Ann-Kio Briggs: Buhari has no plan for Niger Delta Development


Ann-Kio Briggs, environmental and human rights activist, and founder and executive director of non-governmental sAgape Birthrights is passionate about Niger Delta activism. The former spokesperson of the Ijaw Republican Assembly (IRA) as well as the United Niger Delta Energy Development Security Strategy (UNDEDSS), has said that the present administration of President Muhammadu Buhari has no plans for the development of the Niger Delta region.

Ann-Kio Briggs
Ann-Kio Briggs

Briggs in an interview with The New Telegraph accessed the Vice President Yemi Osinbajo’s recent visit to the Niger Delta and efforts made so far to address the needs of the region.

She said; Looking at the Vice President’s visit, I think it is very offensive at this very period, because every government that comes in would always want to visit Niger Delta. It shows clearly that they do not believe what they have been hearing.

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That is one. There is no evidence that anything positive has come out of any visits they have made – and they have made several visits through the years. I don’t have to enumerate them, you people should be able to know how many visits and the public do know them.

There is no time that any governmentwhether it was Ibrahim Babangida government that brought the Oil Mineral Producing Areas Development Commission (OMPADEC), the Olusegun Obasanjo government that brought Niger Delta Development Commission (NDDC), Umaru Yar’Adua’s government that brought amnesty and Goodluck Jonathan’s that continued the amnesty.

No one of the Federal Government’ representatives that have visited the region have that sincere desire from, Federal Government of Nigeria and some individual drives that policy and drives it very well. Umaru Yar Adua did very well; President Muhammadu Buhari has no plan for the Niger Delta. I do not believe anything that is being done about the region by this government.

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I for one do not believe it and I think all the people from all the ethnic groups who think the way I do believe this government is not serious about the region. So, in a simple lay man’s language, we do not believe in anything like what the Vice President has enumerated for us. We do not need the Vice President to tell us that the area is not developed.

The area has been undeveloped before he was born. So he did not need to come and tell us that because we knew these. That is why you have the agitations that we have in the region.

And he even said we should hold the international oil companies responsible for the underdevelopment of the area. This is ludicrous because the Federal Government whom the Vice President is representing owns 60 per cent of the shares of these international oil companies.

So why should we first hold 40 per cent shareholders responsible when the 60 per cent shareholder is doing nothing?

For me as a Niger Delta person, and as a stakeholder and as one who is speaking with the voice of millions of people from the Niger Delta, (because I know I cannot speak for all of them, because I don’t expect everybody in this region to agree with me, politicians will not agree with me especially if they are APC politicians, they will not agree with me), but that is neither here nor there.


But what is most important is what is good for my people and what is good for my region.

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As far as I am concerned, this visit will not achieve anything. Look at the Ogoni cleanup thing. First of all, Ogoni is just one little aspect of the degradation every Niger Delta person is suffering. Whether you are an Ikwere man, an Isoko man, an Itshekiri man, all of us are affected by the spill. Now we said if you want to clean up the whole spill, then, start with Ogoni, because that is the entry point as contained in the UNEP report.

Not this situation where they just came to Ogini because of election rerun in Rivers State, just pulled a piece of cloth across the face of a plague in a specific place and said the government has committed to the cleanup of Ogoniland. Almost a year later, the cleanup has not even commenced.

You can’t continue like this. You can deceive some of the people some of the time, but there is no way you can deceive all of the people all the time. Sooner or later, this argument will have to come to a head. We can’t continue like this, because for over 50 years, the Niger Delta people have been asking for just two things- justice and equity. Now, they are pushing us to a stage in a country that has no regard for us and our future.

While shedding light on the rise of the numerous militant groups in the Niger Delta region, Ann-Kio Briggs said; “why won’t there be so many militant groups in the region? I have told you that there are so many ethnic groups in the Niger Delta. And there are nine oil bearing states – the six Niger Delta states, Abia and Imo that are in South-East, and Ondo that is in South-West. Now these are in the two geo-political zones.

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Fine, they said they have found oil in Borno now and in Lake Chad, but are those in Niger Delta? Now that they found oil in Lagos and Yinka Folawiyo and co and handling it- is he in the Niger Delta?

Those things sound very ridiculous to us. Of course there are multiple ethnic groups in Nigeria. Just look at it, last Wednesday, there was a protest in a community in Delta State where herdsmen have been killing people and the women came out and blocked the road almost for a whole day. If that is done on day to day basis and week to week basis, Nigeria will grind to a halt, because even if they go to lift the oil, they would not be able to leave with the one they have taken.

These are the stack realities. Communities were attacked here in Nigeria on Christmas Eve you failed to do something and now you are sending troops to Gambia to restore a democracy you are not practicing in Nigeria. What type of country is this?


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