By IHECHUKWU SUNDAY
Afenifere leader, Chief Ayo Adebanjo has lampooned former President Olusegun Obasanjo over the latter’s comment that the oil resources in Niger Delta belong to Nigeria not the oil-producing communities, saying Obasanjo is wrong to hold such a view because, according to Chief Adebanjo, the oil resources under the lands of communities in the Niger Delta Region belong to those communities and, by extension, the Niger Delta, not to Nigeria.
Speaking earlier today (Wednesday, January 12, 2022), at a press conference held under the theme ‘Obasanjo’s Provocative Statement, Catalyst to Nigeria’s Breakup: Niger Delta Resources Don’t Belong to Nigeria,’ Adebanjo queried the basis on which Obasanjo said the resources in the Niger Delta belonged to Nigeria.
“When General Obasanjo asserts that the Niger Delta Resources is not owned by Niger Delta but Nigeria, is the General suggesting that God created the resources in Niger Delta when Nigeria came into existence in 1914, or it was there before the amalgamation?” the Afenifere leader quipped.
Former President Olusegun Obasanjo had at a leaders of thought summit last month (December 2021), contended that Niger Delta could not lay claim to ownership of the crude oil found in the region as the resource belonged to the whole country, not the region.
But Adebanjo said Obasanjo’s argument was untenable because under the federal constitution which Nigeria operated from 1954, natural resources in the regions belonged to the regions not to the federal government and, by extension, Nigeria, adding that left to him, the most important service Obasanjo could render to Nigeria at this point in time would be to convince Buhari to restructure Nigeria.
He said: “I will passionately appeal to General Obasanjo to join hands with the other patriots to bring pressure to bear on President Muhammad Buhari to ensure the change of the present fraudulent constitution by restructuring the present unitary constitution to the federal system agreed to by our founding fathers before the 2023 elections. This will enable the nation to move forward peacefully in unity and progress.”
The elder statesman noted that Nigeria went through various unitary Constitutions with their accompanying problems under colonial rule until a federal constitution was promulgated in 1954.
He added: “Our Colonial masters brought the various ethnic nationalities together through various constitutional reforms under a unitary form of government from 1914 to 1950 under Macpherson Constitution when Nigeria was divided into Three Regions namely Northern Region, Western Region and Eastern Region.
“The Macpherson Constitution collapsed following a motion by the late Chief Anthony Enahoro for self-government for Nigeria in 1956. Our founding fathers, Dr. Nnamdi Azikiwe, Sir Ahmadu Bello and Chief Obafemi Awolowo were invited to a constitutional conference in Lancaster House in London. It was at this conference that the defects in Macpherson Unitary Constitution were dissected and they settled for a Federal Constitution which became operative in 1954 with the establishment of the three autonomous regions headed by a Premier.
“The provision of this Federal Constitution with some amendments was incorporated in the 1960 and 1963 Independence Constitution, with the residual powers in the constitution reserved for the federating autonomous regions. Revenue allocation was agreed to be on derivation which you now refer to as resource control with the payment of 50 per center (section 140, 1963 Constitution) to the region where the revenue was derived. This was the peaceful co-existence position of the unity of the ethnic groups until 1966 when the military took over the government and abrogated the constitution agreed to by our founding fathers and set up the present 1999 constitution. The obnoxious provisions of this constitution have been the cause of instability in the country.”