This message has being sent to President Barack Obama and former President Jimmy Carter in the United States.
As an American born and a descendant of the Niger-Delta in Nigeria, who has also lived in Nigeria for 16 years, I write to inform you about the need to intervene in the Niger-Delta crisis that would most likely be tearing Nigeria apart in a couple of months or years.
The discrimination against the Niger-Delta is so much that they are even worse off that the struggles of Black Americans in the United States, who at least have affirmative action and Civil Rights laws to hold on to. The Niger-Delta single handedly produces almost 98% of Nigeria’s revenue through oil, but are the poorest and have the most under-developed lands in that nation. Despite their oil wealth, many of their daughters, who should be in school, are one of the top prostitutes in Europe and their sons have become the criminals in many cities for survival.
In the United States as a college student, we used to organize reunions for Nigerian students across the country in the mid 1990s. The purpose was to bring us together to have a sense of home, exchange ideas, and come in contact with other students of similar ethnicity. One of the first activities of the weekend event was to organize the tables by states and give a shout out. My two years at the event, I noticed that there were no single female at Edo State tables. We just assumed that they may all be in Europe or did not attend. To our surprise, on the last day of the event when people start departing to their various cities, the females begin to identify themselves to the Edo males they saw at the State tables earlier. After further investigation, as the Nigerian culture expects us to start meaningful relationships at college, it showed that the ladies felt that they had a better chance disguising as a member of a major ethnic group to secure their males. They figured that it was more of an economical or political advantage to do so than to end up like their Niger-Delta fathers and uncles with little or no opportunities. Why must a daughter of the place that brings almost all of Nigeria’s revenue run away from home and socially change her name unofficially?
Nigeria is about to host the 2009 Under-17 Soccer tournament later this year and about eight venues have being chosen by FIFA for the event, but not a single city is located in the Niger-Delta. I will like to add that the first soccer world cup tournament Nigeria ever won was the same Under-17 tournament that was hosted in China in 1985 in which 10 out of the 17 players were from the Niger-Delta. We did not plan to dominate the team; in fact Nigeria did not take it seriously because it was the very first of its kind, and no one expected Nigeria to win anything of significance at the time. Now in 2009, just about 25 years later, the stadiums in the Niger-Delta are not worthy of being considered for the event that gave Nigeria its respect in soccer in the eyes of the entire world. Any civilized nation, considering the historical facts of the tournament and the economic value of the Niger-Delta to Nigeria, would have made sure than at least two highly equipped stadiums out of eight were renovated in the Niger-Delta area to host the event.
MEND, the movement for the Emancipation of the Niger-Delta has taken the gun and destroyed many oil facilities in order to protest their oppression by the rest of Nigeria (for not speaking up). I have chosen to take the pen because they say that the pen is mightier than the sword. I hope this pen will motivate you to get involved in putting pressure on the Nigerian government publicly to allow the States and Local Government Area (counties) to control their resources and pay tax to the Federal Government. Please act fast before the gun gets mightier than the pen in the Niger-Delta. I look forward to your response.