The Niger Delta Alternatives Convergence (NDAC) was established in 2022 by leaders, activists, communities and scholars after a period of careful examination of the socio ecological realities of the region. The process took stock of the impacts of over 6 decades of natural resource extraction in the region, and how it had shaped the existential realities of the people. It resolved to commence a campaign for addressing the key socio ecological concerns of the region, and make a case for restorative justice.  The NDAC was established as a Pan-Niger Delta forum for conversation, strategic decision-making, and action.

Obliged by the need for a consensus among the people of the region to restore the degraded environment and reclaim the dignity of the people, Health of Mother Earth Foundation (HOMEF), working with other CSOs and people of the region established the Niger Delta Alternatives Convergence (NDAC) in 2022 as a space for the peoples of the Niger Delta including ethnic nationalities, leaders of thoughts, traditional institutions, academics, CSOs, CBOs, faith-based organizations and community people to converge and have conversations around the issues (environmental, ecological, sociocultural, livelihoods, climate change, insecurity etc) in the region and together proffer practical recommendations that will restore the despoiled environment and the dignity of the people. 

The first and the second Convergences held in Uyo and Port Harcourt in 2022 and 2023 respectively. At the inaugural meeting, the NDAC adopted a strategy to reposition the Niger Delta and its several social ecological challenges as a critical national policy demand. This culminated to the adoption of the Niger Delta Manifesto for Socioecological Justice – a document that has since been endorsed by thousands as a regional advocacy and policy document.

The third Niger Delta Alternative Convergence took place in Abuja on Wednesday 19th of June 2024 and was chaired by His Royal Majesty, King Bubaraye Dakolo, the Ebenanaiewe of Ekpetiama Kingdom. Participants included the traditional ruler of Ayetoro community, Oba Oluwambe Ojagbohunmi (JP), representatives of the Pan Niger Delta Elders Forum (PANDEF), ethnic nationalities from the region, communities, academics, and CSOs. 

In his Welcome remarks, the Director of the ecological think thank organization, Health of Mother Earth Foundation (HOMEF), Nnimmo Bassey emphasized the need to break away from neocolonial extractivism. He noted that the Niger Delta region has been treated as  a sacrificial zone since in the early 1950s up until now, noting the extreme negative impacts of oil and gas extraction as well as the massive deforestation and various kinds of erosion of both the land and coastlines. Other impacts the region suffer from are access to potable water as a result of pollution of both surface and ground water, orchestrated organized crimes as well as loss of livelihoods. 

The crooked and crude divestment moves of the culprits – IOCs, their local collaborators and the Nigerian government was spotlighted. This entrenches and reinforces  the agelong despoliation of the region and was seen as a ploy to evadeaccountability and responsibility for the harm that has inflicted on the territory and peoples. The NDAC calls for a proper divestment framework as well as a region-wide environmental, social and health audits; amongst other demands. “The NDAC does not only highlight the huge challenges of the region, but also proposes clear pathways out of the quagmire. It is a critical space for propelling actions for the region, for transformation and creates template for action for other impacted areas in Nigeria and Africa. It about people and the planet,” he said. The Niger Delta unarguably is one of the most polluted places in the universe. This was the opening statement of the chairman of the third NDAC, King Bubaraye Dakolo. “This is our reality and it is our collective duties to raise our voices. The close to 70 years of oil and gas exploitation in this country has changed our very fabric as community people. Earning a living in the region is very difficult. These are realities made possible by extractivism in the region.”

The Monarch took a hard look at the Petroleum Industry Act (PIA) and called it an anti-peoples law which criminalizes communities. On the issues of the divesting multinational companies, he emphasized that we must have our environment restored before anybody takes a step. We owe a duty to hold them to account and that even if at the end of the day, they have to leave, there must be a clear programme for restoration.”

The goodwill messages and interventions while supporting the Convergence for its role in engendering justice in the Niger Delta, also amongst other things affirmed the need for government to go beyond early warnings for flooding and really act by resettling people impacted by floods and support the livelihoods of the people. Messages came from Emmanuel Kuyole of the Ford Foundation, Dr Emmanuel Akpanobong of Adaha Ibibio Elders Forum and Assistant National Organizing Secretary of PANDEF, Dr Ken Robinson of PANDEF. 

Prof G. G. Darah delivered a powerful solidarity message in which he stated that there cannot be a Nigeria without the Niger Delta – noting that the wealth of the region has been used to enrich other states of the country to the impoverishment of the Niger Delta. He also decried the economic colonization of the Niger Delta since 1969 in which Petroleum Decree Number 51 was made where the oil and gas belong to the federal government of Nigeria. This decree still stands till date, even after moving to civilian rule. 

The keynote address focused on: Almost Seven Decades of Hydrocarbon Extraction: Imperatives for Socio-Ecological Justice in the Niger Delta and was delivered  by Prof. Ibibia Lucky Worika. He posited that “lack of proper environmental accountability and integrity on the part of the oil and gas companies operating in this region over the decades has resulted in colossal damage to the environmental and human rights of local inhabitants. On the other hand, the failure of effective regulatory controls of the oil and gas operations has help worsen the situation. The address ended the with a poem by Hygenius Ekwuazi titled: Pictures I’ve Tucked Away in My Memory. The poem depicts the situation of life in the Niger Delta where people have been dispossessed of their lands and water – a sad tale that has become the lived experiences of the people. This was further buttressed with emphases by a panel session on: Living with Oil: Historical and Contemporary Realities of Hydrocarbon Extraction in the Niger Delta. 

Legal Alternatives for Socio Ecological Justice in the Niger Delta: Options for Divestment and the Petroleum Industry Act was discussed by Iniruo Wills Esq. The presentation identified three broad categories of people or entities: culprits, connivers and condoners; responsible for the huge ecological damage the Niger Delta suffers. Relevant frameworks and laws were examined with available legal actions and alternatives were presented. Some of the recommendations included: the adoption of the Bayelsa State Oil and Environment Commission (BSOEC), UNEP Ogoniland and Bodo Mediation Initiative models and replicate across the states; BRACED governors should have audience with the president to elicit urgent inauguration of the Niger Delta Environmental Assessment and Remediation Programme; BRACED governors should have audience with CEOs and beneficial owners of oil and gas companies to compel urgent action with a zero-pollution Accord; the Bayelsa State government must implement the BSOEC/Sentamu Report. He also noted as critical the need to be able to quantify the scale of losses suffered in terms of economic and noneconomic losses.

The NDAC resolutions include the  following: 

  1. Nigeria’s energy transition must be centered on community consensus to be just and sustain-able.
  2. Section 257 of the PIA should be expunged because it criminalizes the communities and passes the responsibilities of protecting oil infrastructure wrongly to communities that have neither the resources nor the capacity to carry out that function.
  3. Ecological remediation must be carried out by polluting companies and their land use rights should be revoked by the state governments if they fail to do so.
  4. There must be impacts assessment (environmental, health, economic and social) of the nearly 70years of oil and gas exploration and exploitation.
  5. The demands contained in the Manifesto must be taken to the grassroots to as a rallying demands in the Niger Delta
  6. Recognize that women are disproportionately affected and there should be conscious address their peculiar needs. 
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