In order to get balanced and unbiased reports on the current situation in the region and put an end to it, the Dutch Parliament will on January 26, 2011 hold a public hearing on Niger Delta crisis with participation of all stakeholders.
A member of the Dutch Parliament, Sharon Gesthuizen, who arrived Nigeria on Sunday through the Murtala Mohammed International Airport (MMIA), Lagos, said that the visit would enable her get first hand information on the conditions in the region.
Gesthuizen who also doubles as the spokesperson of House Committee on Economic Affairs further told journalists at the airport that her visit would afford her the opportunity of meeting with oil companies operating in the region, most especially Shell Nigeria Plc, adding that the Dutch media was daily overwhelmed with reports from the Niger Delta areas.
According to her, governments in oil producing states such as Rivers, Delta, Bayelsa, Rivers, Edo, Cross River and Abia would be involved in the public hearing, adding that Non-governmental Organisations (NGOs), Amnesty International, Dutch embassy in Nigeria, individuals, groups and other independent bodies were expected to present reports.
Before now, she said that the House had received various conflicting reports from different quarters on the situation in the Niger Delta and stated that for the House to be objective in its deliberation, she decided to visit the affected states for on the spot information.
Gesthuizen emphasized that the public hearing, the first process in bringing solution to the crises in the area would not apportion blame, but to rather give platform to every stakeholder in the region to present their positions.
She, however, stated that for peace to return to the region, all stakeholders including the multinational companies will have to work harmoniously with one another, stressing that for any company to work
comfortably in any country four ILO rules must be strictly adhered to.
She said: “In the last four years that I have been a member of the House of Parliament, I’ve been getting a lot of information from several NGOs such as Amnesty International, International Labour Organization ILO and others and their signals are very alarming especially on the situation in the Niger Delta. And a report was published about one and half years ago on the researches they conducted in the Niger Delta areas, which quite showed the situation in the area.
“I feel that what happens in the Netherlands is that we have rules telling the companies that wherever they operate and whatever country they are, they should always observe the four important ILO norms; not involving in slavery, child labour, making sure that there is no discrimination and workers belong to unions. These are ILO rules.
The President of Hope for Niger Delta Campaign in Netherlands, Comrade Sunny Ofehe who was on the trip with her, said that the public hearing was important as Niger Delta had received lots of attention from the media and Dutch government.
Ofehe said that it was not the responsibility of the multinational companies operating in the region to ameliorate poverty, but they could as parts of corporate responsibilities embark on projects, which would improve the living standards of their host communities.
To contact the writer of this report Ayoola Ponmile (email - [email protected])