Minister participated in a joint press briefing.

29. During President Jonathan's visit, he also attended a luncheon hosted in his honour, by the Governor General at King's House.

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