Undoubtably, twenty years (i'e two decades) presents to any organisation, no less ours, a veritable opportunity.to reflect on its 3ourney so far in relation to the circumstances of its formation ab initioithe dominant factors that conspired within the time frame in determining its present state and status against the backdrop of its set objectives. It surely strengthens its resoive to consoiidate on the gains made while drawing from the experiences over such long period'

It is in realisation of this opportunity that the National Executive Committee (NEC) of the CDHR at its meeting in May zoog elected to document in this book the various dimensions and ramifications to the challenges of nation building from the stand poirrt of u human rights advocacy group like ours' The philosophy ilehind this and thJ choice of contributors were carefully aimed at locating the key constitutive tenor of these challenges with a view to sti"mulating a frank discourse around the core issues that are thrown up and presently constitute obstacles in our collective efforts to ittain socioleconomic justice and political emancipation.

This book brings together the proceedings of the conference on the crises in the oil Producing communities in Nigeria organised by the committee for the Defence of Human Righti (CDHR in collaboration with The Ford Foundation. The conference, held at Gateway Hotels, otta, ogun State between september20 and23, 1999, took place against the background of intense conflicts and agitations in the oil-bearing regions in the country. The fact that the minority groups occupy the rich oil producing areas and have been subjected to untold pain and suffering has also increased tensions, distrust, conflicts, and violence. Furthermore, those who produce what has become the nation's sole foreign exchange earner are clearly marginalized from power and are voiceless if not invisible in the de-termination of those critical issues that shape policies and politics in the Niger Delta. while the state and transnational oil companies have employed a strategy of domestication and incorporation to silence and eliminate opposition since the late 1950s, the situation is changing as the tide is beginning to rise in favour of the oppressed communities.

Youths and the generality of the citizenry of the area as well had risen up in protest against continued oppression and exploitation alienation, environmental despoliation, political marginalisation and economic deprivation. Precisely, cDHR had contemplated on the crises with great awe, pondered seriously on the people's demands and grievances and deliberated at length on the responses of the government of the Federal Republicof Nigeria. ltdecided, eventually, on the need for a thorough analysis of the multi-various dimensions of the problem with the goal being to propose an alternative perspective of the resolution for the crises.

The entire West Africa is a region plagued by inept and corrupt leadership, especially military lords who have been exploiting the power of the gun to sustain themselves in power and impose their own will on the people. The strategies are the same: a coup is staged to get rid of a legitimate civilian authority, the constitution is suspended and replaced with military decrees and draconian legislation, a self-succession programme is instituted, some people are hand-picked to craft a document that will end up as the'constitution', the electoral process is militarized and the ruling junta emerges as the head of the new civilian government.

In Nigeria, the so-called'Giant of Africa', all the structures built by General Ibrahim Badarnosi Babangida were tailored towards the actualization of his transmutation plot which eventually backfired in 1993, after the dictator had spent eight years in office. His successor,late General Sani Abacha also began his own process, appointed his cronies to craft a constitution and his selfsuccession plot was in its top gear when the bespectacled General met his doom. Nevertheless, the document he left behind was later imposed on the nation by his successor, General Abdusalami Abubakar on the eve of his departure, and this has formed the basis upon which the present day Nigeria is being administered.

Most contentious of the issues predating the present civilian arrangement was the issue revolving the nation's article of faith or its constitution.

Since Nigeria's independence, organs -empanelled by successive governments have crafted a number of constitutions. Each constitution has, to a large extent, been a product of political engineering embarked upon to protect the elite and further alienate the people'

Being so exclusive, they have failed to reflect the peculiar realities of the Nigerian society. worse still, they have also not drawn typical lesson or experiences from other countries.

 By virtue of the above reality,eachconstitution,the 1999 inclusive, have tended to be utterly legalistic, contextually Complex and predominantly ambiguous on a number of issues. Rather than act as a fillip for democratic consoiidation, the 1999 Constitution has turned out to become a corrientious document, which threatens the fragiie cohesion that exists among the various constituents.

consequent upon the ignominious death of the bespectacled despot,General Sani Abacha, on June 8, r99g, the military had no opfion than to withdraw from governance following consistent opposition by civil society groups. But the process thai ushered in General olusegun obasanjo'i civilian regime was anilitarized one, marked by the restriction oi political participation, absence of a workingprocess{ed constitution andthe unabatingviolation of the rights of citizens. Although, the cDHR, in coilaboration with other civil society groups opposJd the fraudulent transition programme, the politicians saw it is an opportunity to have their own portion of the national cake.

About two years into the civilian experiment, those then opposed to the dubious process have been vindicated.

The fact is apparent; nothing has changed. Nigeria, under the administration is plagued by unceasing, unending, excruciating and heart-rending fuel scarcity, food shortages, geometric increase in rate of inflation and other ills. The conditions of citizens appear precarious and the future appears bleak based on the fact thii the crop of leadership that the nation has, are minispiecing, mindless and more vicious in their thieving and looting habits.

(Quarterly Newsletter): Published since December 1989

(Monthly Pro-democracy Leaflet): Issued since June 1996

A report on inter students clash of May 27, 1991 at Obafemi Awolowo University, Ile-Ife (A joint publication with the Civil Liberties Organisation [CLO] )

A Joint Publication with the National Association of Democratic Lawyers NADL October 1991

A CDHR Publication on Occupational Health and Safety of Nigerian Workers December, 1998