NIGER DELTA MOURN

2008-12-03

The Ijaw nation in particular the Niger Delta in general received with sadness the news of the death of Professor Kio Don Pedro. Head of Department of Zoology, University of Lagos. We received the sad news with great shock and deep sense of loss, but we are consoled by the fact that he is returning to Almighty God to meet Isaac Adaka Boro, Ken Saro-Wiwa, Pa Dappe Briye, Dennis Febrisima, Pa George Oweikizi, Alfred Rewane, Melford Okilo, Mukoro Mowoe and Margaret Ekpo to constitute the Niger Delta council in heaven.

Professor Pedro was an illustrious son of the Niger Delta whose vacuum would be difficult to fill in the nearest future. Our region has lost an icon. Don Pedro was a quintessential intellectual who made a mark in his time when he faulted the military government of the late Abacha on the dredging of River Niger without environmental impact assessment (EIA) and the moral justification to build new inland port at Abuja when all the sea ports in the coastline of Niger Delta are dead without government effort to revive them. He was a simple, gentle man who was never afraid to risks to save his people, a virtue that gave him the boldness to be at the forefront of the struggle against the River Niger dredging. He was harassed intimidated and threatened by the military to reject the nomination of IMG coordinator, then publicity secretary of Ijaw national congress (INC) to lead the EIA experts when the matter was taken to court by IMG coordinator. But Pedro Vowed and preferred to face the military bullets than to betray his people to face environmental catastrophe. He traveled round the world to awaken the United Nations and the international community’s consciousness to the evil of the dredging which is meant to sink our region and repeat the Asia’s tsunami version in our environmental degradation through oil pollution and other damages by oil companies.

Today, Yar’ Adua’s administration has ignored that fears of the Niger Delta people that led to legal battle during the military by awarding contracts to commence the dredging we are waiting for them along the creeks as the legal fire works continue.

This indefatigable professor was the guest speaker during the opening of the first Niger Delta Hall of Fame in Lagos where the Ijaw Monitoring Group (IMG) inducted the photographs of over 300 personalities from the region who have contributed to the making of Nigerian politics, military, science, education, social, economy and other aspects of life and the world press at the occasion referred to him as an intellectual because of his thought provoking lecture.

He had presented papers around the globe on Niger Delta and was instrumental to the inclusion of lecture series on the Niger Delta in the cultural day celebrations of students in higher institutions.

Some of the repeated demands of this great leader in public forums that regrettably did not come to pass in his life time included amendment of the constitution and creation of more states. He has continued to insist that the 1999 constitution is an insult to our region and that more than twelve (12) laws put the inhabitants of the region in economic and social disadvantage. The 1999 constitution practically excludes us from ownership of property in our domain, a right it awards Nigerians in section 43. While section 44 provides for compensation for compulsory acquisition of property, section 44 (3) denies the people of Niger Delta this constitution right. Section 44 (3) states that the entire property in and control of all minerals mineral oils and natural gas in, under or upon and land in Nigeria or in, under or upon the territorial water and the exclusive economics zone of Nigeria shell be managed by the federal government of the federation and shall be managed in such manner as may be prescribed by the national assembly. This provocative apartheid system is a declaration of war on us.

Another unfulfilled dream of Prof Don Pedro before his departure was the creation of more states and local governments to hasten development. He had insisted that no meaningful development will materialize in our region without creation of more states and local government, adding that the fraudulent revenue allocation formula of the federal government favours former regional blocs contributing less income to the purse with state and local government.

His house and office which he named “The struggle square” was a meeting place of all categories of Niger Delta students around the world, treating every Niger Delta student like his own children because of his uncommon care inspiration and undiluted love was as his pursuit for a just and egalitarian society. According to the French General. Napoleon Bonaparte, “those who have changed the universe have never done it by changing officials but always by inspiring the people. “In his life time Prof. Kio Don Pedro inspired the younger generation and so doing, left his footprints on the sand of time.

We also regret that our professor died at a time the Federal Government decided to capture Henry Okah as prisoner of war, preventing him from medical treatment abroad despite a court order for proper medical treatment to save his deteriorating health condition. Confirming the fear of our people that he must have been poisoned by agents of government. His release remains a cardinal point in the peace process. He also left us at a time selfless and patriotic leadership is the bane of Niger Delta, making the days and our match to the Promised Land more difficult.

As the traditional 21 gun salute return Prof. Kio Noel Don Pedro to his ancestors in his hometown Abonema in kalabari kingdom of Ijaw nation, our hearts reach out to his beloved family he left behind.

May the almighty God soothe the pains of this great loss to his lovely family and the Niger Delta.

We urge the Rivers State government as well as other government of our region to immortalize this great man of our land.

 

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