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Meet Comrade Godswill Doubra Wuruyai, A Willing Ijaw Youth To Man The IYC National Secretariat

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Comrade Godswill Doubra Wuruyai who hails from Benikrukru and Okerenkoko communities of Gbaramatu Kingdom, Warri South West LocalGovernment Area of Delta State, is a tactful, brilliant and brave personality who was born and raised at Okpele-Ama/Tebujoh community at the creeks of the Niger Delta. He is a stable character who is aware and involve in solving the challenges of the Niger Delta people in his capacity.

In 2019, he obtained his Masters of Arts Degree in Peace and Conflict Studies from the premier University of Ibadan and specialized in Internal Conflicts. With Master of Arts in-view Philosophy at the prestigious University of Benin, Doubra obtained his Bachelors of Arts Degree in Philosophy at Niger Delta University, Wilberforce Island, Bayelsa State. In his love for education and yearn to obtain professional height in peace-building and conflict management, Comr. Doubra in 2018, was trained by the Society for Peace Studies and Practice (SPSP) and was certified with a certificate on Conflict Analysis, Project Design and Management. By the virtue of his studies and practice, he is tooled with professional negotiation skills, excellent report writing and presentation abilities and a scholar of community development. In his interest to understand both the internal and external challenges of the Niger Delta region, his Masters dissertation was titled “Politics of Mobilisation and Decision-making for Community Development in Ogulagha Kingdom of Delta State Nigeria” where he critically interrogate the various dynamics that negatively and positively influence sustainable development in Niger Delta communities.

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From 2015—2016 he obtained his NYSC certificate haven completed his service year at Model Girls College, Rumueme, Port Harcourt. Comr. Doubra was trained in 2017 by J.D.FOH Development Foundation/IWAI in Collaboration with Shedrack Agediga Foundation and obtained Certificate of Participation in Leadership and Conflict Management. While in 2008 he obtained his West African Senior School Certificate, Comr. Doubra attended and obtained his Primary School Leaving Certificate at Okpele Primary School, Okpele-Ama, Gbaramatu Kingdom.

READ ALSO: Wuruyai Rolls Out Innovative Manifestoes As He Eyes IYC Secretary-General’s Office

Comr. Doubra has a significant and unwavering touch with the grass root of the Niger Delta, and has consistently offer himself to be part of the process to better the lots of humanity in the region. He has served in various capacities which include his current position as the Chairman, Ijaw Youth Council, Gbaramatu Kingdom Structure. Being an active member of the Ijaw Youth Council, from 2014—2017, Comr. Doubra served as the Information Officer, IYC, Gbaramatu Kingdom Structure where he performed remarkably well. In the cause of his services at the clan level, Comr. Doubra and his team led several protests in defense of Ijaw people’s interest both on print and online media outlets. A simple Google search of his name will unveil the numerous advocacy he has made for Ijaw people. From 2017—2019, due to his activeness in youth mobilization in the political scene in Gbaramatu Kingdom, Comr. Doubra was nominated and appointed by the Delta State Government as a Ward Liaison Officer.

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Comrade Godswill Doubra Wuruyai, vying for the position of secretary, Ijaw Youth Council, worldwide

Comr. Doubra has served at various capacities during and after the cause of his studies. Notable among them are in 2015, he served as the Secretary to the Constitution Amendment Committee, National Association of Gbaramatu Students (NAGS), wherein he delivered as expected; in 2014, he served as the Chairman of NAGS Electoral Committee. He is currently a member representing the IYC, Gbaramatu Kingdom Structure in the Gbaramatu Youth Council Constitution Amendment Committee under the leadership of Barr. Samson Bebenimibo. While in NDU, Comr. Doubra was a household name in the Student Union politics, and served in various capacities in that respect. Notable among them are, he was the Vice President, Department of Philosophy and Religious Studies; Secretary, Electoral Committee, Faculty of Arts; Public Relations Officer, Electoral Committee, Faculty of Arts; member Electoral Committee, NADESSTU, NDU Chapter to mention but few.

READ ALSO:Father Of Six Kills Self Over Alleged Infidelity In Delta

In all these position he held, Comr Doubra was credited for his brilliant representation and was awarded by the National Association of Philosophy/Religious Studies Students (NAPS/NARSS) in 2013/2014 as the Most Articulate Comrade. Comr Doubra has recognized in several quarters for both his intellectual prowess and diligent service to humanity. Noteworthy, in 2017, he won the Godfrey Pondi Book Club book review competition on Lee Quan Yew’s book titled “From Third World to First: Singapore and the Asian Economic Boom” which was presented to him by the then Hon. Commission for Education,ⁿ Hon. Dr. Jude Seneibe. In same 2017, he was also recognized by the National Association of Gbaramatu Students with an Education Service Award for his “consistent selfless service in support of education and development of Humanity in Gbaramatu Kingdom, inspiring and mentoring the Gbaramatu Child”.

Comr. Doubra conveniently blends with the dynamics of human society without any discrimination and freely interacts with people across ethnic and religious dynamics with a firm understanding on the values and focus of Ijaw nation as she gear towards completely achieving her full potentials through self Determination and Resource Control as enshrined in the Kaiama Declaration. Comr. Doubra seeks to ensure a policy generating Ijaw Youth Council Secretariat which will gradually be an institutionalized Council and strengthen its various organs and chains of command through a collective decision-making process.

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READ ALSO: ‘We Will Not Fold Arms And Watch Nigerians Rights Being Violated’ – NHRC

Why don’t Ijaw youths look toward his direction for the position of the National Secretary, Ijaw Youth Council Worldwide?

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OPINION: Nigeria’s Democracy On Life Support

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Suyi Ayodele

In chapter one of their 2018 book, “How Democracies Die”, Steven Levistsky and Daniel Ziblatt, both professors of Political Science, Harvard University, USA, gave an anecdote of how elected leaders can subvert democracy and increase personal power. The book, which is described as “comparative politics”, narrates how people, all over the world, give out their liberties to tyrants, who disguise themselves as democrats and helpers. The tale, which opens the chapter titled, “Fateful Alliances”, is adapted from an Aesop’s Fable tagged: “The Horse, the Stag and the Hunter”. It goes thus: “A quarrel had arisen between the Horse and the Stag, so the Horse came to a Hunter to ask his help to take revenge on the Stag. The Hunter agreed, but said: “If you desire to conquer the Stag, you must permit me to place this piece of iron between your jaws, so that I may guide you with these reins, and allow this saddle to be placed upon your back so that I may keep steady upon you as we follow after the enemy.” The Horse agreed to the conditions, and the Hunter soon saddled and bridled him. Then with the aid of the Hunter the Horse soon overcame the Stag, and said to the Hunter: “Now, get off, and remove those things from my mouth and back.” “Not so fast, friend,” said the Hunter. “I have now got you under bit and spur, and prefer to keep you as you are at present”. This is exactly what Nigerians did in 2015, when they sold the PDP monkey because it had an uncanny penchant for squatting too much and used the proceeds to buy the APC dog, which has turned out to be the greatest squatter of all animals. 2023 is around the corner and we are asking the APC to get its cancers off our already bedraggled body. The response from the ‘ruining’ party is what the Hunter told the Stag.

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When a diviner tells his client what the oracle reveals about his (client’s) future and the predictions come to pass almost immediately, he beats his chest and says : “a iti ko Ifa nile, Ifa nse” (we have not even packed the divination objects and the prophecies are being fulfilled). A week ago on this page, in a piece titled, “The No-Choice Before Nigerians”, an analysis of the two leading presidential candidates for the 2023 general election, I wrote inter alia: “In the long run, whoever becomes the president between the two candidates will be the one who can outspend the other; and not the one who is more competent, patriotic or loves the masses”. Exactly five days after the piece was published (June 14, 2022), Ekiti State had its governorship election. In the history of political perfidy in Nigeria, never has the nation witnessed the brazen display of vote buying that characterised the June 18, 2022 Ekiti guber election. At the end of the charade, the ruling APC candidate in the election was declared winner with 187, 057 votes, beating the new party, SDP, to a distant second position with 82,211 votes and the self-destroyed PDP to an embarrassing third position with 67,457 votes. What played out in Ekiti is not a case of the most popular candidate or party winning the election but a case of the “richest” candidate or party succeeding in buying the voters. The beauty of it all is that no one among the three leading political parties or their candidates and supporters can swear that they did not offer money for votes while the election lasted.

FROM THE AUTHOR: OPINION: Wike, Tambuwal And Lessons For Southern Politicians

What happened in Ekiti is a new dimension in our democratic journey as a nation. The event is therefore not only sad for Ekiti people, who hitherto, were regarded as men and women of honour, but for Nigerians in general. Morning, they say, shows the night. Another round of guber election will happen in Osun State in a few weeks’ time. Nobody needs a seer to reveal what should be expected. And without looking at the crystal ball, one can easily predict, off hand, that the 2023 general election will be worse than anything we have hitherto seen. This trend is more troubling given the fact that the bad behaviour is assuming a monstrous dimension under the APC, a party which Nigerians invested their goodwill on in 2015 with the hope that it would bring about decency and hope as opposed to the political roguery the PDP foisted on the nation while in power. The reality confronting all of us now is that the APC-led government of General Muhammadu Buhari has suffocated the very sick baby we asked it to nurse back to health. How unfortunate! But the APC leadership is not to be blamed, totally, for the very mess we find ourselves in today.

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No, APC did not start the idea of vote buying. As a matter of fact, vote buying is not a native of Nigeria. In yet another seminar book, the American author and lawyer, Mark Joseph Green, in “Losing Our Democracy: How Bush, the Far Right and Big Business Are Betraying Americans” (2006), on page 21 writes: “The evidence that money shouts in politics is mountainous: 94 percent of the time, the bigger-spending congregational candidate wins and 98 percent of House incumbents win. The average price of a House seat rose ten-fold from $87,000 in 1976 to $840,000 in 2000. Spending in the last New York and Pennsylvania gubernatorial elections, for example, tripled within one election cycle. It cost Ken Livingstone 80 cents a vote to win the London mayoralty in 2001, compared with Michael Bloomberg’s $100 a vote in New York City that year”. Green, in this analysis sub-titled: “The Evil of Access: Money and Members”, compared what Democratic and the Republican parties do with voters’ conscience on election days. He posits that “money primarily weeds out good candidates”, and that “as more and more multimillionaires run and win…the pressure to hustle special-interest money becomes even more intense”. In all the postulations by Green and the two earlier quoted authors, the American democratic values diminished a great deal when characters like George Bush and Donald Trump were allowed to access power. Levistsky and Ziblatt, after analysing how coups d’état have accounted for nearly three out of every four democratic breakdowns, submit that “Democracies may die at the hands not of generals but of elected leaders- presidents or prime ministers- who subvert the very process that brought them to power. Some of these leaders dismantle democracies quickly as Hitler did in the wake of the 1933 Reichstag fire in Germany…”.

Could all the three authors have had Buhari’s APC and its corrosive democratic tendencies in mind when they wrote the books above? Which of the vices the PDP was accused of perpetrating before it was shipped out of power has the APC not taken to a more brazen level today? When the late President Umaru Musa Yar’Adua won the 2007 election, he admitted publicly that the election was marred by many irregularities and immediately began the process of reforming the nation’s electoral process to forestall a repeat of such irregularities. At his passing, President Goodluck Ebele Jonathan, who took over from him, dusted the books and reformed the electoral process such that in 2015, he lost the presidential election to the incumbent General Buhari. Hardly had the opposition APC took over power, it introduced a new lexicon to our political lexicography by declaring, glaringly won elections inconclusive in Kogi, Osun, Adamawa, Bauchi, Benue, Kano, Plateau, and Sokoto states at different times. The shameless attitude is such that anywhere where the APC appears to be losing grounds, the election will be declared inconclusive such that at the isolated elections held to “conclude” the polls, its candidates must win. That perfidy has now been perfected and modified to outright purchase of voters and their ballots. Whatever the PDP thought to be its “winning strategy” has now been taken to the next level by the seemingly redeeming APC and the people are worse for it.

For the first time in my life, I felt ashamed to be an Ekiti man after the last Saturday election. I have since made countless calls to relations, friends and some community leaders to find out what happened and how the honour we used to treasure in Ekiti took sudden flight on Saturday. Of all the responses, the one that keeps ringing in my ears is the folksong by an elderly fellow. In response to my question on how our people did not consider the future of their children before collecting money to vote, the elderly fellow sang: “E si umole bi ebi, ebi yoo paniyan ku o” (meaning: there is no deity like hunger, hunger kills a person). In summary, when people are hungry, they do despicable things. If indeed Ekiti people are that hungry such that they would collect as low as N10,000, and in some cases, N3,000 and even N500 to sell their votes to the various political parties, did they ask what brought about the hunger? If a government is accused of impoverishing the masses and the same government puts forward a candidate and backs him up with cash and the people go ahead to sell their votes, who is to blame? That should make an average rational mind to be worried. If Ekiti people with their claims to education, integrity and honour could be so cheap on election day, what happens to the Almajiri population of Kano, Jigawa, Bauchi, Adamawa and other northern states? What does the Ekiti election portend for the 2023 general elections? What lessons are the candidates for next year’s elections taking home from what happened in Ekiti? If a gubernatorial vote sold for N10, 000 in downtown Ekiti in 2022, how much is the presidential vote going to cost in Abuja, Lagos, Port Harcourt, Kaduna, Kano, Ilorin, Ibadan, Owerri, Aba and Umuahia in 2023? And you may wish to ask: where is this humongous war chest coming from?

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FROM THE AUTHOR: OPINION: Deborah, Ignorance And The North

The above scenario has far reaching implications for our democracy. Men of honour without money will stay away from our ballots! What happened in Ekiti on Saturday and what will surely happen in Osun State in the next few weeks will ensure that at the end of the day, our democracy will be on oxygen till the 2023 general election when it will suffer an irredeemable cardiac arrest which will eventually hand its cadaver to future generations for scientific studies on how not to run a democracy. Democracy dies when talented people and those with natural administrative ingenuity stop contesting elections because they don’t have the financial wherewithal to compete with moneybags who own mountains of ill-gotten wealth to buy votes. The ‘ruining’ elites are sustaining the poverty conundrum against the citizenry so that they will not be self-sufficient enough to resist the pittances offered them on election days in exchange for what could have been a viable future for them and their innocent offspring who would have nothing to inherit other than their progenitors’ poverty. What the current plague of locusts who call themselves our political leaders have told the masses through massive vote buying is that it is not wrong for their cats to eat pregnant rats. Nothing kills democracy more than that!

Suyi Ayodele is the a senior journalist, South-South/South-East Editor, Nigerian Tribune and a columnist with the same newspaper.

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OPINION: Tinubu’s Karma And Osinbajo’s Ingratitude (2)

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Tunde Odesola

Until a combination of punches breaks the jaw and smashes the face into a massive mess, the fleet-footed boxer shuffles on confidence and charisma.

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Like the hyped June 27, 1988 heavyweight superfight in which Iron Mike Tyson demolished Michael Spinks in just 91 seconds, the hyped June 7, 2022 All Progressives Congress presidential primary in Abuja, similarly ended in a humiliating defeat for Vice President Yemi Osinbajo.

Before I proceed any further, I must apologise to my readers for not concluding this two-part article last Monday due to unforeseen circumstances. Gladly, the one-week hiatus has provided me with the opportunity to view the APC delegate primary election through a multidimensional prism of insight, foresight and hindsight.

Armed with the benefit of hindsight, saddened by the failed outcome of the presidential primary, and faced with a gloomy political future, I’m almost certain the vice president would today wish for three things: to turn back the hands of time, remain unblemished and not to have contested against Tinubu.

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Uncle Yemi lulé
At the end of hostilities, Osinbajo, despite an eloquent political speech and the trademark Awo cap on his silvern head, scored a scanty 235 votes against the staggering 1, 271 votes polled by his former boss and godfather, Asiwaju Bola Tinubu, whose symbolic cap, since 1999, bears broken chains signifying freedom whereas governance in Lagos, nay Nigeria remains perpetually shackled with unbroken chains.

Shockingly, the erudite vice president also fell face-down yakata at the feet of a former Transport Minister, Rotimi Amaechi, who got 316 votes just as Senate President, Ahmad Lawan, got 152 votes, trailing Osinbajo with 83 votes.

FROM THE AUTHOR: OPINION: Tinubu’s Karma And Osinbajo’s Ingratitude (1)

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Luck is what happens when preparation meets opportunity, says Roman philosopher, Lucius Annaeus Seneca. Verily, the APC presidential primary has come and gone, but long-lasting scars, suspicion and regrets persist.

Shortly after the vice president contested and crashed at the primary, Dolapo, his wife, tried to assuage the pain of defeat in an Instagram post to her husband, calling him, “Oluyemi, Oluleke, Omoluabi, Omo oko, Oninu re, Oniwa pele, Oniwa tutu, Ologbon, Olododo, Alaanu,” and added, “I’m proud of you.” I’m very proud of ‘Deputy Olule’, too.

The law professor wasn’t only roundly beaten, the senior pastor stands the risk of his name going down in the book of political oblivion for committing the commonest ‘sin’ in Nigerian politics – challenging a godfather, and being politically naive not to throw in the towel when a dirge was being sung for the failed ‘palace coup’.

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And every man is the architect of his own fortune. During my undergraduate days in the late 1980s, I returned home from school one day and quickly headed to a friend’s house nearby. Lanre Akintunde is the name of my friend. He’s currently a lawyer based in Lagos.

Back in the day, the Akintundes’ three-bedroomed flat along the Old Ota Road, Orile Agege, Lagos State, was a rendezvous for boys in the hood to engage in mischievous things when Lanre’s hard-working parent, the late Alhaja Wosilat, a single mother, was away to work.

On that particular day at the Akintundes’ ever bubbly house, I met some friends who were yet to gain admission into tertiary schools. They began to talk in low tones as soon as I walked in, indicative that they were keeping a secret. I left the house soon afterwards and never inquired to know the secret. But I had a hunch the whispers were about the ongoing school certificate examination.

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A few weeks later, the bubble burst and the dam broke. So, they came to my house to tell me what Messiah did. One of them, Laja, (not real name) narrated their ordeal: “A white-garment church prophet in Oko Oba area of Agege has swindled us, Tunde. The prophet, popularly called Messiah, promised us resounding success in our WAEC. He said we didn’t need to read, that we were going to see a hand, which would be invisible to others, writing correct answers on the chalkboard. He gave us white handkerchiefs to wipe our faces during the exams. He also gave us spiritual pens.

FROM THE AUTHOR: OPINION: Deborah’s Blood Stains APC Presidential Form (1)

He said if we didn’t see the invisible hand writing on the chalkboard because of our sins, angels would go and fetch our answer scripts from WAEC and write correct answers for us.”

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The narrator, who is a multimillionaire today, scored ‘F9 parallel’ in the exam. ‘F9 parallel’ was a jocular term for undiluted failure when the student couldn’t record an ordinary pass, let alone a credit. Incidentally, however, all the victims of Messiah are today successful family men.

The fate that befell my friends was similar to the fate that befell the vice president, who waited in vain for Buhari to favourably deal his mighty hand in battle, and make the sun stand still at the Eagle Square, but night fell and darkness engulfed Osinbajo, his popcorn and ice cream while victory song broke out in Tinubu’s camp.

While serious students burnt the midnight oil, my friends didn’t. While Tinubu held his destiny in his hands and strategised, Osinbajo, the purported anointed candidate of Buhari, expected the President to announce him as consensus candidate. Even God helps those who help themselves.

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For Osinbajo, the unending human traffic to his office would soon dwindle, calls to his ever-busy lines would reduce, and the charm that power imbues would fade off gradually like the moon disappearing behind the clouds on its way back to the East at dawn. Sadly, Osinbajo’s name, not his backers’, would be mentioned whenever a lesson in godfather-godson tussle is taught in Nigeria. It is what it is.

As the value of Osinbajo’s stocks depreciates in the dusk of Buhari’s administration, those of Tinubu would appreciate as the APC prepares for the 2023 general election. The lionet will take backstage for the lion to roar on centrestage.

Profiting from the power of insight and foresight, I wouldn’t contest the APC presidential ticket with Tinubu, if I were Osinbajo, for the simple reasons that he brought me from classroom to stateroom, from relative obscurity to stardom, from middle class to upper class.

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During the build-up to the primary, Tinubu was called greedy, very well; but I’m yet to see any Nigerian politician whose bank deposit, after their tenure, remained the same it was when they assumed public office. There’s a Tinubu in every Nigerian politician. A certain Baptist politician who allegedly had less than N20,000 in his account before assuming power, retired into a life of opulence.

Osinbajo supporters vehemently pinned corruption on Tinubu, but the apple doesn’t fall far from the tree. If someone’s been eating from Tinubu’s largesse in the past 23 years, and never complained about his excesses, you must be unhinged to suddenly wake up and accuse him of corruption because the biggest cake in the land is up for grabs, and you have a stake in it.

FROM THE AUTHOR: OPINION: Deborah’s Blood Stains APC Presidential Form (1)

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I believe Tinubu never helped those he ever helped for altruistic reasons, but for his own selfish political reasons. That’s not good. However, it’s also sickening for latter-day turncoats of Tinubu empire, who cheered while Jagaban dispensed positions and favours their way, to now cry foul when the Landlord of Lagos decides to spread his prebendal favours elsewhere.

Since the owner of bullion vans, Tinubu, who lives in Bourdillon, laid the issue of who nominated Osinbajo as vice president to rest, nobody has come forward to contradict him. I had wondered how anyone in their right senses would say Osinbajo was picked as vice president without the knowledge of Tinubu.

I also heard the argument that Osinbajo added value to Tinubu, and I agree. But Osinbajo wasn’t the best graduating law student in his undergraduate set, neither was he the professor with the highest ResearchGate score or citation in UNILAG before Tinubu handpicked him in 1999. When Tinubu nominated him above Yemi Cardoso and Wale Edun as vice president, it was for self-preservation, and not to come and topple the applecart.

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Birds of a feather, they say, flock together.

Concluded.

Email: tundeodes2003@yahoo.com
Facebook: @tunde odesola
Twitter: @tunde_odesola

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OPINION: Oil Spill And Ikarama Paradox

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By Nnimmo Bassey

There are communities in the Niger Delta that would compete to have the dubious notoriety of being the oil spills capital of the world due to the regularity of oil spill incidents they experience. Ikarama community in Yenagoa Local Government Area of Bayelsa State is one of such communities. A major community in the Okordia clan, it is also well known for her location on a road that forks off the East- West Highway at Zarama where the highway crosses the Taylor Creek. Travelers on this highway regularly have to squeeze their way through the colourful, massive and boisterous Zarama market that emerges at this intersection on Fridays.

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It is a day when traders and farmers in communities within the region bring their wares and produce for sale to buyers who come from far and near to buy yams, plantains and bananas, cassava products, vegetables, meat, seafood and an assortment of imported goods. The market is so massive that and speaks out on the highway that it literally takes up one wing of the bridge that straddles the Taylor Creek at this point. The colourful umbrellas under which business is transacted here is a sight to behold. But it doesn’t give any hint of the oil pollution that swirls in the swamps and creeks beyond.

Before the advent of oil exploitation activities at Ikarama it was a community that was fertile both for fishing and for farming. It’s location in the Bayelsa National Forest marked it out as a custodian of a rich biodiversity. The benevolence of nature has been brutally threatened by oil over the past decades.

When oil spill is mentioned within Okordia clan in Yenagoa local government area of Bayelsa State, Ikarama and neighbouring communities including Joinkarama readily come to the mind of anyone familiar with the history of oil spill incidents in that axis of the Niger Delta. Ikarama community is host to Shell’s Okordia manifold, oil wells and pipelines owned and operated by the Nigerian Agip Oil Company (NAOC).

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Reports of oil spill incidents are as numerous as they are disturbing. At a visit to an area impacted by oil spills in the community way back in 2014, it was amazing to see that those who pretended to have cleaned up the spill had merely turned the soil over to cover up, not clean up, the pollution. The grass over the area shone from the stubborn oily sheen that refused to be hidden and the fumes in the air was so thick residents whose houses were close by had to relocated for safety reasons. I was accompanied on that visit by Alagoa Morris, the ace monitor of the despoliation of the Niger Dekta environment and Jay Naidoo, an African elder, activist and politician, who was the founding Secretary General of the Congress of South African Trade Unions (COSATU), and later on a minister in the government of President Nelson Mandela of South Africa. Naidoo went on to reference the ecocide in Ikarama in his excellent book, Change: Organising Tomorrow Today.

READ ALSO: OPINION: Learning From The Wise

Naidoo was shocked by what he saw at Ikarama, Rumuekpe and Ogoni. He wrote in his book that rather than paralyzing him, what he saw made him determine to do something to help restore the land to the rightful owners, the people who work with their bare hands and only take from nature what she yields to them. He continues in that struggle to this day by organizing and by mentoring young people as a key knowledge holder on our continent.

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My last visit here may have been in 2014, but I have studiously followed the pollution trajectory here from way back to in 2007. And that is why I am returning to Ikarama today, 8 years after.

A major incident occurred in February 2018 when a resident was hit by the pungent smell of crude oil, and the sound of spraying liquid, on his way to farm. That spill was traced by the Joint Inspection Visit (JIV) to have resulted from what is termed “third party interference.” The response to this incident was brutal as officials of the Civil Defense Corps descended on the community in the wee hours of one morning, shot a youth in the hand and on both legs, and arrested and took away a lady in lieu of her husband, a logger, who was away in the forest at that time.

Mr Udoki Orukori, the arrested woman’s husband told reporters then that he did not know where his wife had been taken to. “I was informed it was Civil Defense (that arrested her). For now I don’t have money, so there is no access for me to go after her.” Mr Orukori’s extreme exposure and helplessness illustrates the state of affairs of community people all over the Niger Delta who have to confront multiple security forces in the murky waters of the region and in the murkier business of securing oil and gas facilities.

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Before the February 2018 incident, the last observed spill in the community was recorded two years earlier and that one was attributed to Shell’s equipment failure. From that month the incidents of spills resumed with the regularity of a tom tom.

There was another major oil spill here in the evening of 11th June 2018 at Shell’s Okordia Manifold. That spill spread to neighbouring Kalaba community. The cleanup of the spill was slow and ineffective and over subsequent months the swamps remained heavily impacted with ensuing floods further compounding its impact and spread.

Although both Shell and ENI have a fair share of spills here, a majority of the pollution incidents have occurred from facilities of SPDC, notably from the Adibawa/Okodia delivery line, Okodia/Rumuekpe pipeline and Okordia Manifold. And most of the oil spills have occurred close to residential buildings, farms and farmlands raiding serious concerns about locating oil extraction facilities and activities within communities.

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Expectedly, community persons have been experiencing diminishing returns from their fishing and farming endeavours, besides the onerous health impact of living in a highly toxic environment.

Chief (Mrs) Ayibakuro Warder, a community woman in Ikarama, told environmental monitors in August 2021, ‘’Our crops don’t do well again, particularly the cassava and plantains. They die off after planting and we have to replant repeatedly. Tuber plants like cassava and yams no longer yield like in the past. The yams rot away before harvest. We feel this could be as a result of crude oil in the environment as oil spill impacted sites are not properly cleaned up and remediated. We have not been experiencing this before now. Sometimes, in some areas of our farmlands, as we till the soil we see crude oil. That is what we are contending with and, as fisher folks and farmers, this is a threat to our means of livelihood and health.’’

The story has not changed. When Benjamin Warder tried to construct fish ponds in March 2021 and again
In April 2022, he was greeted by crude oil oozing from the swamp. According to Mr Warder:

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“In March last 202 I brought an excavator to prepare a fish pond for me. What I saw was quite unfortunate. I saw crude oil coming out from the ground. I raised alarm by informing the Environmental Rights Action/ Friends of the Earth Nigeria’s Alagoa Morris. Thereafter NOSDRA, Shell and ERA came and some spots in this environment were dug. And it was very glaring that crude oil was coming out from the ground. As a community person, I felt that since even the multinational oil company had come here to witness crude oil coming out from the ground they would come back to carry out soil tests in the entire environment and carry out proper remediation of the environment. But unfortunately, since August last year till now, nothing has been seen or heard about it from SPDC [Shell Petroleum Development Company]. That notwithstanding, I decided to try and invest again this year and brought an excavator on 26th April, 2022. And you know the heavy cost of bringing a Swamp buggy down here from Yenagoa; it is expensive. And when we excavated this time, what we saw was worse than the one of 2021.”

The depth of the environmental destruction at Ikarama and adjoining communities is so extensive that it cannot continue to be covered up or ignored. The people have borne the burden of irresponsible environmental despoliation by oil companies and other entities and this must be stopped. First the oil companies must change their horrendous habit of not adequately monitoring and securing their pipelines, and their futile efforts at covering up or underreporting oil spills. They must review and adequately clean up and restore the environment wherever oil spills have occurred over the years. The UNEP report on the assessment of Ogoni environment clearly exposed the false claims of cleanups by the oil majors.

READ ALSO: [OPINION] Nigeria’s Contaminated Fuel And Adulterated Leadership

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This is the time for government and the oil majors to take immediate steps to commence an environmental and health audit of Ikarama and the entire Niger Delta and commence a thorough cleanup of the entire region. Funds for this endeavour should be deposited in a dedicated account for this purpose. No entity must be allowed to divest without first making reparations for their ecological transgressions. Anything less is to deny the people their right to live and flourish in their land. Remaining deprived, neglected and poisoned in an environment that nature has so well endowed is a paradox that Ikarama must be spared.

Nnimmo Bassey is an environmental activist and Director, Home of Mothet Earth Foundation (HOMEF)

 

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