Draft For Communique At The End Of The Roundtable Conference Organised By Social Development Integrated Centre (Social Action) On Addressing The Crisis Of The Sahel And The Lake Chad Basin: Targeting A Pan-Nigerian Civil Society Agenda, 29 November 2016

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Following a one-day roundtable conference on the above topic, participant cutting across various civil society organisations in Nigeria have come up with the following resolution: –
• That the humanitarian crisis in the Sahel region of Nigeria should not be seen purely as a religious or ethnic problem; rather, the crises in the Sahel, including the Lake Chad Basin are manifestations of serious ecological challenges that should be addressed as a matter of urgent national importance.

• That the core ecological and attendant social challenges confronting farmers and pastoralists in the Sahel region manifests as desertification; water shortage and drought; the issue of livelihood; climate change; migration; maladaptation (inappropriate government response to adaptation); good governance deficits at the federal, state and local government levels, etc.

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Cleaning in a Vaccum: Framework Gaps in the Implementation of the UNEP Report on Ogoniland

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Being text of Press Conference organized by Social Action on 3rd of August 2016.
Ladies and Gentlemen of the Media, thank you for honouring our invitation.
The 4th of August 2016 marks the fifth year since the United Nations Environment Programme, UNEP released a report on its assessment of pollution impacted sites in Ogoniland. After decades of local and international campaigns by thousands of climate groups and activists against environmental despoliation of Ogoniland and the Niger delta by oil companies, the Nigerian Government in 2007 invited the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) to carry out scientific assessment of the impact of oil pollution on parts of the Ogoni environment. UNEP completed the assignment and submitted its report to the Nigerian government on August 4th, 2011.

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WRONG AGAIN! LOAN (ACQUISITIONS) NOT SUSTAINABLE PATH TO DIVERSIFYING THE ECONOMY – SOCIAL ACTION

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Overlooking the country’s economic critical situation and against all well-meaning ideas put forward towards lifting the country from economic doldrums, the federal government has once again set in motion mechanism to engage in another borrowing spree.
According to its recently released “Medium Term Expenditure Framework and Fiscal Strategy (MTEF) document, the federal government was set to borrow $7.8billion to supposedly finance budget deficit of N2.2trillion. This staggering sum will bring Nigeria’s debt profile to N14.8trillion ($67.6billion), a 17.5% rise from its December, 2015 portfolio.

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State Budgets Should Not Be Treated As Secret Documents: Being a Press Statement Released by Social Action, Niger Delta Citizens and Budget Platform and Partners

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It is worrying that at the sixth month of the fiscal year, Rivers state, Akwa Ibom state, Bayelsa state and Delta state have not deemed it appropriate to make copies of their annual budgets available on the state official websites or otherwise for public access. This is the high point of a tradition of executive and legislative secrecy which has become common practice in the aforementioned states.

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NHRC postpones Public Inquiry on forced evictions, indefinitely:Press statement issued by the Social Development Integrated Centre

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Written by Lillian Akhigbe, Communications Officer, Social Action

The National Human Rights Commission (NHRC) has postponed its Public Inquiry scheduled to hold in Port Harcourt from December 17 – 19, 2014, till further notice. The Commission was to sit at the Federal High Court complex to investigate and adjudicate the alleged violation of the right to fair hearing, housing, dignity, food, livelihood, adequate standard of living, private and family life, of tens of thousands of residents in the demolished Abonnema, Njemanze and Agip (Eagle Island) waterfront communities, as well as several Ogoni indigenes in Ogoniland.  The postponed Hearing was fixed to entertain the four petitions filed on behalf of the affected communities, by the Social development Integrated Centre (Social Action), in conjunction with other civil society organizations. Also slated for hearing, was a petition filed by Social Action in respect of the late Mrs Maureen Lucky, who was allegedly evicted from a flood relief camp in October 2012, by government officials on account of her HIV-positive status. She died a few weeks after the forced eviction, leaving behind three children and an aged mother. The petition was filed, February 13, 2013.

The postponed three – day Hearing of the NHRC, would have been the third Public Inquiry session held in respect of some of the petitions, having initially organised two sessions in Port Harcourt (May 2014) and in Enugu (October 2014), respectively.

The Abonnema waterfront community which comprised of over 63,000 people living in over 600 structures, was demolished between June 27- July 2, 2012. The community situated in Port Harcourt, was home to mainly Kalabari Ijaw people who carried on their farming, fishing, sea faring, boat building and other businesses within and around the community.  The Rivers State government under the guise of carrying out an urban renewal exercise purportedly designed to chase out criminals from the city, decided to demolish Abonnema community, perceived to be harbouring criminals. Without any Notice issued to the residents, the entire community was razed down with bulldiozers and several community members were arrested and illegally detained by security forces. The petition was subsequently filed on September 26, 2013.

The Njemanze waterfront community consisted of about 18,000 people who lived and worked in over 375 buildings. It was a riverine community in Port Harcourt which drew fishermen and fishmongers to settle there because of its proximity to water. Many of the settlers used cumbersome manual methods to reclaim and develop the wetlands to a level fit for human habitation. Some also built permanent structures with block and zinc, and lived there for decades. Every structure in the community was demolished by the Rivers State government between February 9 – August 28, 2009 and the inhabitants were forcefully chased away from their community, without being paid compensation by the government.  After every attempt made by the people to get compensation failed, the petition was thereafter filed by the civil society organisations at the NHRC on May 17, 2014. Agip (Eagle island) waterfront community comprising Ogoni village, Alhaji village and Ibioma village, had over 30,000 people living and working in at least 842 structures erected in the community. The villages in the community were situated along both sides of the road running from the gate of AGIP Plc  to Eagle Island town in Port Harcourt. Between December 2004 and April 2005, the government demolished the community after forcibly evicting thousands of residents from their houses. The petition was filed at the NHRC on March 26, 2014.

In Ogoniland, the forced eviction of Ogoni farmers from their farmlands by the government, resulted in dozens of killings, forced disappearances and the burning and looting of hundreds of houses of persons who objected to the eviction. For the purpose of establishing a banana plantation in a public-private partnership with a Mexican firm, the government took over the subsistent farmland and sole means of livelihood of hundreds of Ogoni families, ostensibly to financially benefit the government and the foreign private investor. Social Action in April 2013, published a Report titled “KILLING FOR BANANA” which revealed that several persons were killed and some missing, by or with the complicity of the Nigerian security forces who failed to conduct any investigations to date. The petition was filed at the NHRC on September 25, 2013. The reliefs sought at the Commission are an order of mandatory injunction restoring the various lands in question, back to the affected community members and/or an order of mandatory injunction compelling the Rivers State government to pay adequate compensation for all moveable and immoveable property wrongfully lost, damaged or destroyed during the demolitions, and for the violation of the rights of the evictees guaranteed under the 1999 Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria and the Rivers State Rent Control & Recovery of Possession of Premises Edict  No. 3 1984, as well as  the International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights, and the African Charter on Human and Peoples’ rights which are ratified international statutes applicable in Nigeria.

For further enquiries, Please contact Social Action

NDCBP Releases Citizens’ Report on State and Local Government Budgets in the Niger Delta

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NDCBP Releases Citizens’ Report on State and Local Government Budgets in the Niger Delta

The Niger Delta Citizens and Budget Platform (NDCBP) is a coalition of civil society organizations in the Niger Delta working to ensure transparency, accountability and citizens’ participation in State and Local Government budget processes. In the last six years, NDCBP has worked with other civil society organizations, the media and communities in conducting budget monitoring, budget analyses and budget advocacy with primary emphasis on the Niger Delta states of Akwa Ibom, Bayelsa, Delta, Edo and Rivers states. The Platform’s findings have been widely published in the previous annual reports ‘Carry Go’, ‘Beyond Amnesty’, ‘Spend and Borrow’ and ‘Counting the Votes’ and ‘Wasted Billions’. We are pleased to share with you the latest in that series, ‘Pardoning Impunity: Citizens Report on State and Local Government Budget in the Niger Delta’.

Pardoning Impunity  begins with an interesting discussion on the challenges facing Nigeria and especially the Niger Delta in the past year. Topical issues such as the Petroleum Industry Bill, the state of federal institutions like the Niger Delta Development Commission and the Ministry of the Niger Delta; and corruption in the oil and gas industry, are elaborately examined. The report also presents analyses of the budgets of the focal states, examining how the governments’ income and expenditure have kept trend with the avowed policy directions of the states. Particularly, the interest has been on how much emphasis the governments place on the education, health and food sufficiency sectors in relation to what is required to meet the challenges of those sectors.

The report gives an assessment of the economic downturns witnessed in Nigeria in 2013 following the passage of the Appropriation of that year, with a major focus on an in-depth analysis of the 2013 budgets implemented in five states of the Niger Delta region, namely: Akwa Ibom, Rivers, Bayelsa, Delta and Edo. The states were selected based on the criteria of being oil-producing States and the biggest receivers of the 13 percent derivation fund allocated to oil-bearing states in Nigeria.

The report also presents in factual and pictorial details, findings of NDCBP field monitors who in December 2013, visited project sites in the five focal states to carry out firsthand assessment of randomly selected capital projects in the areas of education, health and food sufficiency allocated funds in the 2013 budgets of the states.

Pardoning Impunity is aimed at revealing some crucial reasons why development still eludes the Niger Delta states, while highlighting the harsh reality of the region when juxtaposed with the huge revenue allocations disbursed to it. Widespread poverty, restiveness and an acute dearth of infrastructure, remain the order of the day, in spite of the monthly accruals.

The overall aim of the report is to emphasize the need for state policies and revenues to significantly influence the attainment of sustainable development and all-round wealth creation in the region.

An electronic version of ‘Pardoning Impunity: Citizens Report on State and Local Government Budget in the Niger Delta’. is available here