Former President Olusegun Obasanjo on Tuesday insisted that the oil found in the Niger Delta region belonged to Nigeria constitutionally, but denied accusation that he was against the oil producing region.
Obasanjo made the assertion in a six page letter he wrote in response to accusation against him by Niger Delta elder, Chief Edwin Clark in an open letter about a week ago following his comments on the issue at a forum.
Clark, had accused Obasanjo of holding a deep seated disdain for the people of the oil producing region based on the former President’s assertion that oil found in the Niger Delta belong to Nigeria and not the region.
Obasanjo was responding to assertion by the National Secretary of the INC, Ebipamowei Woduat, a forum convened by the Global Peace Foundation and Vision Africa in Abuja that Nigeria should allow Niger Delta to derive full benefits from the oil found in the region.
But Clark who is the leader of the Pan Niger Delta Forum, PANDEF, and Chairman of the Board of Trustees, INC, had in his open letter, said Obasanjo’s comments that the oil found in the Niger Delta does not belong to the people of the region represents his continuous arrogant stance and negative disposition against Niger Delta.
However, in his open letter of Tuesday, Obasanjo insisted that he has never hated Niger Delta while reiterating his stance that oil found in the region belonged to the Nigerian federation in his six page letter dated December 28, Obasanjo.
“For me personally, I have never shown any anger or distraught with Nigeria nor with any part or region of Nigeria. I will rather pick points on leadership or policies and I will continue to do so,” the President said.
He added that his records before and after the civil war in Niger Delta Region was without blemish and it was all goodness and goodwill to all the people of Nigeria and Niger Delta.
“But if you take my holding a constitutional position on federalism and reiterating the position of our past past constitution – 1963 Constitution as I understand it as anger or grievance against the Niger Delta or Nigeria Delta people that will be a very wrong position to take because until I can be legally and constitutional persuaded, otherwise i will continue to hold my ground.”
Obasanjo who added that the 1963 Constitution did not confer ownership of oil and other mineral resources on any of the then regions.
He insisted that just as the Niger Delta’s oil belong to the Nigerian federation, the minerals in other parts of the country also belonged to the country.
“The gold in Ilesha, Osun State and the lead in Ebonyi State all come under the same law and constitution. There is no part of Nigeria whose interest is not dear to my heart. And stating in your letter that it’s only that interest of the North that I continually hold dear to my heart is the type of Bukah gossip that knowing you as I do since 1975, I am not suprised that you echoed,” Obasanjo.
“Some of the languages you have deployed to describe me in your letter are offensive, uncouth and I totally and completely rejected them.
“I am not inconsistent, hypocritical, un-statesman, and nor am I anybody’s lackey. You use you own yardstick to judge others. I fear God and I respect those who respect themselves and I hope it is about time you change from a tribesman to a statesman,” Obasanjo said.