The South-South region, popularly known as Niger Delta will take to the table those items for which we have always agitated at every Conference such as those held in 2005 and 2014. These issues include derivation or resource control. The Northerners, who do not have oil, are today the owners and managers of the Industry.
We will insist on the Local content Act. Today 85% of the senior appointments in the oil industry go to the North. This is very unacceptable.
We regard it as offensive and unconstitutional where for instance, out of 15 very senior appointments, 10 went to the North, three to the South-West, two to the South-South which producers over 80% and none to the South-East which also produces oil in Imo and Abia states.
The abolition of the Equalisation Fund Act whereby fuel is sold in Sokoto State at the price as it is sold in Bayelsa State, should be seriously looked into.
All Oil blocs and lifting of Oil are given to people from outside the South-South, thereby impoverishing the people of the Region to the extent that they depend on the Federal Government for development at all time, thereby making them stooges without voice because some people feel power belongs to them absolutely.
These other politicians control the political parties because the wealth is in their hands, wealth which they generated from the Niger Delta Region. When we speak out, it is regarded as confrontation by those who hold the power. The landscape of the Region is polluted, the ecosystem destroyed.
The 13% provided for in the 1999 Constitution as amended, has not been increased for 20 years now. Every attempt by South-South Delegates at various conferences particularly in 2005 was opposed by Northern delegates.
It is for this reason that we are demanding for the restructuring of the country by going back to the 1963 Constitution which provides for Derivation or Resource Control whereby 50% of revenue accrued in a Region is retained by the producing Region to manage itself, while the remaining 50% is shared between the Federal Government and the Regions including that which contributed it.
We went through this in the 2005 Conference and only 18% was approved. We rejected it and asked for 25%. The South-South Delegation under my Leadership staged a walk-out. Even 18% recommended was not implemented.
Same argument arose in the 2014 National Conference, and as usual, the Northern Delegates opposed any increase and so no recommendation was made. But the matter was referred back to the President.
The South-South will also ask for a State Police, and not this method of the military permanently occupying the zone in the pretext of protecting our vital natural assets, whereby the actual bunking is perpetuated by some of them in collaboration with unpatriotic local people.
They should consider it as a national duty and not consider it parochially on religious, sectional or ethnic ground.
What the 8th National Assembly did was very disgraceful particularly in the area of devolution of power.
The Committee should examine the Natural Conference Report of 2014 because it contains extracts from all previous conferences or constitutional review recommendations.
The Committee should not see the Report of 2014 as partisan but as a national document.
The El-Rufai Report is just an aspect of the 2014 National Conference Report.
The Committee should look into it also and see what the differences are therein, and include them in their report if they think it is necessary and important.
Creation of 18 more States was one of the recommendations made by the 2014 National Conference if we are to have a true Federation where everybody is equal. It was recommended that four new States should be created in the South East, and two more states should be created in the North West, three more states should be created each in the South-South, South West and North East Regions. The idea was to bring every geo-political region including the South East which has only five states now, to have nine states at the end. This recommendation was adopted after very serious debates.
I have always spoken about this. Sometimes ago, I made a statement that what time and whose money was being spent by the Chief of Army Staff in building an Army University in Biu, his own town? I asked was it budgeted for by the Federal Government or is it part of the money allocated to defence or is it part of the money with which they are fighting the war in the North East? Nobody has answered me.
That the Chief of Army Staff should have time to supervise the building of a University in his place particularly in Borno State which is the centre of the war, is amazing. It shows that they are not very serious with what is going on.
I also made a statement that the Chief of Army Staff said there were bad eggs among his fighting soldiers and it was because of these disloyal soldiers that they have not made many advances. I was shocked when those fighting at the war front replied him that the leaders of the army are in Lagos, Kaduna looking for money and that they in the war front have no arms and ammunition to fight the rebels and that if there is anybody that is not making them to advance forward that it was the senior officers in Lagos, Abuja and Port Harcourt.
I have never seen where junior soldiers will comment on their senior officer’s statement. It shows there is something wrong. Their discipline is affected and also there have been differences between the Chief of Army Staff and the Chief of Air staff, we don’t know what brought about those differences.
The army is on the ground, the air force is in the air complementing each other, but if both of them don’t agree, then there is something wrong. We are worried particularly when I learnt that the army was even asking to buy planes or helicopters. I have not heard of other military forces in other parts of the world where one arm of the security force is against the other one, they are not cooperating. These are the issues that have affected the advancement of the war in the North.
Our laws particularly the one setting up the army made certain regulations that every public officer, the military, retires when he is 60 years old or when he has put in a number of years in the service. These military men, officers or service Chiefs have been in power since 2015 when this government came into being, one would have expected by now having regard to the fact that the President of this country, the commander in chief is a retired general, with him and his fighting forces, this Boko Haram war should have been accomplished, but unfortunately things are getting worse.
It was stated some days ago by the government that the government will not retire the Service Chiefs, what can we do? If the same Service Chiefs are Nigerians and I know they are, they must put the interest of this county first.
If the President has his own reason for not wanting them to go, if you have been given a job to do for five years and you have not been able to accomplish it, you must be honourable enough to say enough is enough, please appoint other people to carry on.
We have received so many clamour particularly when it comes from the National Assembly both the Senate and the House of Representatives. If they have made moves, what are they waiting for? Mr President does not own this country, this country belongs to all of us and if a whole arm of government, the National Assembly said they should go, it means they have passed a vote of no confidence and they should have the courage in the interest of this country to step down.
There is this Bill by former Governor of Yobe State, Ibrahim Gaidam that was read the first time on the floor of the Senate. The Bill is seeking to grant Amnesty to Ex- Boko Haram like the one granted to the Ex- Niger Delta Militants. What is your take on this sir?
The former governor of Yobe State is talking rubbish by comparing what happened in the Niger Delta of which I was in the forefront and what is now happening in the North-East.
In the first place, the militants in the Niger Delta did not kidnap ordinary Nigerians; they were kidnapping foreigners in order to draw the attention of the Federal Government and the world to the suffering they were undergoing in their own area by the neglect of the Federal Government.
In 2009 under President Yar’Adua, the military attacked Okerenkoko, Gbaramatu, they were in the air and on the ground and in the water — the Navy, the Air force and the army combined to attack Gbaramatu as if there was a war.
I cried to Mr President and I even sent the then governor of Bayelsa State, Timipre Sylva, to Yar’Adua to stop the war and at the end they withdrew after killing so many innocent people.
There were conditions for the Amnesty. The militants submitted their arms and ammunition which could fill a whole compound. A deadline was made and in fact, Tompolo again was the last to surrender his guns on the 4th of October 2009. So the case is not the same.
So I am not opposed to granting amnesty to the people, but the conditions must be made that these people who have been killing people; over 20,000 have been killed by them, these people now have links to other foreign terrorist organisations from the Middle East, if you want to give them amnesty, nobody stops you from getting them amnesty, you have the power, you have everything, some of us are second class citizens in our country, when we make statements, they say we are agitators.
As far as I am concerned in the interest of this country, such bill should be examined very carefully but don’t compare a different case, a harmless case with a case that well over 20,000 people have died and are still dying and property destroyed and the whole world is aware of it. What happened in the Niger Delta was a small thing talking about oil for which benefits they have been denied.
Today the militants are still angry because the oil industry today has been taken over by the Northerners. They are the people exporting the oil, they are the people selling the oil, they are the people using it to develop other areas of Nigeria.
As I mentioned the other day, these Abacha loots which we are recovery from the United States of America was money derived from our area, from the oil industry, put into the central bank and now they are bringing back those monies, you are now talking of building express roads from Lagos to Ibadan, from Abuja to Kano and the Second Niger Bridge, whereas the East-West road which is the most important economic road in Nigeria because all the oil companies use that road was not mentioned.
So we know where we belong to, but we will not keep quiet, if we are to be one Nigeria for people to look down upon others, it is an insult for anybody to refer to what is happening in the North East to what happened in the Niger Delta where the militants were crying about negligence, pollution of their area and so on and so forth.
That is not new, we have heard about this before; the first time when the EFCC acting chairman was recommended by Mr President to the Senate for confirmation and from the same Presidency, a letter was written to the Senate that the man was not qualified, was incompetent, was corrupt, and so he was rejected, he was not confirmed.
So one thought that once the name is sent there again the second time, one would have expected that the Presidency have taken a decision nobody will dare it, but the same thing happened again and the man was not confirmed. So that was the beginning, the time we felt these things were happening.
When the first lady made a statement that where are the Nigerian men, that a few people who were not elected by the Nigerian people have taken over the Presidency and she mentioned Mamman Daura and others and then recently she said that Garba Shehu was disloyal to the Presidency particularly to the family and that he should go, nothing came out of that.
Again we saw how the Head of Service lost her job; during the time the pension man who ran away to Dubai because of his crime came back to work in the public service and investigation was being carried out, the Head of Civil Service made a statement against the powerful in the Presidency. After that, a woman who has been doing her job all the time, is it after that time that they knew she was corrupt? So these are questions many people are asking in this country.
Now the recent one between the NSA and the Chief of Staff is very surprising, even though we have been seeing the signs and people have been talking about the signs, it is very embarrassing in the sense that the NSA is the head of the Security forces in Nigeria, a very senior position while the Chief of Staff duty is to manage the domestic affairs of Mr President, he is in charge of personnel and so on.
In this second term, the President said that everybody, government official should pass through the Chief of Staff, whether the NSA was included in that announcement one doesn’t know.
But what I saw in the previous government of President Jonathan, similar thing happened; when Gen. Gusau was appointed Minister of Defence and Col. Dasuki as NSA some of us were worried that these two people who are in-laws, we were told that Gasau did not attend cabinet meetings because of his feelings that he was being kept out of the government and he said and I quote that the NSA Col. Dasuki directed the Service Chiefs not to report to him as the Minister of Defence to him.
Col. Dasuki was the one in charge of security, he was the one even arranging for the buying of arms and ammunition abroad, he was responsible for most of the payment of security money and from what was said recently he was in charge of all the funds for the Presidency and the Security Forces. There was a divided house and that was what must have affected the advancement in the war front.
So this is happening and by this time the Presidency should have spoken either to When I listened to the news about the Bill, I was amazed. The former governor of Yobe state who could not fight Boko Haram, who in his presence his students were killed in their dormitories and he could not do anything.
Himself, the governor of Adamawa and the governor of Borno they were against me when in 2014, I said that the declaration of emergency in the North East would not be complete unless the three governors were asked to step down for 6months and appoint a senior former Military General to supervise each state and they insulted me and Mr President believed in his Attorney General.
I wrote a public statement which was published in the papers that this state of emergency declared in these areas will not work. I referred them to the state of emergency declared in Plateau state and in Ekiti state too, but they didn’t listen to me.dispel the rumour of the letter written by the NSA or admit it; something has to be done either you are disciplining one or you are asking them to keep their mouths shut. So from this angle, one begins to worry what is happening to this our government.
What is happening in Edo state in APC even though I am not a member, Edo State is part of the South-South and most people regard me as their leader; what is going on in Edo state which is between Adams Oshiomhole and Obaseki is very unfortunate.
People have told me that these two men were very good friends, Obaseki was a businessman, Oshiomhole was a trade unionist and Obaseki helped Oshiomhole in winning the seat of governorship in Edo state. Thereafter the same Oshiomhole sent for Obaseki and he became his adviser in all the businesses particularly economics.
So Oshiomhole in other to show the same goodwill and to compensate Obaseki for what he did for him also stood firm. There were very many qualified people who wanted to be the governor particularly the then deputy governor, former Minister and others who contested, they all failed and Obaseki who was Oshiomhole’s candidate won.
I don’t know the internal working of these two men, but they have gone too far and I begin to worry why APC has not been able to call both of them to order. They may win or they may lose the election if they do not settle their problem.
I am speaking on behalf of the people of Edo state and the Niger Delta that we need peace; we don’t have to kill ourselves. People in other parts of the country conduct elections free and fair, no trouble, no killing of people and so forth but while in the South-South, in the Niger Delta, we see election as if it is a battle ground and it is the people in the area that suffer, that is my concern.
I call upon President Buhari to see that they are settled otherwise the differences, the disagreement will cause so many trouble in the place.Read Full Story