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  • Ekise No. 2 Quarters, Patani, Delta State, Nigeria.



The Patriotic Ijaw Leaders of Thought (PILOT), an organization of Ijaw elites, finds it extremely difficult to comprehend the unprovoked outburst and attack on the National Secretary of the Ijaw National Congress by former President, Gen. Olusegun Obasanjo, the now revealed apocalypse or destructive face of Ijaw antagonists, in a recent supposed peace parley convened to seek solutions to Nigeria’s fragile unity. The dialogue on the nation’s fragile security was reportedly convened by Global Peace Foundation and Vision Africa to allow for free expression of the concerns, worries and problems of the various stakeholders with a view to proffering panaceas. Rather than develop the virtue of reflective listening to the pains of others as a potent solution strategy to heal the morbid gape characterizing our polity, Gen. Obasanjo’s uncouth diatribe against the Ijaw nation has exacerbated the incurable malaise of national division and prepared the platform for possible aftermaths. Gen. Obasanjo never shouted down representatives of other ethnic nationalities present but chose to deride, denigrate and ridicule the National Secretary of INC. Beyond stating the generally endorsed Ijaw position of self-determination what was the offence of the INC secretary to earn him this unwarranted attack? Can Obasanjo accommodate a non-Yoruba ridiculing Afenifere secretary in a public parley for merely stating the Yoruba position? This is blind arrogance excessively masqueraded in the toga of a national statesman.

 We do not only take exception to his anachronistic provocative statement that the Ijaw people (of the Niger Delta) have no proprietary rights over the oil and gas resources put beneath the Ijaw land, we totally condemn Obasanjo’s bellicose and effort to deride and disdainfully shut the National Secretary from making his presentation in a national discourse.  The INC secretary did not visit Obasanjo’s Ota farm and therefore he has not right or authority to disruptively interrogate his presentation.  Obasanjo should be clearly told that whereas he may have been favoured by providence to preside over the reins of the Nigerian state twice, no living Nigerian has been part of the greater problems and challenges of Nigeria, as he has continued to portray from time to time his resilience in frustrating genuine peace building efforts. He should be reminded that the Ijaw nation holds him in loathe over his destructive policies over the years and relentless resolve to deny the minorities their right to ownership of resources tucked away in their blighted land. Such tendencies he demonstrated with frenetic verve during his tenure not only as military Head of state (1976 to 1979) when he presided over the enactment of draconian laws but also as civilian president when he willfully affronted the legitimacy of the authority of the National Assembly to pass the NDDC law.

Did Obasanjo truly say that Ijaw people, beneath whose marshy and uninhabitable soil oil and gas resources abound can not lay claim to its ownership? Were such brutally confounding and callous utterances borne out of age induced dementia or out of deep seated hatred for the Ijaw people? We thought with a coveted doctoral degree from National Open University Gen. Obasanjo should have been abreast with the fundamentals of international law to appreciate that a people have the right to ownership over resources found in their land. Let us put in him on perspective with some relevant excerpts of the United Nations resolution 1803 in 1962. It declares:

(1) “the right of people and nations to permanent sovereignty over their natural wealth and resources must be exercised in the interest of their national development and of the wellbeing of the people …”

(2) “The exploration, development and disposition of such resources, as well as the import of foreign capital … should be in conformity with rules and conditions which the people freely consider to be necessary and desirable …”

(7) “Violation of the rights of peoples and nations to sovereignty over their natural wealth and resources is contrary to the spirit and principles of the Charter of the United Nations and hinders the development of international cooperation and the maintenance of peace”.

Does Obasanjo realize that his criminal bully and declaration against the rights of Ijaw people to ownership of their God endowed resources is treacherous, felon, self-serving and tantamount to threat to peace?

Since Obasanjo’s conceptual theory seeking empirical validity advances the hypothesis that a people do not own resources found beneath their soil, it is apposite to ask how did Nigeria come into being? Was there Nigeria before the various ethnic nationalities (including Ijaw nation inhabited the difficult, water logged terrain of the Niger Delta} settled in their various locales? Why did the early European explorers engage the aboriginal Ijaw leaders and Kings of the Niger Delta in trade treaties, especially palm oil, from 1847 to 1913, not the Nigerian state? Why didn’t Obasanjo and his criminal gang of economic rapists claim ownership of the palm oil and other resources which formed the crux of trade treaties, during the precolonial era since no people have exclusive ownership of anything found in their land.

Gen. Obasanjo rude comments and insult on the sensibilities of the Ijaw nation has further exposed the hypocrisy of the Nigerian state. Whereas the natural resources found in Ijaw land in line with the conspiracy  theory belongs to Obasanjo’s treasured state, the bitumen, iron ore, gold and other resources found in western states belong to the people of the western states.  Such resources have no revenue yielding capacity to accrue proceeds to the federation account for our common use.

We know that General Obasanjo’s hatred for the Ijaw people has been pathological, genial and legendary. We are therefore not surprised at his latest virulent outburst that the Ijaw people own no oil and gas resources. The same deluded euphoria led him to enact the infamous Land Use Decree 1978 transferring the ownership of land from the people to the state. This was to further strengthen the Petroleum Decree 1969 which forcefully expropriated the people’s right to ownership. As part of his exploits on infamy the same Gen. Obasanjo surreptitiously resurrected the onshore-offshore dichotomy which Gen. Ibrahim Babaginda regime had effectively abolished through Decree 106 of 1992 as a civilian president.  We know that Gen. Obasanjo’s penchant for leadership in Nigeria has always been inspired by his greed for proceeds from oil and gas resources which he appropriates whimsically. Little wonder he made himself the Minister of Petroleum Resources as President, Nothing better explains his grand sense of deception and subterfuge for the people of the Niger Delta than his refusal to assent to the NDDC bill, 2000 for the simple fact that members of the National Assembly provided for 10% contribution from the Federal Government, a law he observed in gutter breach by refusing to implement the 10% financial provision until he left office. Is anything thus strange about  the same man who presided over the allocation of oil blocks in the Ijaw land to his cronies? Nothing other than the fear that a determined Ijaw people to take their destiny in their hands would deny him access and control over his prized oil assets underscores this insensate attack on the INC leadership?

Known for his penchant to destroy and kill Ijaw people, we see his unspoken resolve, just like his co-travelers on this dangerous path, is to exterminate the entire Ijaw nation so as to take over the oil and gas assets. We will not be amazed if another Odi and Ayakoromo sad experiences is already in the offing.

Let Gen. Obasanjo and his ilk be told without equivocation that no amount of threat can deter the Ijaw people from seeking self-determination within the legal precinct of international law, if not for anything, to put finite stop to criminal rape on our natural assets. Since listening patiently to a people’s concerns and challenges with a view to providing solution has become a thorny problem for Obasanjo’s Nigeria, we shall peacefully and quietly leave it for him.


Dr. Ayakeme E. Whisky


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