Etche Ethnic Group in Rivers Decries Marginalization, Non-representation

June 28, 2014




Etche Peoples Liberation Congress [EPLC] remains a profound and formidable pressure front with widespread membership that cuts across all the communities in Etche and Omuma LGAs of Rivers East Senatorial District, South, South zone, Niger Delta Region. It is within the ambit of our primary objective to stand down all forms and formations of socio-political injustice and man-made environmental degradation affecting the sustenance of our ethnic block “ETCHE” and to reinstate the indissoluble sanctity of our dignity, equity, prosperity and posterity as a distinct ethnic nationality bearing oil and gas deposits in a large quantity. Therefore, acting in cognizance and furtherance of our inalienable Rights to Freedom of Expression, of Association and to Hold opinion as enshrined in Chapter Two, Section 39(1) of the Nigeria Constitution, which is adequately in conformity with Article 19 of the International Convention on Civil & Political Rights and the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, we make this Salient Bill of Declaration.


It should be noted that the people of Etche speaking echie language have been in existence as a dissimilar ethnic nationality even before the first map of Africa was produced by Portuguese Vasco Dagama in 1459, long before the Niger Coast Protectorate was colonized by Heweth led British government in 1884. Etche ethnic nationality with 29 political wards, three state constituencies, two LGAs, one federal constituency, and three first class chieftaincy stools, occupies a landmass of over 2000sqkm, and inhabited by over two million indigenous population sharing boarder with Imo and Abia states of the South East zone. Etche is termed as the most agriculture friendly and most hospitable oil and gas producing ethnic group in Nigeria were no dime from the security vote has been expended either by Federal or State government, and where there exist over 44years of protracted and uninterrupted oil exploration without recourse to global environmental best practice and standard. Etche by all standard and rating is larger than independent countries like Equatorial Guinea, Cape Verde, Malte, Brunei, Seychelles, Sao Tome and Principles, Gabon, Swaziland, Bahrain, Iceland etc, yet Etche people remain subjected to various forms of political marginalization, environmental degradation and social depravation. In terms of relevance and contribution to the national coffers, Etche ethnic block has remitted over $100 billion dollars through prolonged oil and gas exploitation by mainly SPDC in our domain since oil was first struck in Umuechem community in 1957 a year after oil was discovered in Oloibiri. But dismally, nothing is on ground throughout Etche land to prove anything other than justification of severe marginalization of the indigenous people by SPDC, Federal and Rivers state government. It is on record that since the amalgamation of northern and southern protectorate in 1914, no Etche son or daughter has been appointed into any of over 500 Boards, Ministries, Departments and Agencies of Federal government, or nominated for Ministerial position or Ambassadorial posting, despite the fact the ethnic brandishes over 20 active Professors, hundreds of PHD Holders, certified Professionals, Scientists, Technocrats, Lawyers, Engineers, Doctors both at home and in Diaspora. The marginalization of Etche people is also applicable to the Legislative and Judiciary Arms of government since son has ever been elected a senator in the red Chamber of National Assembly or served as a judge of any court at Federal and State level..

According to William Congreve (1670-1720) “defer not till tomorrow to be wise, tomorrow’s sun to thee may never rise”. It must be noted that late Chief H.E Nwuke played active roles during the post- colonial era where he served as a member of Port Harcourt Provincial Council, Chairman of Ahoada Provincial Council, Member of Eastern House of Chiefs, and Minster of State for Education in the defunct Eastern Nigerian government. It is worthy to also recount that Chief Jonah Akor was a member of Federal House of Representative in first republic covering both Ikwerre and Etche ethnic groups, while His Royal Majesty Eze E.N.B Opurum, OFR served as the highest ranking “first class chief” in the upland zone of the state 40 years ago and contributed immensely to the creation of Rivers state in 1967. However, despite our contributive stature, peaceful nature, hospitable gesture, and productive venture, there is no completed or functional Federal government project throughout Etche land, no single financial institution, no functional government hospital, no sports complex, zero support to our farmers, no higher institution of learning etc. Therefore harkening to Proverbs 20:18 that says “every purpose is established by counsel, and with good advice make war” we shall vociferously agitate and demand for the following.

A. Governorship and Senatorial positions, and seek for appointment of Etche sons/daughters in Federal Boards i.e. NDDC, NPDC, NNPC, DPR, PPMC, PTDF, PEF, NPA, NIMASA, NCDMB, NLNG, PPPRA, NESREA, NOSDRA, NDBDA ,Refinery etc.

B. Completion of all abandoned and ongoing government projects i.e. Igwuruta–Okehi-Okpalla road project, General Hospital(s) Schools, Health Centers, Sports Complex at Abara, Electrification projects etc.

C. Designation of Etche as Exclusive Agric Zone[EAZ] by Federal Government

D. Establishment of any higher institution of learning in Etche like, University,Polytechnic, School of Agric, Health Technology and Nursing etc.

E. Posting of NYSC members to Omuma LGA since peace has returned to the area.

F. Special Amnesty Program for Etche youths.


Let it be on record that the actual problem among plethora of extra- ordinary problems confronting Etche ethnic nationality is the multinational company under the auspices of Shell Petroleum Development Company [SPDC] that abused, confused, betrayed, preyed and predated on the goodwill of our people for over 52years of protracted and uninterrupted oil and gas exploration. According to the first principle of sovereignty “power and natural resources belong first and foremost to the people” whom the constitution scripted as the primary purpose of governance, but Etche people are yet to feel the impact of, fully harness or even benefit from the trappings of Bonny light crude oil sales either from Federal government or SPDC. The best of SPDC’s parting gift to Etche land remains episodic high profile cases of ethnic betrayal and serial environmental degradation, the multinational company has continued to flagrantly displayed chronic lack of capacity to give back to its host communities through Corporate Social Responsibility[CSR] hiding under audaciously nauseating Global Memorandum Of Understanding[GMOU], SPDC’s contemptuous insolence to community development and extreme pathology of dysfunction operating procedure in Etche land can be traced to gallows of fact that no single functional or beneficial project under any guise can be traced to its effort, or credited to its joint venture initiative. It is a glaring evidence that the bridge linking two major oil and gas producing communities housing SPDC’s major facilities “Odagwa and Owaza” has remained in a dangerous metal state for almost 50years, while the road with bridge space that was supposed to link two other oil bearing communities Igbo and Odagwa has been unhealthily abandoned to the vagaries of zero probability scenario. The roads in our oil and gas producing communities Umuechem, Igbo, Umuebulu, Ikwerrengwo, Abara, Ozuzu, Odagwa, and Okoroagu cannot be accessed during rainy season due to unprecedented level of dangerous road conditions that has defied moral expectations and accentuate the feelings of despair, desperation and frustration. The road network linking Etche oil producing communities under SPDC’s exploitative tendency besides not being accessible during rainy season can be rated as the worst among any community in any country with OPEC membership, not even in war-torn countries like Iraq and Afghanistan. Paradoxically, the same SPDC built 4.5 million dollars Eleme Regional Water Project, and SPDC joint venture with NDDC (70/30) also constructed the Ogbia to Nembe road with six major bridges and over 50 culverts across a difficult terrain. The first phase of the road alone is 38Km and links Imiringi to Ogbia and was completed in 2005 by SETRACO.

The continued presence of SPDC in Etche land, their lackadaisical and existential abandonment of the ethnic group in terms of community and human resources development remains a profound disservice, tempestuous, and injurious to the people of Etche ethnic nationality. SPDC has flagrantly disregarded the Gas flare-out Bill passed by the Senate of Federal Republic of Nigeria in 2010, and the November 24th 2005 Port Harcourt High Court order mandating SPDC to stop gas flaring in Etche land. It is also unfortunate that for over 52 years of prolonged oil and gas exploration, none of our son or daughter has ever been considered at any Managerial position or in a senior management cadre of SPDC, while none of our indigenous contractors has ever handled any significant project with SPDC worth mentioning herein. According to Elie Wiesel “there may be times when we are powerless to prevent injustice, but there must never be a time when we fail to protest” while a former British Prime Minister John Major noted that “recovery begins from the darkest moment”. Therefore SPDC has crassly violated our Fundamental Rights from Environmental Degradation as stipulated in chapter Two, section 17(2) (d) of Nigerian constitution; United Nations Declaration of Rights of Indigenous People, 2007; African Charter on Human and Peoples Rights, 1981, which all guarantees right to Freedom from pollution, environmental degradation and activities that adversely affect the environment, threatening life, health and wellbeing. With candid and emphatic assessment of Corporate Social Responsibility executed by AGIP, ELF, TOTAL, CHEVRON & MOBILE in their respective host communities, via a vis the CSR executed by SPDC in Etche land, the scenario will amount to grave and serious betrayal of the indigenous people of Etche ethnic nationality. The roads leading to all the oil producing communities in Etche land are in a state of unremitting rot and numbing sterility i.e. Chokocho- Igbo- Umuebulu road, Chokocho- Umuechem- Abara- Ozuzu road, Nnihi- Odufor- Akpoku road, Akwu- Mba road, Odagwa- Omuma road, Ulakwo- Akwa- Obibi- Akwu obuo road etc, and continues to promote poverty, misery and anger among the young and old populace. This is in gross violation of our Rights as captured in Article 12(2) of the International Convention on Economic, Social & Cultural Rights of Indigenous People, 1966. It is on record that SPDC indirectly ordered for the annihilation of hundreds of local people of Umuechem community including chiefs, women and youths in 1990, while all the communities playing host to SPDC facilities in Etche have witnessed one form of cyclic and serial crises that led to wanton distraction of lives and properties. Till date, SPDC is yet to make any form of compensation to Etche people in fulfillment of the laws of Federal Republic of Nigeria as captured in Petroleum ACT CAP 350 LFN, Pipeline Act 338 LFN, Petroleum Drilling and Regulation Decree, 1969, Public Land Miscellaneous Provision Decree 1977 etc. According to United States right activist, James Baldwin” there is never a time in the future in which we shall look out for our salvation, the challenge is in the moment, the time is now, while Herbert Spencer noted that “ the aim of education is not knowledge but action”. And this position conforms with our ideological base that the necessity for struggle is one of the device which nature forces on an ethnic nationality to expand, develop, progress and become stronger through resistance, and that more knowledge bring in its wake greater responsibility because right actions must follow. Therefore we shall use this premise to agitate and demand for;

A. $10 billion dollars compensation from SPDC for gross and wanton abuse of our goodwill and natural resources for over 50 years of protracted, prolonged and uninterrupted oil and gas exploitation in Etche land with abysmally nothing to show for our hospitality.

B. The end of gas flaring within the Etche land.

C. SPDC must vacate from Etche land, and this agenda we shall not founder or flounder with, but pursue with unflinching temerity and unabated vigor.

D. Construction of a standard road to link all our oil and gas producing communities.


It will be of immense interest to state that the actual sacrifice of the Niger Delta agitation aside from the Adaka Boro era re-emerged in Odagwa community in Etche in 1981, and culminated to the annihilation of peaceful demonstrators in Umuechem community in 1990, long before the Oron Bill of Right,, Ogoni Bill of Right, and Kaiama Declaration of 11th December 1998. In terms of land mass, strategic importance and oil production capacity (onshore), Etche remains the largest minority ethnic block in the whole Nigeria. It remains an emphatic absurdity and utterly incomprehensible that despite our huge sacrificial contribution in the areas of food production, natural gas, and Bonny light crude oil that has run uninterruptedly for over 52years, Etche ethnic group is yet to be captured fully as an oil producing ethnic block at the Federal, Legislative and Judiciary arms of government, not even in terms of appointments or the much acclaimed Amnesty Program. As Thomas Jefferson, former USA President posited in a speech he delivered in MaryLand in 1809 that “the care of human life and happiness not their destruction is the first and only object of good governance, therefore Etche people being in a crucial stage of human civilization must put all hands on deck to understand and manage the complexity of its natural environment. Etche people must intellectually guard against repugnant and ruinous activities squandering the ecology, topography, geology hydrology and hydrodynamics of our natural environment, and the worst of such activity is the unregulated sand mining conquest ravaging most Etche communities at present. The crux of the matter that heightened our fears is that for over 52years of uninterrupted oil exploitation in Etche land, the tripod benefactors of our natural resources Federal Government, Rivers State Government and SPDC are yet to either initiate or produce a comprehensive Environmental Impact Assessment[EIA] Report, scientific examination of the environment, or other supportive measures like training, education, financial and technical support, or geo-technical survey, or updated water quality monitoring, or baseline studies, or preliminary seismic data interpretation, or integrated program of petrological and geo-chemical studies which are meant to guide present and future oil exploration conquest in land. Winston Churchill noted that “those who refuse to be guided by the radar of history shall eventually be thrown out by rocks” while Martin Luther King Jnr, wrote that “our lives begin to end the day we keep silence about things that matter. Etche oil producing status and contribution to the sustenance of democracy in Nigeria has been degraded and downgraded by unforeseen centripetal and centrifugal forces ghoulishly working against the interest and progress of the ethnic. Our youths are the ones securing the networks of pipeline that transverse the nooks and crannies of our land without any incidence of pipeline vandalism, but the billons of naira accruing from the pipeline surveillance contracts has continued to elude them, and this lives us in a profusion to ask questions. Therefore we shall not fail to agitate for;

A. Comprehensive EIA and EBS Report on Etche land.
B. Creation of two more LGAs, and one more state and federal constituency.
C. N10 billion ecological funds to address age long environmental neglect.
D. Identify with our kins in Imo and Abia State.


The people of Etche ethnic nationality shall endeavor to sponsor vibrant, altruistic and visionary leaders with proven integrity to hold political positions on behalf of Etche people and no more sanctimonious amalgam of ineffective and witless “ my pocket” politicians with gargantuan ambitions and appetites far exceeding their abilities. It was Brain Browne, Author and Journalist who captured it well when he posited that “empires crumble because their latter sons know neither how to led or be led”. Etche people shall not allow “politick–cians” of lax mental culture and inferior sensibility who lack the sagacity and foresight to represent our over marginalized ethnic group, whose actions degenerate and stagnate the prosperity and posterity

of Etche land. The dire dissembling irony is that Etche people are in the dark on what our common patrimony from monthly Federal allocations to Etche and Omuma LGAs, and other intervention funds like SURE- P and Royalties from multinational companies has been used to achieve or actualize since the advent of this democratic dispensation in 1999. The present crop of political leaders elected, appointed or nominated to represent us have allowed their personal interest to be in constant and consistent conflict with their duties and responsibilities, which has flooded their sense of judgment. Dwight D. Eisenhower stated that “people that value its privileges above its principles soon lose both”, while Martin Luther King Jnr. noted that “change does not roll in on the wheels of inevitability but comes through continuous struggle”. It will also be of interest to mention that the United Nations Stockholm Conference of 1972 which resulted in the Declaration of June 5th of every year as World Environment Day, UNESCO and UNEP International Environment Education Program of 1975, Intergovernmental Conference on Environment Education held in Tbilisi USSR in 1977, Rio Earth Summit held in Brazil in June 1992, Okyto Protocol and Earth summit held in South Africa in 2002 are all part of the coordinated global mobilization to save the earth from wanton destruction by those who profit at the expense of the people. The ranging and ravaging unregulated sand mining conquest in Etche land has become proportionally cancerous due to the connivance of ministry of Environment officials, a quack consultant, and unscrupulous sand merchants in gross violation of our Rights from Environmental Degradation as stipulated in chapter Two section 20 of the Nigerian constitution. The duplicitous sand dredging cabals continue to predate on Etche sand through protracted sand mining activities that has remain resonating and resounding in several communities without recourse to Environmental Impact Assessment and other safety regulations. The conquest and hunt for Etche sand has continue to defy and defer reason, and the staid manifestation of the dire consequences of unregulated sand dredging in Chokocho, Igbo, Umuechem, Abara, Ozuzu, Umuanyagu, Okomoko, Egwi etc have evinced gamut of empirical evidence that is threatening to wipe out the entire road network of the affected communities. The convoluted posture and nature of unlawful sand mining venture and adventure by sworn enemies of Etche has further attracted hundreds of wobbling and poorly maintained trucks that exert excessive pressure on the already dilapidated road network, and also produce unimaginable noise and air pollution that has continued to over stretch the surface of our woes as a distinct ethnic block. Dr. Nnamdi Azikiwe noted that “show the light and the people would find their way”. Therefore we shall demand for the following;

A. One billion naira compensation from sand mining cabals for gross and crass violation of our Right from Environment Degradation, and also seek to end unregulated sand mining activities in Etche land.

B. For the completion of all on-going projects in Etche and Omuma LGAs.

C. Designation of Amadioha Ozuzu shrine as world heritage site by UNES CO.

Com Japhet A.C Ogbueri, ACAI,
National Leader, Etche Peoples Liberation Congress[EPLC]
[email protected]