• Tuesday, June 18, 2024
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PANDEF tackles Obasanjo over ‘inflammatory’ comments on Niger Delta

Niger Delta, PANDEF and the Tinubu presidency

The Pan Niger Delta Forum (PANDEF) has condemned former President Olusegun Obasanjo over his comment that Niger Delta oil belongs to Nigeria, saying the former president is only being mischievous.

Obasanjo had in response to an open letter written by an elder statesman from the Niger Delta region, Chief Edwin Clark, said on Tuesday that contrary to claims that oil in Niger Delta is owned by people in the region, the oil belongs to the entire nation.

According to The Guardian, in its reaction, Wednesday, the National Publicity Secretary of PANDEF, Ken Robinson, in Port Harcourt, said it was wrong for the former president who should be a statesman to take a provocative position.

Robinson stressed that God has placed within the lands of Niger Delta these resources to ameliorate the sufferings of the people to make life easier for them, noting that unfortunately, Nigeria has exploited and plundered these resources with little or no attention to the Niger Delta people.

According to him, ”Former President 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.

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“If Ogun State was 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, while the gold in Zamfara and Osun belongs to the respective states?

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

“When cocoa and groundnut were the mainstay of the nation’s economy, where they talking about 13 per cent, was it not 50 per cent? Why the unfair treatment given to the Niger Delta people?

Speaking further, “The country is aware of how he behaved like a dictator as president and some of the issues we are facing today, he started them. We recall how Odi community was invaded on his orders and he claims to be a statesman. He does not have the standing.”

Speaking in similar vein, some stakeholders in the region also expressed their disagreement with Obasanjo’s position, acknowledging that although the Constitution stipulates some degree of control of the deposit in the ground by the Federal Government, the people have an exclusive ownership right of the land.

Chairman, Rivers State Coalition of Civil Society Organisations (CSOs), Enefa Georgewill, during a telephone interview with The Guardian, disclosed that such utterance could stem up agitation for resource control.

Georgewill noted, “The former president’s letter is quite pathetic and a high level of insensitivity to the people of the region who are facing environmental degradation and have been suffering livelihood crisis because of oil exploration. It is pathetic that the former president would say such because it is more like mocking the Niger Delta people”.