[NUOS Intl] SOCIO-ECONOMIC DEVELOPMENT OF THE NIGER DELTA OF NIGERIA THROUGH US-NIGERIAN SISTER CITIES INTERNATIONAL EXCHANGE PROGRAMS

Eedee Ogoni nuos.intl at gmail.com
Thu Jul 12 22:35:24 EDT 2007


*SOCIO-ECONOMIC DEVELOPMENT OF THE NIGER DELTA OF NIGERIA THROUGH
US-NIGERIAN SISTER CITIES INTERNATIONAL EXCHANGE PROGRAMS*

by

ABIO-TONA SOKARI, MD, PhD, FRSH (Lond)

Chairman/Internat'l Director, Kansas City-Port Harcourt Sister Cities
Foundation, KCMO, Inc;

at

THE NATIONAL UNION OF OGONI STUDENTS (NUOS INTL.), USA, ANNUAL CONFERENCE,
SATURDAY, JULY 7, 2007, AT THE UNIVERSITY OF MISSOURI-KANSAS CITY DEPARTMENT
OF EDUCATION, KCMO, USA.



The Chairman, NUOS, USA;

Distinguished Guests

Ladies & Gentlemen

(All Protocols Observed)



I thank the Governing Council of the National Union of Ogoni Students for
giving me this opportunity to speak on the Socioeconomic Development of the
Niger Delta communities of Nigeria through International Exchange Programs
(IEP) of the US-Nigerian Sister Cities International. I am more pleased and
very hopeful this time because I had presented similar papers to other
groups like the Rivers State Foundation, Washington, DC (Salt Lake City,
Utah, Foundation Convention, 2005), the Rivers State Government Delegation
to the USA led by Dr. Peter Odili, then as the Deputy Governor (Kansas
City-Port Harcourt Sister Cities Signing of Charter, KC, Missouri, March 11,
1993), the OMPADEC Delegation from Port Harcourt, Nigeria, led by
Professor Songo Clifford Teme and Chief (Mrs) Mary Yanki (1995), and the
Government Delegations from both Bayelsa and the Rivers States, Nigeria, led
by the Executive Governor, Chief D. S. P. Alamieyesigha (Bayelsa State) with
eleven delegates including six State Commissioners and a Local Government
Area Chairman, the Mayor of Yenogoa, and the Deputy Governor, Rivers State,
Sir Gabriel Tobi with nine delegates (1999, see Appendix A, Activities of
the KC-PHC Sister Cities). I hope very well that this time the dynamic
leadership of NUOS, USA, will run with these recommended International
exchange action plans to the Rivers State grassroot communities for
implementation in the Niger Delta. While Nigerian students at home are
disillusioned by the uncertainties of their future due to the restiveness
and cultist activities brought on them by the corrupt governance at all
tiers of the Nigerian Government, I salute you, the organising members of
NUOS, USa, for the great foresight in nursing this brilliant idea of
organising this very timely Conference with the most relevant Theme in the
best interest of your home communities at the present political
dispensation in Nigeria.



The United States Sister Cities International (SCI) was established in 1956
by President Dwight D. Eisenhower to foster economic cooperation between the
United States of America and the peoples of the World through International
Exchange Programs. Today, there are over 2,400 Cities of 135 Countries of
the World twinned to US Cities. A specific example is Japan with 244Cities
affiliated to US Cities, while the whole of Nigeria has only 09 Cities
twinned to US Cities (see SCI Directory, 2006, US Sister Cities by
Countries). Should we then be surprised that Japan today is the second
economic giant of the World? Each year, Japanese delegates of the
educational departments, culture & tourism, municipal government &
leadership development, professional & technical services, trade &
investments etc; travel back and forth the different US Cities on Exchange
Programs, doing their businesses faithfully and dilligently. The communities
of the Niger Delta of Nigeria with Cities affiliated to their
UScounterparts can do the same and more than
Japan today considering the huge US investments in human and natural
resources, especially in the Niger Delta. One of the US Military African
High Commands is being planned to operate in the Niger Delta by September,
2008. Here lies the native intelligence of NUOS to closely study the
socioeconomic, military and diplomatic relationship of the US with
Nigeriaand take a good advantage of the SCI Exchange Programs to
foster their
intended goals as depicted in the components of the Theme of this august
Conference, 2007.



 The Kansas City-Port Harcourt Sister Cities Association (KC-PH Sc),
Missouri, has a concrete plan to provide Training and Service to the Niger
Delta Region of Nigeria regarding:

Government & Politics,

·                                 Agriculture & Economy

·                                 Environmental degradation including air
and water pollution

·                                 Financial matters and administrative
management

·                                 Health & Education, as they impact on
Socioeconomic Development, Conflict Management and Mitigation in the Niger
Delta.

Exemplifying strengths in each of the areas listed above, KC-PH Sc, Kansas
city, Missouri, and Port Harcourt, Nigeria officials and management leaders
are prepared to provide hands-on Training & Service to the Niger Delta of
Nigeria, through Town-Town Affiliation Programs within these conflict ridden
communities by fostering economic cooperation through Exchange Programs of
education & technology, professional & technical services, culture &
tourism, trade & investment, local government & leadership development and
energy & environmental affairs.

In the Niger Delta Region of Nigeria, Port Harcourt, the Sister City to Kansas
City, Missouri, should be one of the fastest developing cities in Africa as
the capital of Rivers State, which is considered one of the richest oil
producing states in Nigeria, now the third largest supplier of petroleum to
the United States. An estimated 40 percent of the Port Harcourt
Citypopulation is 0-16 years of age. Thus, two facts are
established--Port
Harcourt is the operational headquarters of the Nigerian petroleum industry
and it has a very young population. Therefore, the refineries, air and water
pollution, which initiate adverse agricultural, fisheries and health
concerns that will carry through adulthood, affect the overall future
strength of this formidable community.

Additionally, geo-political, socio-economic and administrative management
matters have long been conflict-inducing concern in the Niger Delta of
Nigeria (e.g.; the recent Ogoni and the Kalabari Crises). KC-PH SC, Kansas
City, Missouri, with its solid fiscal management, exemplary sanitation
system, Municipal Government & Leadership Development expertise and
demonstrated ability to address health issues, is prepared to employ
innovative methods to help the Niger Delta initiate good
governance-dependent Conflict Management and Mitigation. Further, KC-PH SC will
continue its exchange of information even after the program surrounding any
provided grants have concluded.

*Outline of the Plan:*

   1. KC-PH SC, teaming up with its US-Nigerian sister cities and the
   Niger Delta Communities like NUOS, MOSOP and the Niger Delta LGAs, will
   conduct an assessment study regarding the scope of needson each of the five
   areas-- Health & Education, Environment, agriculture & economy, governance &
   politics, as they impact conflict Mitigation and socioeconomic development.

   2. The assessment will be followed by an action plan to address each
   of the determined needs. The action plan will include:
      1. Workshops to provide professional development opportunities
      2. Technical Assistance to address management issues
      3. Exchange of information by developing professional
      relationships

 KC-PH SC, Missouri, officials and government leaders will travel to
Nigeriaand remain in the Niger Delta Local Government Areas including
Port
Harcourt, for a three-week span each year in order to directly guide the
stake holders in Nigeria.

   1. With each visit, an updated needs assessment of Training & Service
   will be performed
   2. Evaluations will be put into effect to determine progress in each
   of the five critical areas


   1. More Niger Delta officials and leaders as previously done by the
   Deputy Governor Peter Odili of Rivers, Mayor Nyeche Woluchor of Port
   Harcourt, Governor Alamieyesigha of Bayelsa, Sir Gabriel Tobi of Rivers, and
   the Prof. Cliff Teme-led delegates of OMPADEC, will travel to the City of
   Kansas City, Missouri, in order to learn first-hand how the city addresses
   health, education, agriculture & economy, government & politics, environment
   and financial issues.
   2. Kansas City, Missouri, officials including the City Manager,
   Director of the Water Department, Environmental Sanitation Engineers and
   City and County Health Officials will remain in open communication
   with their counterparts in the Niger Delta to assure that progress continues
   and that work will progress during and between the U.S. visits to the
   Niger Delta.
   3.  Projects will be sustainable even after any provided Grants expire
   because companies have already declared support to the unified project.
   **

*Innovative Concepts:*

The outline of this program is innovative because *(a)* this is the first
time that the Niger Delta will receive support from United States leaders
actually traveling to the country and remaining in the area to provide
hands-on Training & Service; *(b)* not only will Kansas City leaders travel
to the Niger Delta communities, but leaders of the Niger Delta will in
exchange visit Kansas City to see how health, education, agriculture &
economy, government & politics and environmental & financial matters are
addressed; and (c)  the US Sister Cities International (SCI) model of
Town-Town Affiliations implementing Exchange Programs on economic
cooperation and Youth Ambassadors across the troubled Niger Delta of Nigeria
will be instituted. Prior to this plan, the Niger Delta experienced no such
tools to promote its strengths in these five critical areas as they impact
Socioeconomic Development, Conflict Management and Mitigation.

*Track Measurable Results:*

 The State Statistics Division of the Rivers State of Nigeria will establish
plans for data collection and self-reporting systems under a
preliminarily approved USAID Seed Grant (to be followed up to full Award
Approval) on Intercity Links Programs, US Sister Cities International (SCI).
Combining its work with that of Universities in the Greater Kansas City
Metropolis where statistical studies have been mastered, The KC-PH SC will
start this program with a highly planned tracking system. Data collection,
reporting levels of satisfaction ranking from 0-5, and specific questions
directed to the grass roots population regarding their perceptions of the
improvement in the five areas as they impact Socioeconomic Development
and Conflict Mitigation will provide an excellent tracking system. It is
from this system that reporting mechanisms regarding any provided grants,
Company and Government funding annually will be established.

*Leveraging Additional Resources for Matching Funds—In-Kind and Financial:*

The process of attaining matching funds is already in progress.
Available are letters of support from Niger Delta Paramount Natural Rulers,
Higher Institutional Heads, leaders of Socio-cultural Associations,
etc.  Along with these generosities in cash and kind, the KC-PH SC, with
allies, the US-Nigeria Sister Cities, are committed to join the mission to
lend our training and services to the stake holders suffering from conflicts
emanating from corrupt governance, youth restiveness as well as management &
mitigation of such conflicts. Other health care professionals also through
Medical Missions will join us to deliver additional in-kind services,
especially in the areas of lifestyles, prevention and early detection of
preventable diseases with adequate intervention strategies and tactics. Some
of the short and long term activities on Medical Missions will include but
not limited to: i. Rivers State sponsored refresher Fellowships and
in-service training in the USA Sister Cities Medical Schools, of senior
clinical Medical Students, Interns, Medical Laboratory
Technicians/Technologists, Nurses & Physical & Occupational Therapists and
Information Management Service officials who will return to serve the Niger
Delta communities with improved expertise; ii. Rivers State sponsored
sabbatical leaves of interested Healthcare professionals, Rivers State
indigenes resident in the USA with their International counterparts, the
Christian Medical & Dental Associations, Physicians For Peace, Physicians
Without Borders and Pro-Health International (Nigeria), etc; to the Niger
Delta to provide Continuous Health Education, modern medical/surgical
procedures, current research methodologies, community health
surveys/immunization programs as well as demographic data collection and
publications; iii. encouragement of establishing more Niger Delta-US Sister
Cities between the Rivers State LGA Capital Towns like Bori, Buguma, Nchia,
Emuoha, Okrika, Bonny, Opobo, Ahoada, Abua, Gokana, Degema, etc; with US
Cities where Rivers State indigenes of these Towns abound for Exchange
Programs.

This illustrates just a segment of the Matching in-kind services and
available Government funds we can derive.

In-kind and cash contributions for environmental and petroleum exploration
concerns, another source of funding is also available. Since Port
Harcourtis the operational headquarters of the Nigerian petroleum
industry,
companies including, Chevron Texaco, Agip, Mobil, ELF Oil and Halliburton,
Kellogg, Brown & Root (KBR) are prepared to provide in-kind and cash
contributions. Combined with the petroleum industry, Port Harcourt also is
the commercial center of Nigeria. Steel, aluminum, pressed concrete, glass,
tires, paints and more are manufactured in this city. Leaders of these
companies understand that the burden of responsibility to clean up the
environment  (a major cause of conflict among the Niger Delta youths) rests
on their shoulders. If Port Harcourt and Rivers State of the Niger Delta
illustrate commitment to clean up the environment by placing sincere money
behind project and the companies know the city and state have strong
guidance from the US-Nigerian Sister Cities International including Kansas
City to start the process, industry will do its share to assist.

Other cash matching funds will come from the Federal and the Rivers State
Governments. Available Grant funds will provide an impetus for the Niger
Delta to utilize cash funds set aside to address the issues of Socioeconomic
Development, Conflict management and Mitigation through health, education,
agriculture & economy, government & politics and environmental clean-up and
financial management.

*Sustainability of the Exchange Programs:*

Items mentioned above and previous pages indicate how we will assure that
the flow of money to address these issues continues even after funding from
available sources like grants expire. For example, there is a Memorandum of
Understanding between the Rivers State Foundation, USA, Inc. and the
Amaranth Foundation in collaboration with the Pro-Health International,
headquartered in Nigeria. This attests to genuine commitment regarding this
segment of socioeconomic development, management and mitigation of conflicts
through health care. The Medical Mission led by Drs Abio Sokari (Kansas
City-Port Harcourt Sister Cities Foundation), and Linda Lawrence (Amerant
Foundation) to the Local Government Areas of Khana, Gokhana and Eleme,
2004/2005 where over 5,651 patients of various surgical, medical and
rehabilitative health conditions were treated attested to the great success
of the health segment of the socioeconomic development plan. Others are
continuing Conflict Resolution and Psychological Management  activities
undertaken by the Sons & Daughters of Buguma (SOADA), the Buguma Internal
Affairs Society, USA, Inc (BIAS) and the Movement for the Survival of the
Ogoni People (MOSOP), Greater Kansas City, Missouri, through delivery of
relief materials (school & educational utensils, food and rural healthcare
services) to cities and towns in the Niger Delta like, Port Harcourt, Bori,
Gokhana, Eleme and Buguma city (the recent battle grounds of the Niger Delta
Vigilantes forces, 2004. Additional letters of in-kind and financial
support in terms of international/intra-Cities travels, hotel
accommodation/lodge and other overhead logistics will be secured from State
Government functionaries, Petroleum Exploring Companies in the Niger Delta
and other NGOs/Philanthropists.

Kansas City, Missouri, has declared its continued support and guidance even
after the initial years of plan are completed. This partnership - the cities
of Kansas City and Port Harcourt, in collaboration with the US-Nigerian
Sister Cities in the Niger Delta and the industrial segment will make this
major project of Training & Service sustainable.



The achievement of the above goals and objectives on Niger Delta communities
development and conflict mitigation & management through Sister Cities
International Exchange Programs will greatly depend on the passionate
commitment of NUOS sustained participation through the Greater Kansas City,
Missouri Chapter of MOSOP in the activities of the Sister Cities Association
of Kansas City, Missouri (SCAKC), and the desired collaboration and consent
documents from the respective State and Local Government Areas of the Niger
Delta communities.

 ENDS

-- 
......................................................................
"We are going to demand our RIGHTS - Peacefully, Non-Violently, and we shall
WIN" - Ken Saro-Wiwa  (1941-1995)
......................................................................
NUOS Intl - Seeking solutions to the plight of indigenous students around
the world.
(www.nuos-ogoni.org ~nuos.intl at gmail.com ~ friends at nuos-ogoni.org ~
phone/msg - 773.250.7004)
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