Restructuring, Niger Delta cleanup echo at National Point’s 10th anniversary
It was reflective mood in Lagos last week, as experts, stakeholders, elder statesmen, and professionals in the media industry gathered to mark the 10th anniversary of National Point newspaper. With the theme, ‘Away from Oil: A way with Oil’ guests unanimously insisted that the imperative of restructuring the country, with particular emphasis to Niger Delta region, could not be over-emphasised.
Executive Director of National Point, Ibiba Don Pedro, who was also the 2003 CNN African Journalist of the Year, stated that National Point came into being in the midst of the turmoil over elections in 2007 in Rivers State, saying, “The cult groups and armed gangs deployed by politicians for the elections were on rampage. Scores of innocent Rivers people and other residents were being slaughtered on their way from work or just passing by. Some were being hunted down at home or the homes of their friends and slaughtered like goats.
“Today, the issues that led us to set up this platform for investigating issues and advocating for their resolution, working with civil society, lawmakers, government officials and other stakeholders remain largely unresolved. We call for the country’s restructuring, not in the blighted tone of politicians, who will soon move on to another pet issue or slogan. We must return the country to true practice of federalism, the only system that recognises our diversity and the reality that no part of the country is conquered territory or play ground for lazy persons living a lie.
“We call for an end to the hounding of our sons, who refuse to accept this position of fifth class citizens, have learnt to use the same types of arms that enable the decade long militarization of our communities, to defend themselves and their communities.”
Similarly, the guest speaker, Prof. Dauphin Moro, noted, “A sincere restructuring of Nigeria would definitely engender in all Nigerians the patriotic zeal to contribute to the development of our country like the Ghanaians and Americans, where justice, fairness and equity reign.”
While speaking on the topic ‘Niger Delta’s Next Decade: Confronting the Environmental Challenges through Restructuring,’ he stated, “restructuring to me means resource control, creation of equal number of states, devolution of power, a weaker centre, equal number of zones in the North and South, fiscal federalism, confederation, land tenure system, independent candidacy, part time and unicameral legislature and local government autonomy.
“I also strongly suggest that bio-remediation of Niger Delta environment would be a better option, as plants and even bacteria can be genetically engineered to clean up and recover the Niger Delta environment without hazardous environmental consequences. Biological remediation has been used successfully in areas, where oil is produced to detoxify and restore the ecosystem damaged by oil spills. Bio-remediation involves biological components in remediation or cleanup of specific site.
“Two plants species indigenous to the Niger Delta that can be used in a two-stage clean up are: Hibiscus cannabinus and Vetiveria zizanoidses, which use would improve the quality of drinking water, soil conditions and the health of their surrounding environment.”
Three of Don Pedro’s books Oil in Water, Out of a Bleak Landscape and Scavengers and Real Avengers of Niger Delta were also launched.
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