BY HENRY UMORU, LEVINUS NWABUGHIOGU & JOSEPH ERUNKE
AHEAD of debates on the report of the Devolution of Powers Committee, a group, the Niger Delta Self-Determination Movement, NDSDM, from the South-South geo- political zone, yesterday, wrote to the Conference Chairman, Justice Idris Kutigi, saying that the people of the region stand on 100 percent resource ownership.
In a 51- page document titled, “Niger Delta, the Economic Life of Nigeria, on Resource Ownership We Stand,” which was circulated to delegates, the group warned that if 100 per cent resource ownership was not achieved, it will secede from the country.
The group faulted the recent rejection of the minority report submitted by a Federal Government delegate and member of Devolution Committee Ms Annkio Briggs, noting that the committee’s recommendation of retaining 13 per cent was conspiratorially meant to undermine the Niger Delta.
“We shall not shift grounds on these positions. Hence, we call on all Southern delegates to the National conference to remain resilient and resolute on our mandate and positions. Finally, on 100 per cent resource ownership we stand or self determination shall be our only option, “they said.
The document is vicious – Clark
Meanwhile, speaking on behalf of the South-South geo- political zone under a point of order on serious national issue, former Federal Commissioner for Information and South-South leader, Chief Edwin Clark, urged Justice Idris Kutigi and other delegates to reject in totality the NDSDM document because it is malicious and vicious and does not represent the interest of the zone.
Said Clark: “Mr. Chairman, in 1966, this country was at the cross roads and a national conference was summoned. The South-South people, then Niger Delta, played a very leading role to keep this country together.
There were five documents prepared. One in yellow, one in red, one in white, one in blue and one in green.
Should this country remain together was one; do you want a unitary form of government- that is two; do you want a federation- that is number three; a confederation; do we break this country. These were the things discussed at that time and the people of Niger Delta under the leadership of Chief Anthony Enahoro, I was a member, we preached that we do not want to break this country. Nigeria is one country and since then we have been together.
“We have been cheated, we have been downtrodden, oppressed, discriminated against. Everything has been done to the people of Niger Delta and we kept quiet.
But today, God has made it that the President of this country is from the South-South or the Niger Delta and we believe that Nigerians voted for us.
We didn’t vote for ourselves and we are members of this country. The importance of this conference is for us to see whether we can build up a new Nigeria. This afternoon, a document came into my hand. This is the document (waving it). I want to say that the South-South members did not subscribe to it. I am the leader, this document is vicious, malicious and it is not a South-South paper. We are investigating this matter and we will report back to you. We are Nigerians and we will remain Nigerians whatever we get from this conference. Thank you and God bless you”.
According to NDSDM, Kutigi must reject in totality, the document earlier made available by Northern Delegates titled: “Key Issues before the Northern Delegates to the 2014 National Conference, Northern Nigeria the backbone and strength of Nigeria” signed by Alhaji Tanko Yakasai, Professor Ango Abdullahi, Dr. Iyorchia Ayu and Mallam Adamu Fika among others.
Describing the northern document as not only dubious but also provocative with a “calculated attempt to reap where it has not sown and this shall no longer be allowed,” the group said: “The northern position was predicated on their permanent right of control over a predatory Federal Government that expropriates the resources of a Niger Delta they consider weak.
“Through the 1999 Constitution, General Abdulsalami Abubakar installed a permanent northern majority in the National Assembly by the lopsided manner the seats in the Senate and House of Representatives have been allocated.
“In the same manner, the numbers of local governments per state have been so structured, as to give the North a permanent majority in local government. The major implication of this is that the direct funding of local governments from Abuja means that the bulk of the 20 percent of the federation account that goes to local governments ends up in the north.”
“We have clearly seen that the future of this country lies in only one direction- true federalism, together with fiscal federalism and resource control by the owners of the resources (resource ownership).
In demanding for very specific solutions for structural changes, which will create an atmosphere for enduring peace, harmony and progress, our findings show that the North has a reserved solid mineral deposit of mainly clay, iron ore, granite, coal and gypsum, among others, valued at about $1,988,799,694,218.00.
“In effect, all the three (3) geo- political zones in northern Nigeria have natural mineral resources, but it appears they are waiting for the oil wells in the Niger Delta to dry- up first, like the one in Oloibiri, before they start enjoying theirs.