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Oct. 12: The Real Price of Oil: Human Rights Violations in the Niger Delta

A lecture by Patterson Ogon, Founding Director of the Ijaw Council for Human Rights in Port Harcourt and Yenagoa, Nigeria

When: Wednesday, October 12 4:00-5:00 PM

Where: IUPUI Cavanaugh Hall 438

As the price of gasoline has reached historic highs, many Americans have complained about the negative impact that high gas prices have on their personal finances. Residents of many African oil-producing countries, however, ask why they have not received any benefits from such windfall revenues. More than two-thirds of Nigeria’s oil is found in the land of the Ijaw people. Yet, the vast majority of Ijaws have no electricity and no piped drinking water. In December 1998, the Ijaw people set out their demands for self-determination and local control over natural resources in the Kaiama Declaration. The Nigerian state responded to their peaceful demands with a military campaign of repression and sustained human rights violations. The villages of Odi and Odioma were razed, thousands of Ijaws have been killed, and millions were effectively denied their right to vote in Nigeria’s fraudulent 2003 “democratic” elections. This presentation describes the current state of affairs in the oil-producing Niger Delta region, explores corporate and state complicity in human rights violations against the oil-producing communities and argues that the best way forward for Nigeria is through a system of local self government and resource control in a federation of ethnic nationalities.

Patterson Ogon is the Founding Director of the Ijaw Council for Human Rights, (ICHR) a Policy advocacy non-governmental organization in Nigeria’s Niger Delta and is the Associate Director of Our Niger Delta. He has worked on several intervention measures in community conflicts both within and outside of the Niger Delta. A 1990 graduate of Politics and Administration at the University of Port Harcourt, Nigeria, he has been trained in conflict mitigation and peace building both by the United States consulate in Nigeria and other institutions. He has participated in conferences and initiatives both within and outside Nigeria including Bread for the World on “The Challenges of Better Practice in the Oil Industry: Dialogue between European Civil Society Groups and Multinational Oil Corporations”, German based World Economy, Ecology and Development (WEED) initiative on “Strategic Alliances of Northern and Southern NGOs in Global Environmental Policy to strengthen the flow of information in the field of trade and environment. He is currently a Luce Residential Fellow at the University of California Berkeley.

Ogon Patterson's talk is sponsored by the IUPUI African and African American Diaspora Studies Committee and the Department of Political Science. We can thank "Chief of Light" Scott Pegg, who is a frequent and impassioned speaker about the damages wrought on the land and especially the people of Africa by the energy industry. Contact Scott to get involved in doing something to help.

If you like this event, you should check out ... upcoming discussions of Darfur and Randall Tobias's work fighting AIDS in Africa. You also might be interested in my talk about the global politics of water, another intersection of environment and foreign affairs.

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