The northern socio-political organisation, Arewa Consultative Forum, has disagreed with the Pan-Niger Delta Forum, the Ijaw National Congress over the ownership of crude oil in the Niger Delta.
The ACF spokesman, Emmanuel Yawe, supported the position of former President Olusegun Obasanjo that the crude oil in the Niger Delta belonged to the Federal Government not people in the region.
But PANDEF faulted the former president and supported an elder statesman, Chief Edwin Clark, who lambasted Obasanjo over his position on the oil in the Niger Delta.
Recall, Obasanjo had at a peace and security parley convened by the Global Peace Foundation and Vision Africa a few weeks ago attacked the National Secretary of the INC, Ebipamowei Wodu, over the latter’s outburst.
Wodu at the forum said the Ijaw were being treated like second class citizens in Nigeria despite producing the oil and gas resources that had sustained the country.
Clark in an open letter to the former President on December 22 took a swipe at Obasanjo, alleging that his hatred against the people of the oil-producing states in Nigeria was disappointing.
But in an open letter to Clark released on Monday, the former president faulted the elder statesman’s claim that he hated the people of Niger Delta due to resource control agitation.
PANDEF advised Obasanjo to stop being mischievous and insensitive to issues concerning the Niger Delta.
It said it was worrisome that Obasanjo, who knows the difficult Niger Delta terrain and the effects of oil exploration on the environment there, would be playing the devil’s advocate.
The National Publicity Secretary of PANDEF, Ken Robinson, who said this during a telephone interview with one of our correspondents, stated, “PANDEF is saying that former Olusegun Obasanjo should stop being mischievous. The former president understands what we are talking about when we are talking about oil in the Niger Delta. He was here during the Civil War as a commandant and all that.
“So he understands what we are talking about. Unfortunately, he continues to play the role of the devil’s advocate. So, former President Obasanjo should stop being mischievous because that is what he is doing.
“He was talking about people being tribesmen and all that and asking people to be statesmen. He himself needs to be a statesman, because he is not.
“He knows what we are talking about the environmental degradation in the Niger Delta, the harsh living conditions due to oil exploration and of course the difficult terrain in the region.
“God has in His wisdom and all-knowing status bless this region with these resources to ameliorate the suffering of the people and the Nigerian state has over the years continue to exploit and plunder these resources to the complete disregard of the people.
“What we are asking for is better attention to the oil and gas bearing communities. That is what the people of the Niger Delta are asking for.
“Some of the problems we have in Nigeria today started during his presidency. So, we will advise and urge former President Obasanjo to stop being mischievous about issues of the Niger Delta and respect the feelings of the Niger Delta people.
“It is sad that he will be talking about constitution and provisions in the flawed military imposed constitution because he is the chief beneficiary of that lopsided constitution, so he could afford to say that.
“If Ogun State is producing oil, will Obasanjo make the kind of insensitive comments he is making?”
However, the ACF threw its weight behind Obasanjo, saying oil and other mineral resources belonged to Nigeria and not host communities.
The National Publicity Secretary of the ACF, Emmanuel Yawe in a chat with one of our correspondents in Kaduna on Wednesday, said the matter was a purely constitutional one and that the northern body was in full support of the provision of the constitution.
According to him, oil and other mineral resources found in any community belong to Nigeria, adding those against such should seek constitution amendment to the provision.
The ACF’s spokesman said, “Former President Olusegun Obasanjo’s argument is based on the provisions of the 1999 Constitution as amended.
“Many communities that have these minerals are against this provision. As long as this aspect of the constitution remains the way it is, there is nothing that can be done. That is the law.
“The ACF believes in the rule of law. Those against this provision should seek a way of amending this aspect of the constitution.”
Afenifere seeks constitution review, says Nigeria not practising federalism
The Yoruba socio-political organisation, Afenifere, called for the review of the constitution to allow communities where mineral resources were found to be their first beneficiaries.
The Publicity Secretary of the Afenifere, Mr Jare Ajayi, who said this in an interview with one of our correspondents on Wednesday, said the group did not need to support or go against Obasanjo’s position on the matter if what the former President said is in the constitution.
He said, “ If you find mineral resources anywhere in the country, you must obtain licence from the Federal Government before you exploit them and that is why we ( Afenifere) are saying that that part of the constitution among others must be reviewed to reflect the true position of what Nigeria is, Federal Republic of Nigeria.”
“Nigeria must be federal true to its spirit. If it is federal, resources found in any location will. benefit the people there first and Nigeria at large.
We cannot continue to pretend to be practising federal system of government. “