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ideas have consequences

You are here:Home>>Stevie C. Chiakwelu>>Displaying items by tag: US
Displaying items by tag: US

A new nation is born in Africa

With these words, "We, the democratically elected representatives of the people, based on the will of the people of South Sudan, and as confirmed by the outcome of the referendum of self-determination, hereby declare South Sudan to be an independent and sovereign nation," James Wani Igga the South Sudan’s parliament speaker on Saturday announced and proclaimed the Independence of a new country in Africa.

The news network AFP reported the following from Juba, Souhern Sudan:

"The independence declaration was read out in front of dozens of heads of state, including Sudanese President Omar al-Bashir, and foreign dignitaries as well as tens of thousands of cheering southerners. South Sudan’s national flag was then raised, to wild applause, tears and song.

"We shall never, never surrender," the crowd chanted, as people whistled and wiped tears from their eyes."I should cry for the recognition of this flag among the flags of the world," shouted one tearful man. "We have been denied our rights. Today, no more shall that happen," he added.

The declaration affirmed the new state’s democratic and multi-ethnic and multi-confessional character, and its commitment to friendly relations with all countries "including the Republic of Sudan", Igga said.

The parliament speaker said that as a "strategic priority," South Sudan would seek admission to the United Nations, the African Union, the east African bloc IGAD and other international bodies.

Southern leader Salva Kiir then signed the transitional constitution and took the oath of office as the new state’s first president, swearing to "foster the development and welfare of the people of South Sudan."

Kenya’s President Mwai Kibaki, the first foreign dignitary to speak, declared that his country "fully recognises" South Sudan.

Southern Sudanese celebrate their first independence day in the capital city of Juba on Saturday, July 9, 2011. The southern Sudanese opted for secession during a popular referendum in January 2011. Saturday's declaration and recognition makes the Republic of South Sudan the world's 193rd country.AP

Egypt, another key regional power, also officially recognised the Republic of South Sudan, Foreign Minister Mohammed al-Oraby said on his arrival in Juba for the celebrations, the official MENA news agency reported.

President Barack Obama announced that the United States formally recognised the new state. "I am proud to declare that the United States formally recognises the Republic of South Sudan as a sovereign and independent state upon this day, July 9, 2011," Obama said in a statement.

The head of the visiting US delegation, Susan Rice, told the people of South Sudan: "Independence is not a gift you were given, but is a prize you won."

"We salute those who did not live to see this moment — from leaders such as Dr. John Garang, to the ordinary citizens who rest in unmarked graves. We cannot bring them back. But we can honor their memory," she said.

UN chief Ban Ki-moon, also speaking at the ceremony in Juba, said it was an important day for the United Nations, which has been in engaged promoting peace in Sudan for many years.

"Today we open a new chapter when the people of South Sudan claim their freedom and dignity that is their birthright," he said.

Ban commended Kiir and Bashir for the "difficult decisions and compromises" but noted key unresolved provisions of the 2005 peace agreement that ended Sudan’s devastating north-south civil war.

He called on South Sudan to build its nation, saying sovereignty was "both a right and a great responsibility." Ethiopia’s President Meles Zenawi said his country recognised South Sudan’s sovereignty and looked forward "to welcoming you as a full member of IGAD."

China’s special envoy extended President Hu Jintao’s "warmest congratulations" to the "young Republic" of South Sudan, while noting the ongoing negotiations between north and south.

He said Beijing, Sudan’s main trading partner and the largest investor in its key oil industry, hoped the two sides could be "good neighbours, partners and brothers forever."

British Prime Minister David Cameron announced that London also recognised the new state. The World Bank Group President Robert B. Zoellick also congratulated South Sudan, pledging to be "a strong partner as we help transform a day of independence into a decade of development."


Wednesday, 08 June 2011 12:36

President Jonathan goes to White House

Nigeria's President Jonathan goes to Washington

President Barack Obama has invited his Nigerian counterpart President Goodluck Ebele Azikiwe Jonathan to White House  on official visit scheduled for June 8th, 2011. This is an important invitation and has strategic implications as President Jonathan commenced to assume responsibilities as president of Nigeria. This invitation is beyond drinking of tea and other diplomatic niceties at White House, it is essentially rested on developing and consolidating relationship for mutual interest.

 As an emerging nation and giant of Africa, Nigeria is playing a vital role in the continent supplying the largest peace keeping force for peace making and conflict resolutions in Africa. And with increasing Nigerian prestige, together with the last successful election, Washington is extending a solid hand of continuing friendship recognizing quite well that China is becoming a key business partner in Nigeria and Africa.

 U.S. President Obama shakes hands with Nigerian ...President Jonathan in White House

From any point you look at it, Nigeria is a force for good in Africa. South Africa's economic power notwithstanding, Nigeria is the most important country in Africa. Apart from being the most populous country in Africa, Nigeria with her economic reform and accelerating economic growth is poised to become the richest and largest economy in Africa in the near future.

 Nigeria is the sociological and cultural leader in the African world; defining and setting trends on what it means to be an African in 21st century. Most importantly, Nigeria is making waves in scientific innovations, business, sports and arts with the help of Nigerian Diasporas in US and around world, together with the help of ever growing and influential Nollywood .

 Nigeria needs United States of America and vice versa. This is a meeting of mutual respect that will enable a better understanding of the world largest economy America and a vibrant emerging nation Nigeria.  America needs a partner in Africa to tackle many issues of trade, terrorism, health and climate changes. Nigeria with its ample human and natural resources can able to do it with a well-discipline leadership found in President Jonathan.

 The intrinsic point to make here is that Mr. Jonathan's hand is strengthened as a leader democratically elected by the people, as his mandate came from the consent of the populace. What took place in Nigeria in the last election gave President Jonathan a resounding victory and it was anything short of historic. Both local and international observers accepted the election process and outcome to be relatively free and fair. Some have even called it the freest and fairest election in Nigeria.

 The internal politics and state of affairs of countries are significant because it becomes a barometer to quantify respect that a president is accorded by the outsiders especially in this case of Nigeria's leader invitation to the White House. It is good for President Jonathan because he represents a new face of the emerging democratic Nigeria.

 President Jonathan  won his election by going to the people and asking for their votes and mandate; and America respects a leader who understand the power of the people and who honors the genuine wishes of the people. In other means the president coming to Washington is an invitation based on merit and mutual interest.

Goodluck Jonathan and Barack Obama - Pesident Obama Hosts World Leaders At Nuclear Security Summit

The policy makers and leaders of most dynamic democracy, United States will listen to the words of the Nigerian president for they know quite well that he is speaking for the entire people of Nigeria for he was truly elected by the people of Nigeria. The election of a leader by the ballot papers is very important because it is a mark of advanced civilization and respect of rule of law.

 President Obama knew quite well that President Jonathan is a serious and discipline leader. When Mr. Jonathan uttered the right words and asked thatnobody should rig for him in the past election. President Jonathan lived up to his utterance by rejection election riggings and shenanigans. By so doing he formulated a bright and enriched future for his nation.

At the dawn of 21st century Nigeria needs friends like America who will be willing to offer a true friendship based on mutual respect as they tackled African existential problems in particular and global problems in general. Therefore the second outing of President Jonathan to Washington is a good thing for it will enable both parties to forge and further a partnership that will aid to further peace, co-operation, capitalism and democracy in Nigeria and Africa.

Wednesday, 08 June 2011 12:21

USA, China , and Africa

USA 5 : China 1 : Africa 0. It's Time to Get Our Game On

Team China has exactly one objective in Africa: the Chinese want to capture as much of the natural resource base as is possible to continue to fuel China's economic growth. Because the Chinese are singularly focused on this objective, they are incredibly efficient. Their development policy, their trade policy, their above board payments, and even their corruption are all perfectly aligned. They are a formidable opponent on this continental battlefield.

Team US is in disarray. Part of this stems from the fact that U.S. citizens are among the most generous people in the world. As a result, we have a multitude of agendas in Africa. We are interested in eliminating disease, decreasing poverty, improving education, and putting an end to child slavery. We are interested in ending the rape crisis in the Congo, saving the gorillas in Uganda, stopping the genocide in Somalia, and eradicating malaria across the continent.

We are interested in these things while simultaneously recognizing that we too can benefit from Africa's vast natural resources. Our cheap cell phones, our stunning diamonds, our superior Gibson guitars, not to mention some oil, are all made possible by the same natural resource base that China is trying to make away with.

In fact, US tops Germany and China by about 200 billion as the world's top exporter. Frankly, we simply don't have a domestic natural resource base that is large enough to maintain that level of production over the long term so we have to source the supplies from developing countries.

But, our interest in Africa isn't all work and no play. Have you ever been on a safari? It is fabulous. Mind blowing. Life changing. We want to visit Africa, spend our tourist dollars, photograph people, hunt wildlife, check off birds on our bird lists, buy souvenirs, and accrue fantastic stories. We spend billions of dollars to do these things.

Finally, we need an African continent that is reasonably stable because it has direct bearing on our own national security. The Department of Defense spends more than a few dollars in ensuring that poverty and disease don't translate into more terrorism training camps.

In summary, we have economic, development, philanthropic, recreational and security interests in Africa all of which are predicated on the same thing the Chinese want: the natural resources.

The problem is that while China has the singularly focused, narrowly honed strategy, we have absolutely no coherent policy on natural resource management whatsoever. Effectively, our right hand doesn't know what our left hand is doing. Sometimes our right hand doesn't even know there is a left hand.

For example, in Tanzania, the famed Serengeti generates over $1 billion in tourist dollars a year and employs 600,000 people. The Chinese are financing a road that will run right through the middle of the park threatening the tourism industry.

Simultaneously, Tanzania is in the middle of a drought and the Tanzanians are upping their development aid requests to the U.S. This 11th hour battle makes no sense: the Tanzanians are going to work with the Chinese to destroy one of their biggest revenue sources and then ask us for money to save their poor who are facing a seemingly interminable drought. What is especially mind blowing is that the Tanzanians have been asking for help to build a road, any road, for the last 14 years, but we couldn't get our act together to come up with a coordinated plan -- and we still can't.

Further afield, the South Pacific Tuna treaty collapsed last week because several businessmen were able to co-opt the playing field, and the natural resource management community was nowhere to be seen.

In short, Papua New Guinea wanted tuna to be more sustainably sourced because catch data shows a steep decline in the numbers of fish left. Bigeye Tuna catches, for example, are down over 50 percent.

A couple of U.S. businessmen, who own Taiwanese companies, thought it would be handy if they flew the U.S. flag on 25 of their Taiwanese vessels allowing them to dodge rules such as boats should be built in the U.S., vessels should carry U.S. crews, and tuna should be canned in the United States or U.S. territories.


While returning little value to the U.S. taxpayer and/or consumer, the businessmen benefited from treaty perks such as a $1600 per U.S. vessel cost to fish as compared to Japan's $6000. The treaty fell through because the conservation folks, Commerce, Department of Defense, and State Department have absolutely no idea what their position is and taxpayers are left with a fishery on the verge of collapse, 25 years of hard work in shambles, and millions of U.S. philanthropic and taxpayer dollars wasted.

What do we do about this quandary? Three things:

First we encourage the US Government to get organized. One way to do this is build a unit that coordinates efforts between departments. While this is a new idea as pertains to management of natural resources, it has precedents in different shapes and sizes. Such coordination in effort won't cost more, in fact, it will save money. Efforts to do this are underway and should be supported.

Second, civil society, including NGOs, foundations, and corporations, need to work across sectors to plan, implement, and monitor efforts. There are a lot of organizations trying to make a lot of good things happen. All it takes is one Chinese road through a project area to undermine the thousands, in some cases millions of dollars that are being invested. The only way to garner enough strength to stop the Chinese is to combine financial and technical resources and work together as a team.

Finally, we have to recognize that careful use of natural resources and smart economic planning are necessary to help developing countries climb their way out of poverty. This means listening to the needs and objectives of developing countries and ensuring that solutions are found that support the big picture. It is hard to see the big picture when your citizens are dying from famine, disease and drought. Our generosity and economic policies can help bridge the divide between the short term needs and long term goals that poor countries often face.

If we are going to play this game we have to play smarter and faster than the Chinese. These natural resources in Africa, and elsewhere, are finite. The solutions are there, the money is there, the technology is there, we just have to get our lineup in order.

Jamie Bechtel is an American citizen and the Co-Founder and CEO of NEW Course and is a highly regarded leader in international conservation. Her work has led to strategic advances in the fields of conservation, sustainable finance, and biology.







Published in Archive

US Secretary of State, Hillary Clinton sends congratulory message


On behalf of President Obama and the people of the United States,  I applaud the people of Nigeria for their enthusiastic and orderly participation in the April 16th presidential election. This historic event marks a dramatic shift from decades of failed elections and a substantial improvement over the 2007 presidential election.


While this election was a success for the people of Nigeria, it was far from perfect. We urge the Independent National Electoral Commission to transparently review and take appropriate and transparent action on all allegations of "under-age" voters, violence and intimidation, ballot stuffing, and inordinately high turnout in some areas of the country.

The United States condemns the acts of violence related to elections and we call upon all candidates, political parties, and supporters to respect the results of the election and channel any grievances or challenges peacefully through established, administrative and legal redress. The international community will closely watch the upcoming gubernatorial elections and we call on all Nigerian stakeholders to support a credible and peaceful electoral process.


We commend the Independent National Electoral Commission and Chairman Professor Attahiru Jega along with many others across government and civil society  for their strong collaboration and dedication to democracy. They provided a real opportunity for the Nigerian people to select their most  senior leaders and will position Nigeria to build its democracy through  strong governance, transparent institutions, and economic development.

The United States congratulates President Goodluck Ebele Jonathan on his  election and wishes him well in meeting the many challenges facing Nigeria and in providing the good governance Nigerians deserve. This election represents a positive new beginning for Nigeria.

Sunday, 21 November 2010 16:27

Currency war: the stakes for Africa

Africa's economic outlook could suffer if foreign investment pushes up the value of its currencies and cripples exports

As a result of chronically deficient demand in the aftermath of the 2008-09 financial and economic crises, global imbalances are on the rise again, as is the risk of protectionism. The US thinks China is undervaluing its currency to support its industry. The situation could lead to an "international currency war". What does this herald for African countries?

If history is any guide, we might look into previous currency conflicts to gauge the future. In the 1930s, currency wars led to competitive devaluations, protectionism, high inflation, economic collapse, the rise of Hitler in Germany, and eventually the second world war.

Africans were drafted in their thousands to fight alongside the allied forces against the axis armies. Many of them died. Africa's consolation prize came with the political awakening, the fight for freedom, and the independence that followed.

Postwar international euphoria did not last long before another currency conflict struck. In 1971, President Richard Nixon levied a 10% import surcharge and ended dollar convertibility into gold. This is how the debt-economy was born, further compounded and universalised by the Big Bang, the fall of the Berlin Wall, the repealing of the Glass-Steagall Act, China's embrace of the "one state, two systems" model – totalitarian politics and economic liberalism – and globalisation.

Cheap money flooded the world, leaving out African countries, which – except for white-ruled South Africa and Northern Rhodesia (Zimbabwe) – were locked out of capital market borrowings. Again, their consolation came when, devoid of toxic assets, they escaped almost unscathed the current twin woes of financial turmoil and economic downturn.

Quantitative easing (QE) adopted by the US Federal Reserve, the Bank of England, the European Central Bank and the Bank of Japan – printing hundreds of billions of dollars of electronic money – is the current weapon of choice in an escalating global currency war. Since the official interest rates set up by these central banks are close to zero, QE is flooding emerging market economies as investors search for higher yields. As a result, the exchange rates of their currencies are rising.

This invokes the 1985 Plaza agreement, whereby the US pressurised Japan into an appreciation of the yen. Japan never recovered from the huge monetary expansion that followed. China is unlikely to follow in Japan's footsteps. With its huge population, immense foreign exchange reserves and capital control, Beijing still has considerable scope to thwart speculative capital inflows and expand domestic demand to ward off western currency bullying.

Africa is being caught in the crossfire of this currency clash. In South Africa, the continent's biggest economy, capital inflows induced a rally in the rand, which last month rose to its highest level against the dollar in almost three years, undermining key export-led industries.

The CFA franc, which is freely convertible into hard currency at a grossly overvalued parity pegged to the euro, is still more vulnerable. The franc zone, which gives France control of 65% of the African member-countries' foreign-exchange reserves deducted directly from their oil, gold, cocoa, coffee and other commodities' exports earnings, will be a first choice for hot money inflows.

A foreign exchange cover of 110%, combined with soaring interest rates, low inflation and free capital movement, fuels capital flight to the benefit of France and French private companies. Moreover, the franc zone is particularly attractive to speculative capital inflows. Speculators transfer huge amounts of money to high-interest local accounts, collect their tax-free gains every three months, and take the no-risk plunge over and over again.

The brewing currency war is all the more unwelcome in Africa when one considers that the continent is enjoying a particularly good economic outlook. According to McKinsey & Company, Africa was the third-largest contributor to world economic growth in 2009, after China and India. It also credits the continent with delivering the highest rate of return on foreign investment.

Several factors have contributed to this upturn. Rapid urbanisation – 40% of Africans live in cities – has created a dynamic informal sector. This cash-based economy is a major contributor to the continent's productive capacity. It employs over 90% of the workforce, is home to three-quarters of retailers, and plays a leading role in increasing regional trade. By 2015, Africa will be the only continent where the working age percentage of the population will still be growing. The number of households with earnings over $5,000 – a threshold for consumption spending – will rise from 85m to 128m in the next decade.

Increased demand from emerging countries such as Brazil, India and China has pushed up commodity prices and increased export revenues. The scramble for large-scale purchases and leases of hundreds of thousands of hectares of farmland in the region has made the headlines across the world. There is no doubt that the opacity and the dubious conditions surrounding some of these deals are cause for concern. However, the fact remains that investment to harness Africa's huge agricultural potential is one answer to rising global food prices, "food riots", and climate change-induced food security concerns.

Economic reforms implemented throughout the 1970s and 1980s have improved the macroeconomic environment. Annual foreign direct investment flow in Africa rose from $9bn in 2000 to $62bn in 2008.

These are the bright development prospects that the currency sabre-rattling could jeopardise. However, Africa might find consolation in the fact that when the world's major economies are in trouble, wary investors find solace in "refuge values" like gold, silver, oil, base metals and other commodities in which Africa abounds.

Sanou Mbaye is a London-based Senegalese development consultant and a former senior official at the African Development Bank. He is the author of L'Afrique au secours de l'Afrique (Africa to the rescue of Africa).




Independent Referendum to be closely monitored and implemented

Sudan as a nation has never known peace since her independent from Britain in 1956. There were always inter or intra tribal conflicts, regional division, ideological fragmentations and religious conflagration. There were two protracted civil wars and Darfur conflict that resulted into genocide. These intractable problems have never gone away and the constancy of these problems has disorganized the largest land mass country in Africa. Sudan is endowed with natural resources notably crude oil but massive poverty, diseases and wars have become the landmark of the troubled land.

At this moment emerges a window of opportunity from the notably Peace Accord made between the Islamic North and mostly Christian South that called for a referendum in January for the self-determination of the South. This opportunity to end the wars, genocide and abhorrent status quo in Sudan cannot be allowed to flatter away. The Bush administration must be acknowledged for their contribution to the advancing of peace making between the warring factions in Sudan that culminated to the Peace Accord, subsequently with the scheduled forthcoming independent referendum in January.

The Obama administration and United Nations must utilize all the leverage they can muster to make sure that the Sudanese government of President Omar al-Bashir do not back down from the timetable and the implementation of the accord. Earlier, President al-Bashir was indicted by International Criminal Court at Hague for war crime in the Darfur genocide.  Although President al-Bashir has assented that he will abide by the outcome of the referendum which will surely result to the secession of the Southern Sudan but the watchful eye of the world is still necessary.

Sudan's President al-Bashir (r.) and First Vice President Salva Kiir Mayardit (Southern leader) Pics: Christian Monitor

United Nations must make the necessary arrangement to ensure that the outcome of the referendum will be honored in orderly framework. The presidential candidate Barrack Obama was talking up the issue of Sudan during his campaign for presidency and was showing all the signs of being on top of it once he got elected. The critics of Obama administration including Human Rights organizations and some members of US congress were complaining that his policy on Sudan is murky and that may be unfounded.

President Obama administration is backing the independent referendum which he reiterated America’s support during his appearance at the United Nations conference in September. President Obama said, "The stakes are enormous, we all know the terrible price paid by the Sudanese people the last time north and south were engulfed in war -- some 2 million people killed."

The United Nations General Assembly cannot afford to be playing child’s picnic with the issue of Sudan because the downside will be a horrible ramification that will quadrupled human sufferings that comes with massive loss of lives, property destruction and with unspoken tolls of hardship. United Nations has to put more resources and energy by aiding African Union and listening to the counsel of Nigeria’s Professor Gambari, United Nations Special envoy to the Arab League Summit that he is offering in order for the cessation of the violence to be sustainable. African Union (AU) can be of great help because Sudan is in their turf but AU lacks the necessary fund, resources and logistic to implement the accord singlehanded.

Khartoum government may likely back down from the accord without any credible power breathing down over their back. Bashir government has every reason to withdraw from the peace accord because the oil resource is in the south. Therefore the United States and United Nations can bring firmness on the issue that will not provide the Khartoum incentive to be become reluctant to implement the accord.

This is not the time to appease tyrants and dictators who are not willing to work together with global community to foster tranquility and peace in their corner of the world. As Sudan is aspiring to be a democratic nation and a responsible nation she will follow up with the peace accord and avert further destruction of her land. President Bashir has to display a statesmanship with responsibility that will convince the peace loving people of our globe that his quest for peace and unity is without doubt.

Peace can be made self-evident not by words and promises but action and commitment to peace. The world community must be willing to work with the Sudanese government to bring to an end the wars and disease in the land. At the end of the day if the South ratified the referendum by voting Yes, then their self-determination will be honored and respected. And that will mark a new chapter in the annals of peace making and a new dawn of peace will commence in the troubled land of Sudan.

In 21st century Africa, peace is a precious resource and Africa must be willing to do anything within her power to maintain a peaceful continent. The greatest bearer of brunt of African wars, instability and dilemma are women and children. The children of Africa and Sudan must be protected from wars, diseases and abuses emitted by their selfish leaders and war lords who were bent on implementing ideas and policies that do not promote peace, liberty and unity in the political landscape.




Published in Archive
Wednesday, 18 August 2010 22:24

Oil spill in Niger Delta

Nigeria can learn from US oil spill response


During the Offshore Technology Conference held in Houston, Texas, a seminar was organized by Energy and Corporate Africa on Oil and Gas exploration in Africa. Afripol‘s Principal Policy Strategist, Emeka Chiakwelu presented a paper on ‘Affects of oil spills in Niger Delta and Africa’ on the second day of the conference.

African government officials including senior governmental bureaucrats from Nigerian presidency (Aso Rock) were in the conference. It happened that on the day of the presentation was the initial stage of the Gulf of Mexico oil spill. Afripol’s representative used the spill as point of reference and as a lunching pad to elaborate on Niger Delta continuous massive spill, thus drawing on their similarities and inaction in Nigeria.

The penetrating scope of the paper presentation might have made Aso Rock officials unease but the presentation was spiking vitality and highlighting the significance of the government, the affecting community and oil companies working together to arrest the oil spill menace. The synergy can be realized by having a Standard Operating Procedures (SOP) and efficient coordination for oil spill response and subsequent remediation when it became necessary.

The mountainous and sheath flow oil spill in Gulf of Mexico almost wrecked the livelihood of communities living in the region. The maritime life has received a devastating damage, the aquatic organism and its ecosystem may never be same again. Put it this way, it will take a long time even more than a century before the Gulf of Mexico will return to normality. The damage to the communities and ecology cannot be quantified only in monetary values, without adding the psychological, well being and pristine nature’s deformation of the area probably for ever.

But in spite of all that happened there are still things that we all can learn from the sad episode. The governance and the peoples of developing nations that are confronting the issue of oil spill in consummative level to the Gulf of Mexico spilled can learn from American people and the government. In Nigerian region of Niger Delta that produced most of the oil that made Nigeria the sixth producer and exporter of crude oil, the waters and ecosystem have continuous oil spill in large scale since oil was discovered in the region for the past 50years.

Niger Delta pristine environment has been decimated by oil spill at a scale bigger than that of Gulf of Mexico, which was approximated at a discharged of 2.5 millions gallons daily. According to a recent piece from New York Times: "As many as 546 million gallons of oil spilled into the Niger Delta over the last five decades, or nearly 11 million gallons a year, a team of experts for the Nigerian government and international and local environmental groups concluded in a 2006 report. By comparison, the Exxon Valdez spill in 1989 dumped an estimated 10.8 million gallons of oil into the waters off Alaska."

The influential British Broadcasting Corporation (BBC) reported that "On 12 May 2009, Shell's Bomo manifold blew up, leaking massive amounts of crude. Local people say 39 hectares were contaminated. A second leak - from a derelict oil tap - had already been continuously spilling oil for years. But, according to the Nigerian government, there were more than 7,000 spills between 1970 and 2000. Environmentalists believe spills - large and small - happen at a rate of 300 every year." All these are showing that oil spills and environmental degradation at Niger Delta were massive and more often than were documented.

The sad story is that poverty in Niger Delta has been enhanced because the source of livelihood which comes from fishing and agriculture has been destroyed by these continuous oil spills in the area. One thing must be clear; this is not the time to point accusing fingers to one another. It is the time for the people of the area, government and the big oil companies to work together. Nobody can deny this, the revenue generated from export crude oil has been enormous but enough resources have not been invested in the region. But gradually the present administration has been rising to challenge of re-writing the wrongs of the past.

Nigerians can learn from Americans on the protection and the defense of the environment. First and foremost, we can be begin to get into our head that the big oil companies can not just abandon the government to carry out the responsibility of ecosystem oil cleanup and remediation. The oil companies have the utmost responsibility of keeping the area in the good shape as they found it. With the natives source of income being diminish the oil companies should find a way to compensate these communities. Nobody is suggesting that the oil companies should empty their savings and profits to the affected people but to acknowledge the sufferings of the poor and helpless people.

Inasmuch that we are grateful that the oil companies are investing in Nigeria, they must not behave in way that only Nigeria is gaining from the business venture; the oil companies are making large amount of profits too. Intrinsically there must be symbiotic relationship where nobody is left behind but everybody is matching to a tune of one beat. Oil companies doing business at Niger Delta must be willing to sincerely work with people not just for sake of public relationship but to make a difference.

We can learn from America about the empowerment of the community and citizens. Instead of the local communities of Niger Delta destroying oil infrastructures and kidnapping people they must come to table for negotiation equipped with practical solutions. The local environment activists must subscribed to non-violence and will only encourage peaceful demonstrations and outings.

The government and the people must speak with one voice not to intimidate the oil companies but speaking with a sensibility to promotes peace, understanding and harmony between the people of Niger Delta and the oil companies.

Spill Prevention and Response Measures

Being prepared and ready is the key. The most significant thing is the making provision of the materials and information needed to confront oil spill. The government of Nigeria has the supreme task of defining and elucidating in details her responsibilities to oil companies when oil spill occurs. The congress will pass a bill that empowers the presidency to supervise the cleanup and enforcements of cleaning oil spill. The bill or the passed law must enumerate how the cost of the cleanup will be shared and the enforcement procedures with regards to penalties and fines when necessary.

Chiakwelu said, "Nigerian lawmakers have a role to play on the issue of the oil spill. The legislators should introduce a bill and pass a law that is fully adequate and comprehensive on spill response and clean up. The propose bill will stipulate the roles of government agencies, oil companies and the community. The bill will come with implementation procedures and penalties for inaction and neglect."

The law must not be source of intimidation but an enlightenment process and procedure that discourage irresponsibility and incompetence. The government of Nigeria will create a symbiotic relationship with the oil companies that will generate a synergy of competence, responsibities and mutual respect.

Nigerian government will not shoulder all the responsibilities nor transfer them to the oil companies. But a shared responsibities must be eminent and adhered to. Oil companies must not abandon oil spill clean up to the government, after all Nigerian government does not have the scientific equipments and the technical know-how for cleaning oil spill. The most important is to be precautious, to clean oil spill and to maintain the integrity of the ecosystem.






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