Re-thinking National Human Right Commission’s role in the Niger Delta
It is a time-honoured suggestion that during a period of rapid economic growth, nations, as well as corporate organizations, must continue investing even though it may not be clear how much investment is appropriate. Over investment is not a serious worry, since the excess is likely to be absorbed by future growth. By contrast, continuing low investment will not only be an error of judgement that development cannot forgive but amplifies the painful consequences of strategic mistakes.
Fittingly, the plight of the people of the Niger Delta region and orchestrated militancy which has become a painful consequence of prostrated neglect and low investments in the region by our leaders explain the above contrast and in order words, act as an essential step towards understanding action-decision, or error of judgment that currently perpetuates poverty, consolidates powerlessness and promotes restiveness in the region.
For close to six decades, nothing prevented successive administrations from developing the region both infrastructural and in manpower/job creation, yet, for reasons taken ahead of logic, they decided to act on the part of unprofitability- a choice that has become costly in political and economic terms for the nation. This is a lesson we must not allow to go with the political wind but keep in view even as we reflect on other causative factors and institutional attitudes that have left a big question about our nation unanswered.
Without a doubt, away from other institutional failures that have kept the region on its knees, what has really brought pressing concern, heightened the sense of insecurity and underlined the urgency of attention is the inability of the National Human Rights Commission to rise onto its constitutional responsibility to the people of the region.
A failure that has resulted in the generation of misinformation, disinformation, innuendos, falsehood and outright assault on reason(s) fueling backward nature of the Niger-Delta regions.
Notably, Nigerians have witnessed so many heartbroken families without a good record of survival in the region, as a result of government’s insensitivity.
The government on their part have made so many speeches and excuses without adoption of, or abide by the basic principles that helped other nations to grow in social cohesion through equitable sharing of benefits from the mineral deposits from the region. And, in the face of this verifiable violations and deprivations, the National Human Rights Commission- a commission on whose shoulder the nation rests the responsibility for promotion, protection and enforcement of human rights failed to inform the government that it is only through equity, justice, and restructuring of the nation that the country would enjoy economic and social progress that flows from stability.
The stunning thing about the Commission’s inaction is that it is happening when the global community is aware that communal rights to a clean environment and access to clean water supplies are being violated in the region, with aquifers and other water supply sources being adversely affected by industrial or other activities without the communities being adequately compensated for their losses.
And the oil industry by its admission has abandoned thousands of polluted sites in the region which need to be identified and studied in details. As a background, the National Human Right Commission which was established by the National Human Right Act 1995, has as its aim to; creating an enabling environment for extra-judicial recognition, promotion, protection and enforcement of human rights, in addition to providing a forum for public enlightenment and dialogue on human rights while facilitating the implementation of Nigeria’s various international and regional treaty obligation on human rights issues.