Offshore-Onshore Bill: A Trojan


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January 9, 2003

President of the Federal Republic of Nigeria
President of the Nigeria Senate, Abuja, Nigeria
Speaker of the House of Representatives, Abuja, Nigeria
Members of the National Assembly, Abuja, Nigeria
Governors of the Federation of Nigeria
Speakers of the Niger Delta States, Nigeria
Secretary General Kofi Annan, United Nations, New York


In refusing to sign the Onshore-Offshore Bill which the National
Assembly passed overwhelmingly, President Obasanjo stated that the Bill,
as amended, was "far-reaching, as it is a potential source of conflict
between neighboring countries and Nigeria." Incidentally, Obasanjo's
letter stating his refusal was released one after the Kano Elders Forum
(KEF) led by the Emir of Kano, Alhaji Ado Bayero, raised objections to
the Bill. The KEF declared that action by the National Assembly to
override the presidential veto of the Bill was a threat to the nation's
corporate existence. It contended that the Bill which would have
abrogated the onshore-offshore  dichotomy, as passed, was not in the
interest of the North!

Most Nigerians knew that the Bill, as crafted by Obasanjo, constituted a
fraud on the people of the Niger Delta. As the distinguished professor
of  nternational law, Itse Sagay, has suggested, it was a bill
intentionally designed to deceive, because its authors knew then and
know now, that the oil which Nigeria gets from her offshore wells lies
in her claimed continental shelf, and NOT in the contiguous zone.

It is worthy of note that Obasanjo's Bill does not say that the area
from the coastline ( the beginning of the continental shelf ) up to the
contiguous zone shall be deemed to be a part of the littoral states as,
is erroneously reported in many dailies. The contiguous zone established
in 1958 by the UN Convention on the Territorial Sea is for the sole
purpose of customs, fiscal, immigration and sanitary regulations and

In refusing to sign the Bill, President Obasanjo claimed that if it
became law, the bill would lead to war perhaps with Cameroon, Equatorial
Guinea, Gabon, Sao Tome and possibly the United States. This is perhaps
the most embarrassing excuse the president could have offered in seeking
to cloak his ever- increasing disregard or "Deltaphobia" for the
southern minorities. One is left to wonder whether it is Akwa Ibom,
Delta, Bayelsa, Rivers, or Ondo State that established the limits of
Nigeria's boarders both on land and on the ocean floor.

Why would the payment of 13%, by the Federal Government, of the revenues
it derives from the oil in the continental shelf which it has long
claimed, constitute an abdication, by it, of Nigeria's foreign policy to
the littoral states? Why have the wars over this issue which President
Obasanjo claims are likely not erupted long before now? How are we
supposed to respect or take seriously a president who displays such a
glaring disregard for logical reasoning and intellectual honesty? Simply
put, the excuses advanced by President Obasanjo for withholding his
assent to the Bill, is an insult to the intelligence of the people of
the Niger Delta.

It is well established that he was not really interested in a political
solution to the onshore-offshore question, until the threat of
impeachment served as a catalyst. But in seeking that political answer,
he was determined to protect the long established advantage which his
political sponsors in Northern Nigeria have so unfairly enjoyed over the
people of the Niger Delta-an area of Nigeria which has long been treated
as if it were an internal colony. But then the National Assembly
replaced the words "contiguous zone" with the words "continental shelf",
and what had been a seemingly well crafted scheme to fool and pacify the
Niger Delta while safeguarding the absolute advantage of the Northern
region, began to unravel.

In a desperate attempt to protect an untenable position, he sought to
justify the continuing rape of the Niger Delta by invoking the specter
of war if the bill became law. But, unfortunately, even his Northern
handlers saw this excuse for the sophism that it is, and chose instead
to announce, through the Emir of Kano, that Nigeria could disintegrate
if the bill became law. We are convinced, however, that it is the
reverse that will be true. We strongly believe that it is the
president's failure to sign the bill that could cause the disintegration
of Nigeria.

For a group of men in Northern Nigeria who are completely oblivious to
the plight of the people of the Niger Delta, to resort to blackmail in
order to derail a proposal to return 13% of the revenues generated from
the lands of the Niger Delta to the sons and daughters of those lands,
is preposterous and annoying in the extreme. We are compelled to state
the obvious, namely that the interest of Northern Nigeria is not
invariably the interest of Nigeria.

Is there any one with a working knowledge of Nigeria's political history
who doubts that had it been blessed with the oil fields that are the lot
of the Niger Delta, Northern Nigeria would have seceded from the
Nigerian republic many decades ago?

What, in fact, is one to make of the introduction of a Sharia criminal
code in many of the states of Northern Nigeria, other than to conclude
that it is what it appears to be-a constructive secession! Constructive,
not formal, only because they need the revenues they draw from the oil
of the Niger Delta, without which they would cease to be viable
political entities.

If the northern governors could rise not only to oppose Obasanjo's Bill
in whatever shape or form, but to call for the abolition of the Niger
Delta Development Commission ( NDDC), as they did, it should be clear
that they wish an end to their association with the people of the Niger
Delta. The problem, for which these governors are yet to find a
solution, is how to rid themselves of the people of the Niger Delta
without taking leave of the oil wells of the Niger Delta.

We want to stress to the Emir of Kano and the 19 Northern governors that
the interest of the North is not the interest of Nigeria. When it comes
to oil, the interest of the Niger Delta is and must be the paramount.
For justice and peace to reign in Nigeria, the Niger Deltans must be
given their fair share. Alternative is that the Niger Deltans must
choose to gain their freedom from Nigeria rather than live like second
class citizens in a geographical space called Nigeria.

History is replete with this and is on the side of the oppressed.
Recently, East Timor with less than a million inhabitants, fought for
and won her freedom from Indonesia, a country with a population of more
than 250 million people. The Niger Delta, with a population of
approximately 40 million people can employ the same formula. We call on
our Obongs, Obas, Amanyanabos, Olus and others to respond to the Emirs
and their subjects in kind. Otherwise their silence could be

Frederick Douglas, an American abolitionist, once said: "The whole
history of the progress of human liberty shows that all concessions yet
made to her August claims have been born of earnest struggle...It must
do this or does nothing. If there is no struggle there is no progress.
Those who profess to favor freedom, and yet depreciate agitation, are
men who want crops without plowing up the ground. They want rain without
thunder and lightning. They cant the ocean without the awful roar of its
many waters. This struggle may be a moral one, or it may be a physical
one...but it must be a struggle. Power concedes nothing without a
demand. It never did and it never will...The limit of tyrants are
prescribed by the endurance of those whom they oppress."

Fellow Nigerians, a Nigerian president has sown the wind. The harvest
could be the whirlwind. We must liberate ourselves and take our destiny
in our hands. It is true that those who make peaceful evolution
un-attainable make a revolution inevitable. There are too many wars
already in Africa. We, therefore, urge the National Assembly to override
the president's veto in the interest of justice and peace.


1. Tom Mbeke-Ekanem, General Secretary, Ibom Peoples Congress (IPC) USA,
 Los Angeles,
2. Mark Etukudo, Chairman, Ibom Peoples Congress, Los Angeles,
California, USA
3. Professor Etim U. Ubong, IPC Coordinator, Flint, Michigan, USA
4. Sam Udofia, Chairman, Nigerian Political Action Committee, Burke, VA,
5. Ms. Edemma Udo, London, England, UK
6. Macauley Nunu, President Itsekiri National Assoc, USA
7. Dr. Nsidide Ikpe, Chairman, Akwa Ibom State Association Board of
8. Professor Etim E. Eduok, New Orleans, Louisiana, USA
9. Sylvanus Akpakpa, Ex-National President, Akwa Ibom State Assoc. USA, 
10. Coalition of Petroleum Producing States of Nigeria (COPPSON), USA.
11. Ibibio Community, Inc., Washington DC, USA
13. Phillip C. Ofume, Ph.D. Halifax, Nova Scotia, Canada B3M 4H4
14. Mr. Orevaoghene C. Obaro, Stavanger NORWAY
EARTH,  Benin City, Nigeria
16. Uwem Inyang, London, UK
17. Chief Ime Ekanem, Chairman Uruan Development Association, USA
18. African American Education and Legal Defense Funds, Mims,
19. Bassey Ndem, Atlanta,Georgia, U.S.A.
20. E. M. Nanna, New Jersey USA
21. Sir Peter Umoh, -Secretary, National Board of Trustees, Akwa Ibom
State  Asso. of Nig. Inc.
22. Ita Udosen, MD, Chairman Niger Delta Union, USA
23. Nwigia Saro Nkesi (OGONI), Washington D.C., USA
24. Dr. Kienuwa Obaseki, Ann Arbor, Michigan, U.S.A
25. Rowland Ekperi, Vice President, Ijaw People's Association of Gt.
and Ireland
26. Anslem John-Miller, President, National Union of Ogoni Students
(NUOS  Int'l.), USA
27. Harry Suku, New Jersey, USA
28. Professor Peter Ekeh, Chairman, Urhobo Historical Society, Buffalo,
NY  14226, USA
30. Tari Dadiowei, Gbarain Deep Oil Field Landlords Association Yenagoa,
 Bayelsa State
31. Prof. Isaac J. Mowoe, Urhobo Historical Society, USA
32. Professor Joseph Inikori, Urhobo Historical Society, USA
33. Ezekiel Etukudo, St. Paul, Minnesota, USA
34. Wilson Inyang, Port Harcourt, Nigeria
35. Imelda Utuk, St Andrews, Scotland, U.K
36. Imeh J. Akpan, President, Akwa Ibom State Association, Houston,
37. Dr Phillip Ideawor: Edo Okpamakhin .UK
38. Eno-Obong Ekong, Chicago, IL, USA
40. Mike Essien, Saint Paul, MN
41. Professor Nkanta Frank Ekanem, Howard University, Washington DC
42. Daniel Ekong, Atlanta, GA, USA
43. Itata Itata Esq,Attorney at Law,Dallas TX,USA.
44. John Etukakpan, Saint Paul, MN
45. Dr. Enefiok David Ekpe, Pine Bluff, AR, USA
46. Akanimo B. U. Akpan, Washington DC, USA
47. Prof. Godwin T. Umoette, Regioal Coordinator, NIGER DELTA UNION,
48. 63. Wilson Akpan, Atlanta, Georgia, USA
49. Dr. Aniefiok Ben Umotong, Birmingham, England
50. Engr. Michael Ukpong, Los Angeles, California, USA
51. Dr. Augustine T. Ekwere, Somerset, New Jersey, USA
52. Effiong Okon, Port Harcourt, Rivers State, Nigeria
53. Etim Nduonofut, Troy, Michigan, USA
54. Engr. Uwem Usoro, Seattle, Washington, USA
55. Lawrence Aguiyi, Hartford, Connecticut, USA
56. Dr. Priye Christopher Torulagha, Ft. Lauderdale, Florida, USA
57. Dr. Leo Daniel, London, England, UK
58. Inibehe Enoadams, National Association for the Advancement of Akwa
Ibom  People, USA.


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This page was last updated on 10/27/07.