Despite the vast resources located in their territories, indigenous people had been described as the poorest in the world.
Executive Director, African Indigenous Foundation for Energy and Sustainable Development (AIFES), Legborsi Saro Pyagbara noted this while reviewing the struggles of indigenous peoples for self determination at a one day dialogue forum organized to mark this year’s International Indigenous People’s Day in Port Harcourt.
According to him, indigenous peoples’ resources had made them the center of every crises leading to attempts to extract their resources without giving them their due benefits. This he said, has been the cause of the suffering and poverty that had enveloped indigenous people all over the world.
The AIFES boss said the United Nations had once disclosed that indigenous peoples make up only 5% of the World population, but ironically account for 15% of the poorest despite their estimated 7000 languages and 5000 different cultures.
He emphasized that the rights of indigenous peoples have continued to be violated, stressing that for Ogoni people it had become worst, as according to him they had for years suffered pollution arising from oil exploitation without having anything to show for it.
However, inspite of this situation, Pyagbara is happy over the awareness that had been created over the indigenous peoples’ plight starting from 1919 when the General Leader of Indigenous Peoples from Canada appeared at the League of Nations to present the problems of indigenous people and was chased out of the League of Nations Building in Geneva.
The General Leader, he went on, had to resort to addressing the Swiss Press, and by so doing, brought the plight of indigenous people to the front burner of international politics.
“From that time there had been series of conferences and conventions, resulting in the creation of international bodies, including the UN Working Group on Indigenous Population to address issues of indigenous peoples.”
The Working Group, he disclosed met in 1984 and agreed to draft the UN Declaration on Rights of Indigenous Peoples.
Ten years after the Working Group was created in 1982, the Late Ken Saro Wiwa took the Ogoni problem to the group in 1992, he further disclosed.
This year’s International Indigenous Peoples’ Day focuses on” Indigenous Youths as Agents of Change for Self-Determination.”