In an attempt to tackle the crisis in the Niger Delta region of Nigeria, the government set up a technical committee with the following terms of reference:
- To collate, review and distill the various reports, suggestions and recommendations on the Niger Delta from the Willinks Commission Report (1958) to the present, and give a summary of the recommendations necessary for government action.
- To appraise the summary recommendations and present a detailed short, medium and long term suggestion to the challenges in the Niger Delta.
- To make and present to Government any other recommendations that will help the Federal Government achieve sustainable development, peace, human and environmental security in the Niger Delta region.
The committee was inaugurated by the Vice President of Nigeria, Dr. Goodluck Jonathan on September 8th, 2008 with the following speech:
Let me begin by thanking all of you for accepting to serve in this very important national assignment. On behalf of the President and the Federal Government of Nigeria, I welcome you to our nation’s capital, Abuja.
At the inception of this administration in May 2007 we identified the crisis in the Niger Delta as a major issue that we must urgently resolve so as to bring about the much needed development and advancement to our dear fatherland. Our determination in this regard became manifest in Government’s early policy pronouncements and engagements, including the inaugural address of Mr. President, and also the articulated 7 -Point Agenda.
It is true that the crisis in the Niger Delta was not a creation of this administration. We have, however, taken upon ourselves the patriotic task of bringing to a close this rather sad and embarrassing chapter in our nation’s quest for stability, prosperity and good neighborliness. We believe that a fair, thorough and holistic resolution of the crisis in the Region will have a tremendous impact on our democratic aspirations and yearnings for good governance.
In the last fifteen months, we have immersed ourselves in encouraging the erection of very vital pillars that we are today very confident will help our collective efforts in bringing about sustainable solutions to the over five decade-old crises. We began by an assessment of the current state of the crisis in the Region and have since followed it with broad consultations with individuals, communities, constituencies, corporations and ethnic nationalities.
Although we have made some significant gains in the journey to resolving the crisis in the region, we cannot claim that we are satisfied. We are convinced that a declaration of satisfaction cannot come till a majority of Nigerians, especially the affected and impacted, say so.
We are in a democracy where the will of the people must prevail over the arbitrariness of a few. The resolution of the crisis in the Niger Delta cannot be done outside the Niger Delta and its people.The Federal Government will support the people of the Niger Delta and all men and women of goodwill in its efforts to bring smiles on the faces of all citizens that are dependent on the fortunes of the Region. It is in pursuance of this that we have gathered here to inaugurate the Technical Committee on the resolution of the crisis in the Niger Delta.
Ladies and Gentlemen, this is a very important assignment and time is of vital essence. I don’t believe, however, that the task will attract new research, field trips or lengthy debates.A majority of the information you may need are to be found in existing commission reports, suggestions, recommendations and position papers that may be forwarded to you by Nigerians. As you may be aware, this initiative of a Technical Committee on the Resolution of the Niger Delta Crisis is a suggestion from the people of the Niger Delta. The Committee, is, therefore, expected to collate, review and distill the various reports, suggestions and recommendations on the Niger Delta from Sir Henry Willinks Commission Report on the Fears of the Minorities (1958) to General Alexander Ogomudia’s Special Security Committee Report on Oil Producing Areas (2001) and on to the Report of the National Political Reform Conference (2005).
Wherever a report on the Niger Delta exists, and you can reach it, I urge you to have them ferreted out; examined as thoroughly as you can and make suggestions for Government’s necessary and urgent action. On behalf of the Government, I want to assure you that your recommendations will not be treated with levity.
A quick glance at the list of men and women who have been called to serve our country in this Technical Committee indicates that a majority of you are individuals who have made the resolution of the Niger Delta crisis a major plank of your daily existence. Some of you have done this through intellectual advocacy while others through peace building and development.
Let me use this opportunity, therefore, to remind you that you are not assembled here as representatives of ethnic, youth or union groups. The task before us concerns us all and transcends individual and special interest associations. You were nominated to this Technical Committee by the various State Governments and other civil platforms by virtue of the experience you have amassed these many years on the matter of the Niger Delta. I urge you, therefore, to work in harmony with one another and come out with suggestions that will make the people in the Niger Delta and a majority of Nigerians happy.
The Federal Government, through my Office, will provide secretarial services and other logistics. You are to appoint your own chairperson and secretary and also evolve the mechanisms through which you can bring about the necessary collation, findings and suggestions. Government will not interfere with the workings of the Technical Committee and expects that you will submit your report to it within ten days of your first sitting.
This is the season of dialogue. Upon the receipt of the Technical Committee’s report, the Federal Government will without undue delay put in place an all-embracing stakeholders’ framework to dialogue on the distilled recommendations raised by this Committee.
Great events are heralded by lights! I am confident that the dark patches in the Niger Delta will give way to light and we shall rejoice in due course. On this note, on behalf of the Federal Government of Nigeria, I hereby inaugurate the Technical Committee on the Niger Delta to the Glory of God and the urgent resolution of the crisis in the Region.
I thank you and may the Almighty God bless us all.
Read the full report in PDF format here: Niger_Delta_Technical_Committee_report