Monday, October 11, 2004

Resolutions of the First Urhobo Economic Summit

Resolutions of the First Urhobo Economic Summit

The first Urhobo Economic Summit organised by the Urhobo Foundation took place on the 27th and 28th November 1998. The theme of the summit was "Forty Years of ol and gas". The total value of oil produced in Urhoboland to date amounts to over $25.7 billion with little or nothing to show for it. The summit notes the continued degradation of the environment and the marginalisation of the Urhobos in all spheres of the nations economic and political life after 40 years of oil and gas exploitation in Urhoboland and calls for an immediate halt by addressing the following:

IJERHE (JESSE) FIRE DISASTER

The summit calls on the Federal Government to immortalise the souls of the 1,063 Nigerian lives lost during the inferno by building a specialist hospital as a national monument at the site of the disaster. The Summit notes that oil is still leaking at Jesse and other points along the line of the 20 year old pipeline.

OBJECTIONAL LEGISLATION

The summit notes the existence of severap petroleum leglistative instruments promulgated to strangulate the oil producing areas. Such leglislation include the Land Use Decree of 1978, the Interpreation Act of 1964, the Constitution of 19779 and the Petroleum Act of 1969. The PTF should be abolished, The OMPADEC decree should also be replaced with legislation giving the oil producing areas the right of exploitation and utilization of all resources in their territory and the responsibilty for the development and environmental protection of their ancestral lands.

DERIVATION

The Summit notes with great concern the economic enslavement of the oil producing areas through the massive reduction of the application of the principles of derivation from 100% to 50% and further to 45% in 1970. Between 1971 and 1985, derivation principle was removed by the Okigbo Commission. Following wide spread protest and discontent derivation which was 1.5% was increased to 30% in 1990 and the constitutional conference of 1995 recommends 13%. The Summit wishes to replace the principle of derivation, with complete ownership and control of oil and gas wealth in our domain as the only way out of 40 years of marginalisation and deprivation.

EMPLOYMENT TRAINING AND ENTREPRENURSHIP

The Summit notes the systematic and complete take over of all facets of the oil industry by three majority ethnic groups in the country who do not produce oil, and also do not suffer the environmental degradation resulting from oil exploration. The Summit calls for immediate and unconditional implementation of the Federal Government Policy which restricts employment of non-skilled labour entirely to indigenes of oil producing areas and 70% of skilled labour also to indigenes. The Summit also calls on Shell to implement fully its June 1994 policy in indigenous contrators and employment as well as increase the scholarship award to indigenes in the oil producing areas. The Summit calls on all Oil Compnaies to establish an "Indigenes REcruitment Centre" to counter the use by other ethnic groups of the advantage of NYSC posting.

THE OIL COMPANIES

The Summit notes that the oil companies are paying lip service to the issue of envirnmental polilution and degradation and in collaboration with the Government have created opportunities for disunity among ethnic grouops in the oil producing areas. The oil companies have been interested in hand outs and not partnership. The situation in Ogoni and Ijaw lands is a signal to the Government and the oil companies about the urgent need to redress the marginalisation of the oil companies to work out a "Marshall Plan" for the immediate development of the Niger Delta oil producing communities comprising 9 states out of the 36 but producing 80% of the total Government revenue and 95% of foreign exchange revenue.

URHOBO LANGUAGE

The Summit notes that with the massive environmental degradation, the loss of traditional occupations of the people and the discrimination in employment and contracts many Urhobos have migrated to other urban centres leading to the abandonment of the Urhobo language and culture. The Summit recommends the immeidate establishment of Urhobo Language Centers.

CONCLUSION

The Summit recognise the convergence of the desires and grievances of all communities in the oil producing areas of the Niger Delta. Any development that benefits any area will always similarily impinge on other neighbours. Therefore, there is the need for a focus on the real issues and full cooperation to avoid conflict amongst ourselves. Working together is the only way that we can achive these mutual and lasting goals.

Exceprts from the Resolutions of the First Urhobo Economic Summit

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