Legal Nigeria

Obasanjo’s statement inflammatory, unfair to Niger Delta, say Akpomudje, Okrika

By Chido Okafor

[FILES] Former Nigeria president Olusegun Obasanjo

A Senior Advocate of Nigeria (SAN), Chief Albert Akpomudje, has described the comment by ex-president Olusegun Obasanjo that the resources in the Niger Delta oil belt belong to Nigeria, as inflammatory and injurious to the feelings of the people in the region, who bear the brunt of oil production.

He said: “It is a very inflammatory statement, considering the sentiments of the people of Niger Delta. But, if you go strictly by the constitution, that is what it is.

“Even the government itself realises that those on whose land the oil is should benefit more than others. We agree we are in a country and needs each other, but we also know that the people producing the wealth of the nation suffer degradation.

“That’s why people are advocating resource control as it was in the time of Obafemi Awolowo and the rest when we were depending on agriculture, through resource control.

“Those are not good statements. Some northerners are even arguing that because God puts the oil there, it doesn’t belong to anybody.”

The lawyer suggested that such a sensitive issue should be handled diplomatically, instead of hurting the feelings of those agitating to keep their oil and pay tax to the Federal Government.

Also, former Managing Director/Chief Executive Officer of Delta State Oil Producing Area Development Commission (DESOPADEC), Chief Wellington Okrika, described the statement by Obasanjo as laughable, adding the constitution acknowledges that the oil in the Niger Delta belongs to the people.

“If the oil money does not belong to the Niger Delta people why is there a provision in the constitution that the oil-producing communities are entitled to 13 per cent of the derivation fund?

“His statement is not well thought out because everybody knows that the oil belongs to the Niger people. It was Obasanjo as the president, who implemented 13 per cent derivation to governors to manage on behalf of oil-producing communities.

“The law says that oil-producing communities who are the owners of oil and gas are entitled a percentage of the derivation because the oil belongs to them. It doesn’t belong to everybody in Nigeria,” Okrika argued.