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MINORITIES’ RIGHTS: BETWEEN NIGERIA AND AKWA IBOM STATE.

Nigeria as a nation is not known for justice, equity and fairness.That is why it’s not also known for peace, prosperity and stability.If human beings avoid the temptation of dominating others because of numerical and other advantages, this Country would be far better than it is today.

The minorities in Nigeria are treated like tenants in another person’s house.In fact, in the case of the Niger Delta Region, the situation is worse because no tenant is expected to feed his landlord.

As a people, we have collectively fought this monster of injustice, marginalization and deprivation for years believing, albeit erroneously that we were one.We rued the fact that proceeds from the sale of crude oil explored from our soil were used to develop other parts of the country while we wallowed in squalor. Each time we thought about this level of injustice, our adrenaline shot up.It was, and still is okay to be angry about the wrongs done us by Nigeria. But a taboo to complain of worse happenings back home.

We believed we were brothers fighting a common enemy until oil bounties started trickling in.A worse evil than the one we fought against from a far now resides in our bedroom.

At least, Nigeria has never denied that its crude oil is found in the Niger Delta Region even when it was unwilling to release the benefits. It now concedes to the Niger Delta Region,a partial right to its inheritance.It respects our voices although it hates the deployment of violence in pressing home our demands.

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In addition to giving us the Niger Delta Development Commission(NDDC), Ministry of Niger Delta Affairs, it has given us 13% of the money derived from the sale of our crude oil.The East West Road and other key projects came in recognition of our contributions to the national coffers.

As designed by the Creator, like Nigeria, oil bearing communities of Akwa Ibom State are in the numerical minorities.

Has Akwa Ibom State treated the oil bearing communities better than Nigeria? Or is it worse?

Unlike Nigeria, Akwa Ibom State pretends that its oil belongs to everybody and nobody.Is it really a coincidence that some parts of the State which don’t produce oil fare better than the oil producing areas just the same way it happened in Nigeria in the past? Did we feel good when the Niger Delta suffered the same fate in Nigeria? Why do they expect minorities in the State to feel good where they felt bad?Is this not the height of hypocrisy?

It took Nigeria, through the House of Representatives and Office of the Secretary to Government of the Federation to direct Akwa Ibom State to recognize its part called Oro as oil producing.Till date, Akwa Ibom State has avoided every discussion on that Resolution and Circular. Would the situation have been the same if it involved our bigger brothers?

What percentage of its own share of the 13% Derivation Fund does Akwa Ibom State spend on its oil producing communities? Why can’t our State take a cue from other Niger Delta States by establishing an interventionist agency for oil producing communities after the fashion of the NDDC?

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No! It cannot happen because we are not sincere enough to face the issue of who is oil producing and who is not.

They want us to pretend all is well despite their ill treatment. Only a self deluded person believes there’s peace in the absence of justice and fairness.

Oro rightly belongs to Akwa Ibom State.It contributes significantly to the coffers of the State.Without Oro’s resource contributions, the achievements they brag about will never be possible. Yet, they want us to believe that it’s a privilege for them to respond to our greetings.If they do more than that, they expect us to genuflect or even prostrate while greeting our children.

The level of injustice arising from ethnic segregation brewing in Akwa Ibom State is assuming a frightening dimension.If not checked, what the Blacks of South Africa experienced in the era of apartheid and racism which literally reduced Black Americans to filthy rags will be a child’s play.

They feel obliged to develop other parts of the State but they only try to give us a token because they will need our votes(even if they are few)during elections.

Which Oro man feels loved in this State today?Who feels a sense of pride and belonging as a citizen? Among those who supported and those who opposed Oro Governorship 2015; those who are in and out of government; the educated and the illiterates; the rich and the poor. The feeling of rejection and alienation is pervasive and deep seated.

Some may pretend.Others may smile in the face of humiliation.But a generation is arising which will never submit to modern slavery in a State which is supposed to be theirs.

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Is it not a serious contradiction that our Governor wants Mobil and other Oil Companies to relocate their Headquarters to Akwa Ibom State when he cannot extend similar benefits within his power to core oil producing communities?

On what moral ground do we stand to make such demands when we attempt to deny the oil producing status of certain minority oil producing communities in our State?

The kind of peace we seek which excludes justice and fairness can only be peace of the graveyard. Genuine peace is anchored on love, fairness, justice and shared respect.

Omen Bassey.

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