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ALI-OGBA :LEGEND OF ORIGIN, INDIGENOUS POLITICAL STRUCTURE, AND ECONOMY *

Introduction:

    Ali-Ogba, located in the central Orashi-Sombreiro plains of Rivers State, Nigeria, is one of the major producers of the oil that fuels Nigeria’s economic development in recent decades. In his book, Ali-Ogba, Ellah posits that “according to current oil company records, no local government in Nigeria produces as much crude oil and gas as the Ogba/Egbema/Ndoni (ONELGA) local government (Ellah 1995) 

   As a result of the oil industry, Ali-Ogba has undergone significant political, social, economic and environmental changes during the past several decades. However, despite its image as one of the main contributors to the wealth of Nigeria, there is a lot of poverty in many communities resulting from unemployment, under-employment, low wage jobs and deterioration of the natural resource base.

   At the same time that Ali-Ogba makes very significant contributions to the country’s economy, this oil producing area has remained economically marginalized and left in the backwaters of the country’s socio-economic and political development. This poses dilemmas for Ali-Ogba people. For example, while the oil industry in Ali-Ogba creates jobs and wealth, these benefits are not equally accessible to many Ogba people and many other Rivers state communities, compared to other Nigerians. This state of affairs in the oil producing communities of Rivers state prompted the Governor, Dr. Odili to speak out this past February urging oil firms to stop giving employment to non-natives at the expense of the indigenes of the areas of their operation. In the Governor’s own words:

“It is difficult to explain to a petroleum engineer from Rivers State who has been out of  the university for five years and out of work, that sees his contemporaries during the youth service years, fly in from other parts of the country where there is no oil, coming to man the PHRC for him. It is equally difficult to explain to him that the industry that is behind his house, is being dominated by people who are less qualified than him (the Rivers man)”(Daniel, 2004)

    In addition to environmental degradation and a rapidly depleting natural resource base that contribute to   poverty, the area is witnessing social disorganization caused by competing value _________________________

1  Ellah, F.J. (1995) Ali-Ogba: A History of Ogba People Enugu, Fourth Dimension Publishers, p4

2. Daniel, Soni (2004) The Punch, Port Harcourt, Nigeria, Feb. 19, 2004 (Reporting on Dr. Odili’s comments during the visit Dr. Sola Ayan-gbile, Managing Director of  PH Refining Company to his office. 

* Professor C.V.Izeogu, Ph.D. Abridged and partly up-dated  version of paper prepared for presentation at the  First Annual Convention of UmuogbaUSA at Wellesley Airport Hotel, Atlanta, GA. USA May  24-26, 2003, systems. A related dilemma is that although some oil producing communities have benefited from oil company jobs and contracts, many of these economic benefits have not been widely spread. As a result, these communities are lacking in many indicators of local economic development.

The purpose of this paper is to highlight the challenges that Ali Ogba faces that must be addressed if it is to benefit from the economic resources produced from its land and achieve sustainable development. The objectives are to draw attention to:

-  the common heritage and destiny as well as resource potentials of Ali-Ogba,

-  the role of Ali-Ogba in fuelling the Nigerian economy,

-  the forces robbing the communities of their capacity to strive for meaningful development, and to

-  challenge Ali-Ogba communities to demonstrate awareness of its assets and threats, a high level of political consciousness and a sense of community unity,  forge the necessary alliances and engage all stake-holders in the area so as to  benefit from the oil resources produced from its land and achieve sustainable development.

11.        Historic and Geographic Context

Ali-Ogba people have some socio-cultural and political legacies that reinforce their common origin and bind them together as a people with common heritage and destiny. These include: geographic location, migration routes, language and political structure.

Geographic Location and Natural Environment:     

Geographically, Ali-Ogba stretches from about 4 50 N to 5 30’N and extends from about 6 25 E to about 6 40’ E. Spatially, it covers an area of 920 sq. km in the northern part of the Niger Delta region located within the River Niger flood plains.. It is bordered on the west by the Orashi river and on the east by the Sombreiro river. In addition to the main drainage systems, there are the Omoku river and many back swamps, cut offs and interconnecting streams which form a maze of drainage channels superimposed on the area. At the peak of the rainy season, these interconnected waterways are a prominent feature of the landscape.

  Its location in the Sombreiro-Warri deltaic plains, which consists of coastal plains sands and other tertiary deposits – marine, mixed, and continental deposits typical of deltaic environments situates it in the rain forest zone of southern Nigeria.  .

The area can be divided into four ecological zones:

         The Sombreiro river plains (eastwards)

         The Orashi river flood plains (westwards)

         The central well drained lowlands and farm mosaic (between the Orashi and Sombreiro rivers

         The non-tidal freshwater swamps basin.

The highest part of  Ali-Ogba is the well drained lowland and farm mosaic with altitude ranging from 15m to22 m. In general, the land is characterized by a gentle sloping topography of less than 10 degrees in many areas. This relatively low altitude gives the area its characteristics flat and monotonous low relief interspersed by many wetland (swamp /creek basins), which crisscross the central low lands and empty into the two main river systems (Sombreiro and Orashi)

            As a result of its geographic location, Ali-Ogba enjoys all year round high temperatures averaging 80 degrees Farenheit in the day with over night lows ranging from 65 to 70 degrees. Also, the area has at least ten months of rainfall totaling over 80 inches per year with very high humidity in the summer months. The climatic conditions and topography support a wide variety of plant and animal life. The flora consists of economic trees especially oil palm trees and a variety of  plants species of great  pharmacological value as human elixir.

Legends of Origin

Ali-Ogba communities  constitute one of the minority ethnic groups of Nigeria and share common ancestry, socio-cultural elements and heritage. Oral history and folklore have it that Ali-Ogba people migrated to what is now called Ali-Ogba from the area of the then Benin Empire across the Niger about the 16th century. In his book on the history of Ogba published in the1950s, Ewo stated that two Ali-Ogba and Ekpeye communities __________

1 According to Professor Alagoa, the Ogbakiri Ikwerre also relate their founding ancestor, Ekenta, to the Benin tradition. See  Alagoa, E. J. (1990) ed. Land and People of Nigeria: Rivers State share a common ancestor, Akalaka, who migrated from the old Benin kingdom 1(Alagoa, 1990).  However, archaeological evidence suggests that the present Ali-Ogba was occupied by people long before he time of the legendary migration of the ancestral

father, Akalaka, from Benin. For example, the area around Obrikom (Egbekwu and Obie) perhaps was inhabited first about 3015 B.C.; Ikiri about 2015 B.C.; and Omoku about 2815 B.C.(Ellah, 1995)  According to Ellah, “by 15 B.C. and 235 A.D. these settlements had become stable .. the inhabitants were killing large animals and fish .. .yam was a staple food”5. Also, iron works was known in the area (most probably at Obrikom) about 235 A.D.(Ellah, 1995)

It is instructive to know that the ancestors of present day Ali-Ogba communities and the constituent extended family systems (obodos)  migrated to Ali-Ogba at different times through four main migratory routes: South-northerly; North-southerly; East-westerly and West-easterly during the period 3015 B.C. to  circa 1600 A.D.(Ellah, 1995)

Figure 1. Migratory routes of  people of Rivers State

                                                               

Source: Alagoa and Kiebel (1989) “Traditions of Origin” in Land and People of Rivers State

Available accounts of the origins of Ali-Ogba communities and their unique cultural characteristics and affinity lend credence to their common ancestry or ‘brotherhood’. Based on common historical experiences and culture, especially language, Ali-Ogba people also exhibit some relationships to other communities in Rivers state and other parts of Nigeria. For example, on the basis of culture and language, some linguists such as Professor Kay Williamson of University of Port Harcourt posit that Ali-Ogba people belong to the Lower Niger (Igbo related group) among the six language units making up Rivers state. 2.  Ali-Ogba communities have  a close linguistic relationship to Igbo spoken by people of present Abia, Imo, Anambra and Enugu and Eboi states who constitute the eastern and northern neighbors of Ali-Ogba people.  Also, there is some evidence of language similarity between Ali-Ogba communities’ dialects and those spoken by Agbor and Kwale communities in present day Delta state.

The conclusion that can be drawn here is that people of Ali-Ogba communities in Rivers state are closely related and face common destiny. Some people have postulated that  Umudioga ancestors came from Ali-Ogba. So were ancestors of Rumuogba (sons of Ogba) communities and Rumuoprikom (sons of Obrikom  the ancient capital of Usomini group of villages). Also, linguistically and culturally Ali-Ogba communities are related to other Nigerian people. Their present area of settlement within plains of the Orashi and Sombreiro rivers is rooted in their ancestral history and geography. The Ali-Ogba communities’ settlement in their present location, and their cultural relationships with other adjacent communities in Rivers and Imo states with whom they trace their roots to the old Benin empire more or less define their identity. _____________

2 Of course, not only Ogba people link their ancestors to Benin. Alagoa and Kieble (1986) indicate, “the most common place of origin cited by communities of the Ijo group outside the Niger delta is Benin. These communities include Nembe, Beni, Tarakiri, Kabowei, Kumbowei and Mein, Kolokuma, Opokuma, Ogboin, Ekpetiama, Okordia and Oporoma. The same is said of the Delta Edo groups of Epie, Engenni and Udekama (Degema). The communities in the Igboid group are: Ekpeye, Ikwerre, Etche, Egbema, Ndoni and Ndoki. The other language units include: the Ijo, the Ogoni, the central delta group, the Delta Edoi group and the Lower cross River group.

III  Ali-Ogba Socio-Political Organization and Population Change:

 Socio-Political Organization

Table 1: Ali-Ogba: Some Kindred groups, titles and greeting address

ONU OBODO

(kindred’s Lineage

Political title

Greeting Address

Community Group

Town/Village

Umuezeali or

 

Agburu Umuokpraeme

Okparaeze

(prince)

Ezeali

Ajie Ikeoha

(Commander)

Nwaezeali or Nwaogbowu

Omoku

Obieti

 

Obakata

Ihiukwu

Uriem

Imeagi

Iyasara

(Prime minister)

Nwaogbowu

Omoku

 

Egi

Obieti

 

Obagi

Umuorodu

AgwoloUmueke

Isikloko

Umuimegi

Umueke

Owerri

(Guard, Commander. Aide-de camp)

Nwa-Ngwoh

     or

 Nwa-Osikpa

Omoku

Omoku ;Egi

Egi

Omoku

Omoku

Obieti

Usomini

Akabuka

Ogbuta

Obakata

Umu-nkaru

Umu-Oyoro

Umu-Obah

Umu-Akpa

Umu-Chi

Uchi

Akogu

(loyal leader)

Nwa-Onuotu

Omoku

Omoku

Omoku

Egi

Egi

Egi

Obieti

Usomini

Obosi-I

Oboburu

Oboburu

Erema

UmuEbe

Akpa

Edi-Ihuru

Imeagi

Umu=Iyasara

Nwadei, Nwaogbuehi

(king)

Nwa=Ogbuehi

Nwabida

Iyasara

Omoku

Egi

Egi

Egi

Omoku

Obieti

Oboburu

Akabuka

Ede

Usomii

Umuohali

Umu-Alinwah

Ewo

(peace maker)

Nwa-Ewoh

Egi[ Omoku

Omoku

Ede; Obite

Usomini; Obakata

Umu-Agbidah

 

Nwa-Agbida

Omoku

Uju

Umuosia

Omodi

 

 

 

Obosi

(Umuoba)

Ojoka

(hawk)

Onuotu

 

 

Sources: Ellah (1975) ; Ogbowu (1972)

Every Ali-Ogba person  belongs to a politico-cultural organization (Onuobdo)  and every  Onuobdo occupies a traditional position in the political organization of Ali-Ogba which has been preserved to this day. Every Onuobdo has its own distinct titles which have political, social and economic implications. The membership of  Onuobdo and its associated  title or “praise name” is expressed in one of the most important aspect of Ali-Ogba cultural and political legacies:  the traditional greeting (Idu Isiali). When a member of an Onuobdo bows in the traditional greeting (Idu Isiali), he or she is praised with the appropriate title of his or her Onuobdo.

The ‘Idu-Isiali’ or traditional greeting is an important cultural obligation of a full- fledged indigene of Ali-Ogba. To perform the greeting properly, you must know the Onuobdo of the person you are about to greet as well as the appropriate praise name or title of distinction for his or her Onuobdo. In addition, you must know the age-grade of the person to be greeted because a younger age-grade should initiate the greeting with the following exceptions:

        Whatever may be a person’s age, he or she will initiate the greeting or “bow” to every member of his or her mother’s Onuobdo, except the very young persons

        A man and his agnatic relatives will initiate the greeting or “bow” to the agnatic relatives of his wife or wives

        A man will “bow’ to the wife or wives of an elder member of his own Onuobdo

        All female members of  an Onuobdo should “bow” to all members of the same Onuobdo irrespective of age, except those from their own immediate extended family

        Members of the same age-grade bow indiscriminately among themselves

      In Egi section of Ali-Ogba, the traditional greeting (Idu-Isiali) by persons versed in the traditional greeting ceremony in a gathering is embellished with a rap depicting the philosophies of the person who initiated the greeting. A traditional ruler or “king” in Ali-Ogba does not respond to “Isiali”. Instead, the greeter praises the traditional ruler with his royal title bowing or genuflecting slowly while the ruler responds by praising the greeter with his “Onuobdo” traditional title.

Population and Settlement Patterns

        Ali-Ogba people fall into three main village or community groups: Egi (meaning  dry land), Igburu (meaning swamp or wetland) and Usomini’ (meaning water side) consisting of about 14 extended family systems. The lack of consistent census records in Nigeria over the years makes it impossible for any one to be authentic about the population of Ali-Ogba communities. However, available census data shows that in 1927, Ali-Ogba had a total population of 20, 292 consisting of 5479 male adults, 6203 female adults, 4114 boys and 4191 girls.(Ellah, 1995) The population increased to 20,930 in 1935. The distribution of Ali-Ogba population in 1935 by villages/towns is illustrated in table below.  

            Table  2:Ali-Ogba: Population Distribution by Village/Town Communities (1935)

SECTION

Village/Town

Population

Number of Extended Families

Composition of Village/Town Council

EGI

Akabuka

1000

6

6family heads & 1

elder from each family

 

Akabuta

180

1

Family Head / 1 elder

 

Ede

370

5

5 family heads + 2 elected elders

 

Egita

240

2

2 family heads

 

Erema

1240

9

9 family heads

 

Ibewa

130

6

6 family heads

 

Obagi

400

3

3 family heads & 3 elders

 

Obigbo

200

2

2 family heads

 

Obiebe

220

4

4 family heads

 

Obiosimini

100

2

2 family heads & 4 elected members

 

Obite

420

5

5 family heads

 

Oboburu

1300

8

8 family heads & 8 elected members

 

Obukaegi

300

4

4 family heads

 

Ogbogu

1000

10

10 family heads & 1 elected member from each family

 

Ohalielu

200

2

2 family heads

 

Itu

70

1

1 family head

IGBURU

Agbada

420

6

6 family heads

 

Ama

300

3

3 family heads & 1 junior man from each family

 

Abogoro

70

2

2 family heads

 

Elehia

170

2

      Ditto

 

Elieta

200

4

4 family heads

 

Ikiri

330

3

3 elected elders

 

Obigwe

130

4

4 family heads

 

Ogbidi

210

3

3 family heads & 1 junior elected man

 

Ohiauga

160

4

4 family heads

 

Obor

370

4

4 family heads

 

Okansu

280

3

?

 

Okpurukpuali

180

5

5 family heads

 

Oshiakpu

250

1

Family head & 3 elders

 

Uju

150

4

4 family heads & 1 elder

USOMINI

Aliozo

170

1

Family head & several elders

 

Idu Obisobele

520

6

6 family heads

 

Idu Obisuku

400

   ditto

    Ditto

 

Kreigani

320

3

3 family heads

 

Obie

250

3

3 family heads & the Ezeali

 

Obrikom

1600

7

7 family heads & 2 elders from each family

 

Ohalimini

140

1

  ?

 

Omoku (Obieti)

(Obakata)

(Usomini)

6200

6

   ?

 Source: Ellah (1995) culled from District officer, Stanfield, Intelligence Report, 1935

The table shows 16 villages in the Egi community with a total population of 7370. The population ranged from 1240 for Erema to 70 for Itu. In the Igburu community with a total population of 3960 for 15 villages, it ranged from 740 for Okposi  to 70 for Ebogoro. The Usomuni group consisting of Omoku town and 7 villages had a combined population of 9600. The population of Omoku town was 6200. Among the Usomini villages, the population ranged from 1600 for Obrikom to 140 for Ohalimini.

            In the Nigerian census of 1953, the population of Ali-Ogba was given as 51,249. It increased to 53,056 in 1963 making it one of the largest in the former Ahoada Local Government Area (ALGA)  The 1963 population of Ali-Ogba  represented 3.6% and 0.11% of the population of Rivers state and Nigeria respectively. In 1984, it comprised 94,961 people out of the projected 105,512 population of the former Ogba-Egbema LGA. Its population then represented 30.0% of ALGA. As Ellah indicated Ali-Ogba’s population  was estimated  at 100,000 in 1995 representing 0.1% of the Nigerian populaion.(Ellah, 1995) Based on the  1963 census figures, and an annual growth rate of 3.0%, the population can be estimated to have increased to 157,205 in 2002. The growth and distribution of Ali-Ogba population by community groups (Egi, Igburu, Usomini, and Omoku town) are shown in table 4  and figure 2. 12

 Table 3:  Ali-Ogba Distribution of Villages/Towns by Population Size (1953)

Population  Size

Number of villages/towns

Percent of

Towns/villages

Cumulative total/percent

Villages/ towns

 

Up to 250

8

19.51

 

 

251 – 500

19

46.34

27   (65.9%)

 

501 – 750

4

9.75

31 (75.65%)

 

751 – 1000

2

4.88

33  (80.53%)

 

1001 – 1250

1

2.43

34  (82.96%)

Akabuka

1251 – 1500

1

2.43

35  (85.39%)

Okposi

1501 – 1750

2

4.88

37   (90.27%)

Oboburu

1751 – 2000

1

2.43

38   (92.7%)

Ogbogu

2001 – 2500

2

4.88

40  (97.58%)

Erema ; Obrikom

Over 2500

1

2.43

41   (100.0%)

Omoku

Figure 2: Ali-Ogba Percentage Distribution of Population by Community groups (1963)

  Figure 3: Ali-Ogba Percentage Distribution of Population by Community groups (2002)

 

 Table 4: Ali-Ogba Population Growth by Community Groups (1963 – 2002)

Community Groups

  1963

1982

1992*

2002*

% change (’63- ’02)

Omoku (Urban)

20,323

32,401

48,751

73,352

260.93     

Egi

14,970

23,936

35,397

52,346

249.67

Igburu

 7,097

11,290

16,616

24,454

244.57

Usomini

10,989

17,081

14,633

37,499

241.24

Ali-Ogba (Total)*

53,056

84,708

115,397+

157,205

196.30

Sources: Nigeria Census, 1963; Ellah (1975) Ogbowu (1972)

               * Projected from 1963 population

+ Ogbakingdom.com indicates that “by 1991 census, Ogba kingdom population was 547,822  ( http:// ogbakingdom.com/ogbaland/html) 3-8-04

Obowu, V. O (1972) The Fundamental Customs and Laws of Ogba land                     

          Figure 4: Ali-Ogba Total & Percentage Population Growth (1963-2002)

lll.  The Economy of Ali-Ogba:

The physical landscape of Ali-Ogba presents a variety of natural resources: relatively well-drained land and rich soils in many areas, fresh water rivers, creeks and wetlands, secondary forests and abundant sunshine and rainfall all year round. Underneath the earth surface are pools of natural gas and oil.

As a result of these endowments, the natural environment  supports an agricultural economy based on fishing and farming for production of a wide variety of crops such as cassava, yam, maize, coco-yam, plantain and banana, including many vegetables such as okra, pepper and different types of melon. In addition, fruit trees such as paw-paw (papaya) oranges, guava, mango and pineapples are widely grown in gardens around buildings in the communities. Thus, in many respects, Ali-Ogba mirrors other upland communities of Rivers state in the production of a variety of agricultural products illustrated below.

                Distribution of agricultural production in Rivers State (in order of importance) 1970

Tree Crops               Food Crops               Livestock

Oil palm                        yam                              Chicken

Rubber                         cassava                         pigs

Coconut                        maize                            goats

Raffia palms                 rice                               sheep

Oranges                       coco-yam                                                                                               

                        okra, sweet potato, cowpeas

Land Use:

Based on a sample of about 72 sq. km. (East-West) transect the land use pattern depicted in the Omoku area in 1963 is illustrated in table 5 below. Analysis of the table shows that 25% of the area was fallow or under cultivation, and 11% of the area with oil palm trees is potential farmland. Also, the table shows that 60% of the land area was swampy or a mixture of swamp and forest, and 37% is suitable for farming. This is about 340 sq. km.. Using the1963 population, this yields about 183 persons per sq. km. density for potential farmlands 

Table 5 : Ali Ogba Land Use Pattern:

                       Land Use Type

Area (sq.km.)

Percent of total

Settlements

0.90

1.25

Under  cultivation

6.30

8.75

Recent fallow land

10.00

13.89

Old fallow land

2.20

3.05

Bush with oil palm trees

8.20

11.38

Mature disturbed forest with swamps

20.80

28.89

Swamp forests

18.00

25.00

Grass swamp and marshland

3.00

4.17

Lake

0.50

0.70

Rubber plantation

0.10

0.14

Sand spit

0.50

0.70

Others

1.50

2.08

 

72.00 sq. km.

100.00

             Source: Onyige, 1984

Table 6: Average Yields of basic crops (lb/acre) in Ogba and Egbema area compared with national figures.

Crops

     Ogba/Egbema District

Ogba/Egbema Average Yield  *

Nigeria (1960-1970) Av. Yield **

 

Ali-ulo

Ogbo oru

 

 

Maize (cobs)

420

350

385 lb/ac

680 lb/ac

Cow pea

126

128

127

194

Yam

   -

4589

4589

7402

Cassava

4878

4662

4770

6861

Coco yam

2480

  -

2480

4440

Sources * Onyige, P.U.(1979)  Field work

      ** Olayide (1967,28) figures given in kg. Converted into lb/ac by Onyige (1979)

    See also “Economic Survey of Nigeria, 1960-1975” Ibadan, Arowolaran Publishing   Co. Ltd. Ibadan

In recent years, Ali-Ogba has become a major producer of oranges, which are sold early in the orange season (about September) to buyers from states west of the Niger as well as some northern states in support of fruit drinks canning industries located in those areas. As a result, Ali-Ogba oranges are sold out by September every year long before they are ripe enough for the owners to realize premium prices from them.

Also, Ali-Ogba has contributed to the Nigerian economy through the development of plantations for rubber, in addition to oil palm, which grows naturally in the well-drained central lowlands. Although its agricultural production is essentially peasantry in form, it supports the country’s internal and external trade. Because of the importance of the oil palm tree as a commodity in Ogba and contribution to the Nigerian economy, it formed the basis for the establishment of United African Companies (UAC) trading base and factory in Kreigani (along the Orashi) in the 1940s and 1950s, and the Eastern Nigeria Development Corporation (ENDC) Pioneer Oil Mills in Erema and Kreigani in the fifties through the sixties.

Mineral Land Use:

        In recent decades, minerals (oil and gas) land use has been added into Ali-Ogba land use pattern. Prior to the 1990s, this land use, excluding associated road network and burrow pits, accounted for about 568 ha or 0.62  % of the total land area. Figures 2 (a) and (b)  depict minerals land use in Ali-Ogba including some communities in Egbema. A close look at figure shows that oil wells and related installations are sited in swamp lands or wetlands as well as on land suitable for farming. Aerial surveys show that up to the middle eighties, land covered by oil mining leases account for about 43% of the surface area of Ali-Ogba 13

         Figure 2 a: (Map of Ali-Ogba Oil Producing Communities – Obagi Field)        

Figure 2 b: (Map of Ali-Ogba Oil Producing Communities; Obrikom Fields

Ali-Ogba :Oil Output and Revenues

 The oil producing towns and villages in Ogba –Egbema Local Government Area of Rivers state are mostly rural communities. In these communities, are located the oil operations of Shell, Nigerian Agip and Elf Nigeria Obagi fields. Ali-  Ogba communities accounted for 101 out of the 416 wells in Rivers state representing about 24.3 % of Rivers state wells or 8.4% of the total number of wells in the country. It is estimated that between 1971 and 1989, Elf discovered and perhaps drilled 116 oil wells in the are (Akanimo, 2004)

In terms of volume of oil produced, between 1971 and 1975, Ali-Ogba communities contributed 41.3 million barrels of oil to the country’s total production in the Nigerian Agip Oil company (NAOC) Idu and Obiafu fields, and Elf’s Obagi field contributed 94.5 million barrels. In total Ogba communities contributed 135.7 million barrels out of a total production of of 183.9 million barrels and 108.8 million barrels for NAOC and Elf respectively. This represented 46.4% of the the two companies total oil production.

From 1976 to 1979, NAOC Ali - Ogba fields produced 90.2 million barrels out of the company’s total output of 310.4 million barrels, while Elf’s Ogba production was 77.1 million barrels out of a total of 113.6 million barrels. Thus out of a total of 424 million barrels produced by NAOC and Elf, Ogba accounted for 167.3 million barrels representing 39.46% of the total oil output. Thus between 1971 and 1979, for example, Ogba community accounted for 42.95 % of NAOC and Elf oil production in Nigeria.                                    

Between 1971 and 1975, Elf’s Obagi field  located within the area occupied by the following communities: Obagi. Ogbogu, Oboburu, Idu, Erema and Akabuka contributed 108.8 mb or 90% of Elf’s total oil output. By the end of 1979, it accounted for 171.6 mb or 77.2% of Elf’ total production. Based on these figures, the Obagi field’s annual average oil output was 19.1 mb. Currently, Obagi field’s oil production capacity is about 670 mmbls of oil and 811 bcf of gas (Mbendi Information for Africa, 2001)

             In monetary terms, between 1971 and 1979, the Nigerian government realized N418.5 million per annum from oil from the area and NAOC and Elf realized N332.7 million and N160.0 million respectively.  Out of the Government’s N418.5 million annual oil revenue, Ogba and Egbema communities contributed 18.0%, which is equivalent to N75.33 million. Based on the fact that Ogba alone accounted for 75% of the oil output of Ogba and Egbema communities, Ogba communities alone contributed N56.87 million per annum to the Federal oil revenues during this period.

There are many benefits as well as costs for communities in an oil producing region. The impacts of the oil industry which could have beneficial as well as adverse effects on various Ali-Ogba  communities in which oil industry operations and activities occur, include:

(i)     generation of employment opportunities

(ii)    generation of incomes or revenues through land rents, royalties and taxes to land owners and government, and profits to investors

(iii)  skills development

(iv) provision of social and physical infrastructure

(v)   ecological disruptions and environmental pollution

(vi) disruption of socio-cultural systems, and

(vii) land use changes 

In spite of the contributions of Ali-Ogba to the governments’ revenue base in recent years, there have been little or no significant community development projects undertaken in many of the communities in partnership with the government or oil companies in comparison with other Nigerian communities. For example, in the provision of electricity, water supply, roads, education, health facilities and employment, Ali-Ogba communities have not fared as well as other communities in the state. Until very few years ago, no village or town had electricity apart from Omoku although natural gas associated with the oil exploration beneath its soil is flared away every day. It was not until the mid eighties that Akabuka, Ogbogu, Obagi and Erema were supplied with electricity and water at a cost of N2.0 million by Elf. Towards the later part of the nineties, more communities were, however, linked with the National Electric Power Authority (NEPA) grid line running from Omoku to Ahoada. The NEPA power supply has been very erratic and it is hoped that the problem would be minimized by the recent commissioning of the gas turbine power system by Elf. It is hoped that all Ali-Ogba communities would be linked to the gas turbine powered electric  system

 Apart from the trunk B Ahoada-Okwuzi road constructed in the sixties, the only paved roads available in Ali-Ogba until a few years ago were those constructed to serve oil company operations such as  Ogbogu – Obagi – Oboburu – Idu roads, Ede –ama road, Obite – Egita road and  the link road to Erema and Obukegi from Ahoada / Omoku road.  The most recent paved road is the Omoku – Ikiri – Egbeda – Elele roadA constructed about a year ago by Niger Delta Development Commission (NDDC)  

Water supply is one of the basic necessities of life. For the improvement of health, welfare and productivity of people, supply of good drinking water is essential. However, many of the Ali-Ogba communities do not have good sources of water supply. Before the Nigerian civil war, only Omoku had a good supply of water among the 12 locations with water schemes in Rivers state. The Rural Development Division of the Ministry of Rural Development and Social Welfare tried to install physically operated rural water supply schemes to communities with a population of 2000. Ali-Ogba communities got 22 out of the 197 planned in the state. But, in the area of piped borne rural water supply, only Ohalimini and Erema were considered for service, which did not materialize. Till to day, many communities depend on one or two mono pumps for their communal water supply. A few who can afford it sink bore holes in their compounds to ensure regular water supply. Yet, the area enjoys more than 8o inches of rainfall per annum. This rainwater was clean in the past. But, to day, it is unsafe for collection and use for domestic purposes because of atmospheric pollution due to the oil industry.

Apart from the paucity of social services, government has not done much to facilitate local economic development through its agricultural projects. For example, the Rivers state government planned to establish four agro-service centers in the then Ahoada Local Government Area (ALGA) during the Third National Development Plan period (1975-80). One of these was planned for Ogba to be located in Obrikom based on a walking radius of 15 km and land area. But, it did not happen.

Summary and Conclusion:

Ali-Ogba has undergone significant changes politically, socially, economically and environmentally during the past decades. These changes have resulted from forces internal and external to the area. However, Ali-Ogba communities are yet to utilize its image as an oil producing area and her contribution to the political and economic progress of Nigeria to achieve a significant level of economic development. This, in my view, is because it has failed to function as a united ethnic community with shared interests and destiny to enhance its political, social, economic and environmental development interests. Instead, the communities have seen themselves as competitors for a piece of the oil companies’ pie. They have failed to exhibit a distinct economic and political identity, unity and consciousness in comparison to other contemporary Nigerian communities. The absence of unity and consciousness in the political and economic spheres of Nigeria is a major handicap in the progress of Ali-Ogba not only in Rivers state but also in Nigeria

It is not to the interest and welfare of Ali-Ogba communities to experience only the negative consequences associated with the exploration of her natural resources without reaping the benefits.. For Ali-Ogba to take its rightful place in Nigeria and Rivers state, it must be conscious of its economic and strategic importance in the country. Its citizens must be less selfish, and the communities must eschew self –seeking behavior and forge a political and economic unity that transcends individual community interests. It must refocus its attention on the collective interest of Ali-Ogba as a people united by common historical, cultural, political, economic and environmental experiences. It must realize that Ali-Ogba can only compete effectively within the context of the Nigerian society if it is able to speak with one voice and assert its weight politically as a  community,  not as separate settlements or communities begging for hand out from government and oil companies. It is only by so doing that it can move away from being continually marginalized  in contemporary Nigeria society.

                  UMUOGBAUSA, INC             

                                                             “TALKING POINTS’

                                                                        on

BUILDING CAPACITY FOR SUSTAINABLE DEVELOPMENT

                         IN ALI-OGBA: A SWOT ANALYSIS

                                                      By

                        Professor Chukudi Vine Izeogu, Ph.D. 

                                     UMUOGBAUSA, INC SECOND ANNAUL CONVENTION

                                                     WINGATE INN, HOUSTON, TX

                                                             MAY 28 – 30, 2004 

Ali-Ogba, located in the central Orashi-Sombreiro plains of Rivers State, Nigeria, is one of the major producers of the oil that fuels Nigeria’s economic development in recent decades. In his book, Ali-Ogba, Ellah posits that “according to current oil company records, no local government in Nigeria produces as much crude oil and gas as the Ogba/Egbema/Ndoni (ONELGA) local government”1 

As a result of the oil industry, Ali-Ogba has undergone significant political, social, economic and environmental changes during the past several decades. However, despite its image as one of the main contributors to the wealth of Nigeria, there is a lot of poverty in many communities.

 At the same time that Ali-Ogba makes very significant contributions to the country’s economy, this oil producing area has  remained economically marginalized and left in the backwaters of the country’s socio-economic and political development. This poses dilemmas for Ali-Ogba people. For example, while the oil industry in Ali-Ogba creates jobs and wealth, these benefits are not equally accessible to many Ogba people compared to other Nigerians. In short, Ali-Ogba communities  (oil producing and non oil producing) are faced with problems of unemployment, under-employment and low wage jobs. This state of affairs in the oil producing communities of Rivers state prompted the Governor, Dr. Odili to speak out this past February urging oil firms to stop giving employment to non-natives at the expense of the indigenes of the areas of their operation. In the Governor’s own words:

“It is difficult to explain to a petroleum engineer from Rivers State who has been out of  the university for five years and out of work, that sees his contemporaries during the youth service years, fly in from other parts of the country where there is no oil, coming to man the PHRC for him. It is equally difficult to explain to him that the industry that is behind his house, is being dominated by people who are less qualified than him (the Rivers man)”2 

In addition to environmental degradation and a rapidly depleting natural resource base that contribute to poverty, the area is witnessing social disorganization caused by competing value systems. A related dilemma is that although some oil producing communities have benefited from oil company jobs and contracts, many of these economic benefits have not been widely spread. As a result, these communities are lacking in many indicators of local economic development.

Currently, there is a renewed interest of Government in local economic development especially in the oil producing communities. However, little attention has been focused on how the capacity of Ali-Ogba can be enhanced to achieve meaningful sustainable development. An analysis of the strengths, weaknesses, opportunities and threats (SWOT) of the area provides a clear understanding of the area’s assets, the factors that militate against its development, and the strategies for building the capacity of the area to achieve meaningful and sustainable development.

This purpose of this presentation is to highlight the assets and contribution of Ali-Ogba to Nigeria’s economic development, its continued marginalization in comparison to other communities in the country, and the threats and challenges it faces that must be addressed if it is to benefit from the economic resources produced from its land and achieve sustainable development. The objectives are to draw attention to:

-  the common heritage and destiny as well as resource potentials of Ali-Ogba,

-  the role of Ali-Ogba in fuelling the Nigerian economy,

-  the failure of the State to adequately invest in the development of the area,

-  the forces robbing the communities of their capacity to strive for meaningful development, and to

-  challenge Ali-Ogba communities to demonstrate awareness of its assets and threats, a high level of political consciousness and a sense of community unity,  forge the necessary alliances and engage all stake-holders in the area so as to  benefit from the oil resources produced from its land and achieve sustainable development.

1.         Ali-Ogba Communities’Assets and Strengths:

      Common ancestral history, heritage and destiny (Ali-Ogba communities share common cultural and socio-political organization).

      Rich natural resource base (there is available land, forest and water resources supportive of agriculture and fishing, and there is also available oil and gas, a strategic and high technology economic resource with international demand.

      Social and Human resources (there is available a growing youthful and educated      population)

      A network of all season transportation network (roads) and rivers.

      A network of urban and periodic local markets that facilitate trade

        ______________________________

1  Ellah, F.J. (1995) Ali-Ogba: A History of Ogba People Enugu, Fourth Dimension Publishers, p4

 2. Daniel, Soni (2004) The Punch, Port Harcourt, Nigeria, Feb. 19, 2004 (Reporting on Dr. Odili’s comments             during the visit Dr. Sola Ayan-gbile, Managing Director of  PH Refining Company to his office

      Proximity to employment centers (oil industry, public sector and educational institutions)

    Increased number of educational institutions (primary, secon

dary and post secondary)

    Strategic importance to the country. (As Ellah has observed, based on current oil company records, no local government in Nigeria produces as much oil and gas as the Ogba/Egbema/ndoni (ONELGA) local government.

Ali-Ogba contributions to the Nigerian petroleum economy can be illustrated by the following facts.

            In 1985, Ali-Ogba communities accounted for 101 oil wells out of the 416 in Rivers state representing about 24.3% of Rivers state oil wells or 8.4% of Nigeria’s total oil wells

           Ali-Ogba,  accounted for about 46.4% (equivalent to 292.7 million barrels annually) of Nigeria’s oil output by AGIP and ELF

           From 1971 – 1979, Ali-Ogba  communities accounted for 42.95% of AGIP and ELF oil output

           In monetary terms, for the period 1971-1979, Government realized N418.5 million per year; AGIP realized N332.7 million, and Elf realized N160.0 million annually from Ali-Ogba. Out of Government’s N418.5 million, Ali-Ogba contributed 18.0% or 56.87 million to the  Federal Government

              From 1971-1975 AGIP’s Idu/Obiafu oil field produced 1.3 million per year out of the company’s total production of 183.9 million barrels, and ELF’s Obagi field produced 94.5 million out of the company’s total of 108.8. Both Idu and Obagi combined produced 135.8 million barrels or 46.4%

           From 1976 –1979, AGIP’s Idu field produced 90.2 million out of the company’s 310.4 million barrels, while Obagi produced 77.1 million barrels out of the company’s 113.6 million barrels. Both Idu and Obagi accounted for 167.3 million barrels or 39.48% of the company’s total production

           From 1971 – 1975, ELF’s Obagi fields compriing Akabuka, Obagi, Ogbogu, Oboburu, Idu and Erema contributed 108.8 mb or 90% of ELF’s total oil output. From 1971-1979, these communities contributed 171.6mb or 77.2% of ELF’s total output

           Average annual oil output to date: 19.1 mb or 0.05mb per day

           Obagi  production capacity = 670 mb of ol and 811 bcf of gas

           At the rate of 1.116 mmb/day for Nigeria, Obagi alone accounts for 55,800b/day or  20.4 to 21.9 mb/year

           Based on the above, from 1980 to 2001, Obagi alone accounted for (21.9 mb/year x 21 years) =459.9 mb

               At the rate of 95% of oil produced exported, Obagi’s oil export for the period 1980-2001 totaled 438.47 mb

           Nigeria exported 1.064 mmbl/d in 2001 which yielded a revenue of $10.92 billion. Ali-Ogba’s contribution to this amount is equivalent to $1.47 billion

               Ali-Ogba Weaknesses:

            There are certain conditions in a community that may deter public and private entrepreneurs from investing in a community. In Ali-Ogba, the conditions which pose barriers to development include:

        Intra and inter-community disunity

        Failed community organization, governance structure and leadership

        Lack of properly constituted community authority and effective leadership

        Communities’ competition for a piece of oil companies’ ”cake”

        Low level of investment in human development

          Absence of a distinct socio-political and economic identity in the state and nation

       Self interest of the elite group and individual communities

                    Opportunities that currently exists for Ali-Ogba:

o    Strong demand for economic base (oil and gas production)

o    Continued demand for the area’s agricultural products

o    Governmental support of area’s development

o    Increased public funds for local economic development because of relatively favorable revenue   allocation system in the country

o       Increased representation of Ali-Ogba people in State Government

                    Threats or barriers that affect sustainable development of Ali-Ogba:

o      Crime and disorder (youth/gang violence; insecurity of life and property in the communityzz0

o    Social disorganization – disruption of social controls leading to introduction of various forms of deviance including crime and the inability of the community to realize its value- caused by competing value systems

o    Environmental degradation and pollution – effects on health and quality of life

o    Depletion of natural resource base leading to loss of bio-diversity and land productivity

o    Oil company pay offs and support of unemployment especially among the youth, leading to various forms of criminal behavior, disrespect for dignity of labor; indolence and extravagance.

          The above situation raises an important question: what can the people of Ali-Ogba do to take advantage of the existing opportunities they have now towards sustainable development of their area in this early part of the 21st. century. The answer lies in the following:

o    Identifying community assets and strengths by taking stock of its physical, social and human resources which can be harnessed for development

o    Creating a distinct vision and image for Ali-ogba. Without a vision, Ali-Ogba communities will not achieve a meaningful level of development but will continue to stagnate or perhaps decline

o    Addressing the threats and weaknesses identified above that may negatively affect its community developmental efforts

o    Pursuing the strategy of collective response to the development problems of the area

                    Facing the challenges: some suggested strategies:

     Develop a vision for Ali-Ogba

    Organize a conference on Ali-Ogba: its future and development (common adversity brings people together)

    Take advantage of existing opportunities

     Direct the energy of the youth in a positive way and provide alternatives to gang activities

     Minimize threats and reduce existing weaknesses

     Eschew self-seeking behavior and forge a political and socio-economic unity that transcends individual community interests

     Organize community service organizations (youth associations, communities helping communities

     Involve age-grades, civic clubs, churches, youth associations in community development programs

     Initiate public improvements (repair of dilapidated town halls, street cleaning etc)

      Practice collective bargaining (refocus attention on the collective interests of Ali-Ogba communities as a people united by common historical, cultural, political, economic and environmental experiences; speak with one voice in matters affecting the well-being of Ali-Ogba)

Conclusion:

               UMUOGBAUSA, INC. should debate the issues highlighted above and consider initiating and organizing Ali-Ogba community wide conference of all the stakeholders in the area to define a vision of what they want Ali-Ogba to be and how to make it happen.

            Also, UMUOGBAUSA, Inc. can initiate research on the strengths and needs of the communities and generate reliable information for developing plans that merge social, economic and environmental goals and build local capacity.

 

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