Chairman of the Board of Trustees, Ijaw National Congress (INC), Chief Edwin Clark, has warned former President Olusegun Obasanjo to refrain from unwarranted attacks against people of oil-producing states of the country.
Clark stated this in an open letter titled, ‘My disappointment over your unprovoked outburst against the people of the Niger Delta region’.
The elder statesman was reacting to a recent outburst by the former President in Abuja, where he attacked the National Secretary of the INC, Ebipamowei Wodu, at a peace and security parley convened by the Global Peace Foundation and Vision Africa.
A video of the parley emerged showing Obasanjo berating Wodu over his assertion that the Ijaw were being treated like second class citizens in Nigeria despite producing the oil and gas resources that had sustained the country.
Clark said, “With all due respect, Your Excellency, your outburst towards your fellow participant in a summit to which everyone present was invited, is, to say the least, disappointing, when you displayed a hate attitude against the people of the oil-producing states in Nigeria. You openly interjected both Wodu and Mr O’Mac Emakpore each time they tried to speak.
“Natural resources found in regions were controlled by the people of the regions in the country as enunciated in Section 140 of the 1960 Constitution.
“As a former military Head of State of Nigeria (1976-1979), and later a democratically elected President of the country (1999-2007), I am certain Your Excellency knows that the principle of derivation has always been top on the agenda of our national discourse before and after the country’s independence.
“Need Your Excellency be reminded that it was the practice of the principle of derivation that enabled your region, the Western Region, then under Chief Obafemi Awolowo; and the Northern Region, then under Sir Ahmadu Bello, to reap all the money that enabled them to develop far ahead of the then Eastern Region.
“From the benefits of the practice of derivation principle, the Western Region introduced free education, built universities, the first television station in Africa, among other economic and social infrastructure, including hiring at the time, an Israeli company, Soleh Bonel, to develop roads and other infrastructure.”
Clark tackled Obasanjo over his comment that natural resources were God-given and should be available to everyone.
He said that such reasoning “will definitely mean chaos and anarchy, as anybody in any part of the world can enter into any land, including Your Excellency’s Ota Farm, to undertake any activity that they desire to do.”
The Ijaw leader said that if he really meant what he said, Obasanjo should have made similar comments on the Zamfara gold reserves brouhaha.
“By the way Your Excellency, may I ask you, why have you not made a similar outburst against the open declaration of the governor and the people of Zamfara State that the gold under their soil belongs to them?
“Where was Your Excellency when people went to the Villa, accompanied by the governor of the Central Bank of Nigeria, Godwin Emefiele, to present a gold bar to President Muhammadu Buhari mined by the government and people of Zamfara State, as their property?” Clark queried.