Ownership of N’Delta crude oil: Obasanjo mischievous — PANDEF

PORT HARCOURT — The Pan Niger Delta Forum, PANDEF, has condemned Former President Olusegun Obasanjo over his comment that Niger Delta oil belongs to Nigeria, noting that the former president was only being mischievous.

Obasanjo, had while reacting to a letter by South South leader and elder statesman, Edwin Clark, who had challenged the former president to explain why gold found in Zamfara State, a natural resource was controlled by the state government, while oil in the Niger Delta region is controlled by the Federal Government, reiterated that the crude oil cannot be controlled by the region but the Federal Government.

Reacting to Obasanjo’s insistence, National Publicity Secretary of PANDEF, Ken Robinson, in Port Harcourt, Rivers State, said: “Former President Obasanjo understands what we are saying when we say that oil in the Niger Delta belongs to the people of the region, he knows what we are saying.

“He understands the hardship and sufferings that we face in the Niger Delta region. God in his infinite mercy and all knowing status has placed within the lands of Niger Delta these resources to ameliorate the sufferings of the people as perhaps to bless and make life easier for them.

“But unfortunately, Nigeria has exploited and plundered these resources with little or no attention to the Niger Delta people.

“Obasanjo should stop being mischievous. What he is doing is just playing to the gallery. He could talk about the constitution and what it provides because he is a chief beneficiary of this flawed, lopsided, faulty military imposed constitution. He could talk about the constitution because is one of the chief beneficiaries.

“If Ogun State were producing oil, will Obasanjo make the comment he is making? Is it not provocative that Obasanjo will say that oil in Niger Delta belongs to the whole of Nigeria, when Gold in Zamfara and Osun belongs to Zamfara and Ogun states, respectively.

“He could talk about 13 percent and all of that because his state is not oil producing. If Ogun was an oil producing state, would he be happy that 13 percent is all the people get from all that they give to Nigeria?

“When cocoa and groundnut were the main stay of the nation’s economy, were they talking about 13 percent was it not 50 percent? Why the unfair treatment given to the Niger Delta people? Why the neglect?

“Obasanjo should stop being mischievous. He does not have the moral standing to talk, during his time as the president, he was intimidating and harassing democratically elected governors.

“The country is aware of how he behaved as a president. He was a dictator and some of the issues we are facing today he started them. We recall how Odi community was invaded on the orders of former President Obasanjo. He is not a statesman. He does not have the moral standing.”

Obasanjo’s claim is unjust —Ex-IYC president

Eric Omare, immediate past President, Ijaw Youth Council, IYC, worldwide, said: “The crude oil customarily belongs to the indigenous Niger Delta people. This ownership rights of indigenous people over all types of resources found in their lands is of great antiquity long before the advent of colonialism.

“However, unfortunately for the Niger Delta people in Nigeria, there are expropriator laws made by the government since the colonial era starting from the Mineral Act of 1914, which vests mineral resources, including crude oil on the crown and now the Federal Government through laws like the 1999 Constitution, Petroleum Act, Mineral Act, etc.

“However, the problem with these laws is that they were made without the input of the people of Niger Delta who customarily own those resources. Hence, the people have rejected them and claim ownership to the resources in our land.

“There is no community known as Nigeria that owns oil resources. The oil resources are found in different communities and those communities are the original owners of those resources. The Nigeria’s ownership claim by Obasanjo is predicated on the unjust federal laws in Nigeria that deprive the people of the resources and antithesis to the concept of federalism.”

We’ll declare persona non grata on persons inimical to N’Delta region — SSRG

Mr. Joseph Ambakederimo, Convener, South-South Reawakening Group, SSRG, said: “I am not surprised to hear that from Obasanjo. If he had said otherwise, then that would have been a surprise to me. This has been his view a long time ago and coming to reaffirm it only brings to consciousness the level of hate people like Obasanjo are prepared to rub on our faces and challenge us from the region to do our worst. People like him, so long as the oil continues to flow, the rest of us from the region should go and die.

“Obasanjo should tell us who bears the brunt of oil exploration, is it the entire Nigerian state or the oil bearing communities of the Niger Delta.

“It is unfortunate that a man who has held the highest office of the President would be the one to become so petty to engage in issues that tend to divide us.

“We will fold our hands and continue to watch this sordid drama that he has started unfold because l believe we haven’t heard the last of this matter. However, henceforth, we will not hesitate to issue a persona non grata on persons whose actions or words are inimical to the Niger Delta region cause, including our sons and daughters from the region who associate with such persons.”

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