The Arewa Consultative Forum, a northern socio-political organization, has clashed with the Pan-Niger Delta Forum, the Ijaw National Congress, and several civil rights organizations over the ownership of crude oil in the Niger Delta.
In an interview with The PUNCH on Wednesday, ACF spokesperson Emmanuel Yawe backed former President Olusegun Obasanjo’s assertion that crude oil in the Niger Delta belongs to the Federal Government, not the people of the region.
Obasanjo had lambasted the INC’s National Secretary, Ebipamowei Wodu, after the latter’s outburst during a peace and security meeting held by the Global Peace Foundation and Vision Africa a few weeks ago.
Wodu noted during the meeting that despite producing the country’s oil and gas resources, the Ijaw were considered as second-class citizens in Nigeria.
In an open letter to Obasanjo dated December 22, Clark took a shot at the former President, stating that his hate for the people of Nigeria’s oil-producing states was disappointing.
However, in an open letter to Clark, the former president refuted the older statesman’s accusation that he despised the people of the Niger Delta because of resource control agitation.
Those who reacted to Obasanjo’s and Clark’s verbal sparring on Wednesday held opposing viewpoints.
Obasanjo was warned by PANDEF to quit being mischievous and insensitive to Niger Delta issues.
It said it was concerning that Obasanjo, who is familiar with the tough terrain of the Niger Delta and the environmental impacts of oil exploration there, would be playing devil’s advocate.
The National Publicity Secretary of PANDEF, Ken Robinson, 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 backed Obasanjo, claiming that oil and other mineral riches belonged to Nigeria, not the host communities.
Emmanuel Yawe, the ACF’s National Publicity Secretary, claimed the topic was completely constitutional and that the northern organisation was fully supportive of the constitution’s provision.
He claims that oil and other mineral resources found in any community belong to Nigeria and that those opposed to the clause should seek a constitutional amendment.
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.”