By Dele Sobowale
“An invasion of armies can be resisted; but not an idea whose time has come.” Victor Hugo, 1802-1885.
A man fighting for his life, or a political party fighting for survival are in no position to fight for anything else. The All Progressives Congress, APC, and its leaders are fighting for dear lives. The last thing they will pursue between now and Election Day 2019 is restructuring.
Surely, they will deceive us by claiming “commitment to restructuring” in their election manifesto for the 2019 polls. Only a moron will believe them.
First, the largest collection of willful dissemblers ever to rule Nigeria is now gathered in the most famous rock in Africa. Every single day brings a new topic and reveals a new individual whose words should never be believed. If they are not spreading falsehood about an international award; they are releasing figures about looting of the treasury which don’t add up.
Recently, Senator Danjuma Goje, an APC Senator, declared that he had not met a single person benefiting from Buhari’s legacy project – the Social Intervention Programme, SIP.
Promptly, a rejoinder came from the Rumour Villa. A Senior Special Assistant released a personal attack on Goje without providing an address where the Senator can meet a beneficiary of the scam called SIP. I have also been in search of the recipients to no avail. These guys are not only untruthful; they are uniformly illogical in their thinking.
“O! what a tangled web we weave/When first we practice to deceive.” Sir Walter Scott, 1771-1832.
Nigerians are now witnessing what happens when deceit is central policy of a government. Special Adviser of Rumour Villa announced that only N110 billion out of N1.1 trillion had been released. Fair enough. But, like all purveyours of half-truths he failed to disclose two important facts about the disbursement of funds for SIP.
One, the National Assembly, NASS, approved N1.1 trillion; but Buhari’s government released only N110 billion or one tenth. Whose fault? Second, out of the N110 billion, only N6.6 billion was spent on feeding the school children who were used to get the budget approved. Who swallowed ninety four per cent if the kids got only six per cent?
That leads me straight to the point of today’s message.
In the last three years, the Federal Government has been engaging in a venture which strictly speaking belongs to the states and local governments. Trillions of naira have been spent and perhaps looted, through SIP, by those not even close to oil territory.
Far more than were ever allocated to the Niger Delta Development Commission, NDDC, and the Ministry for Niger Delta combined for as long as oil was produced in Nigeria was spent on this ill-conceived and executed project. And the cheating will continue. There is no single top official from the oil-producing states among the people spending money coming from down south. So, the struggle must continue as well.
Now that restructuring has emerged as the idea whose time has come, the nation has been divided sharply into two. This is a non-partisan, non-religious, non-ethnic struggle. Everyone is on one side or the other. There can be no fence-sitting henceforth.
“Once to every man and nation comes the moment to decide; in the strife between truth and falsehood, for the good or evil side.”—James Russell Lowell, 1819-1891.
Back in 2000 to 2004 three brave leaders of the South South zone fought for RESOURCE CONTROL. Two of them paid terrible prices for daring to challenge President Obasanjo who wanted derivation to remain at 1.5 per cent with onshore-offshore dichotomy included. If Obasanjo had had his way, the oil-producing states would look a lot different than they do today.
Governors Alamiesegha, Ibori and Attah secured 13 per cent derivation for the people of all oil producing states. Even then, these three heroes of the Niger Delta were unanimous in their thinking that 13 per cent was only the beginning of the quest for social and economic justice in Nigeria if federalism means anything. They were not alone.
I was willingly drafted into the struggle by ex-Governor Victor Attah who invited me to write the Foreword to the first edition of ATTAH ON RESOURCE CONTROL which was published in 2004. Lagos was not an oil-producing state then. Despite the obvious lack of benefit for my own state, permit me to repeat what was written in that lead to the book.
“Resource Control, peace and development, equity and fair play, as well as justice are universal concerns of people throughout history.
In…especially Nigeria, the major tribes [Hausa, Ibo and Yoruba] have connived to deprive the people of the Niger Delta of a fair share of the proceeds of the oil produced from their backyards leaving the people of the Delta with only devastated environment incapable of supporting any form of economic activity, not to talk of development.
IT IS MERELY STATING THE OBVIOUS THAT HAD THE CRUDE OIL BEEN LOCATED IN THE SOUTH WEST, THE PRINCIPLE OF [50 PER CENT] DERIVATION WITHOUT DICHOTOMY….WOULD HAVE BEEN UNAMBIGUOUSLY ENTRENCHED IN OUR CONSTITUTION TODAY.” In another column written the same year, I went further to state that the rest of Nigeria would have granted the Yoruba 50 per cent or there would have been no Nigeria as we know it today.
The oil-producing states were being cheated because they lacked cohesion and it was the fear that Alams, Attah and Ibori might unite the South South which made them marked men for destruction at all costs. For a long time the adversaries of true federalism succeeded in fooling most of the people. They portrayed Alams and Ibori as villains – just as Isaac Boro and Ken Siro-Wiwa were branded criminals. But, truth triumphs at last.
“If you shut up truth and bury it underground, it will but grow and gather to itself such explosive power that the day it bursts through, it will blow everything in its way.” (Emile Zola, 1840-1902). We are confronted with stark truth at last. Abuja, as it exists is a national fraud!!
Just as the people of the Niger Delta seemed to have resigned themselves to their fate – receiving crumbs, that is – the nation itself woke up to the truth in 2014 after another Constitutional Conference. True Federalism, Restructuring became fashionable. The productive states saw trillions of their revenue getting buried with corpses left behind by Boko Haram and herdsmen. Heads of pension, NNPC, and Ministry of Interior – all from non-oil producing states – were/are in charge of billions carried to Abuja. Clearly, the WAYO GAME we all call Federal Republic of Nigeria must be overhauled before we proceed further.
However, before rushing forward, we need to take a look at fourteen years of RESOURCE CONTROL and how much had been achieved for a mere 13 per cent. Then we can appreciate how much more further the states could have gone if they got twenty five per cent and all the stakeholders were united. Two of the heroes of the first effort will be there on April 25, 2018, to lead us as a revised edition of RESOURCE CONTROL is launched in Lagos. Everybody living in an oil-producing state now owes these leaders a debt of gratitude.
Given space constraint, only 400 people can be accommodated at the venue. Notices are already going out to some vital guests. All the Governors and elected officials have been sent notices. Invitations will follow soon. Nobody can claim ignorance of the event. However, everybody can participate. A copy of the book purchased at the venue will attract a cover charge of N5000. Copies delivered to any address in Nigeria will cost N6000. So, book your own copy. On April 25, 2018 the second round of struggle for RESOURCE CONTROL will begin in Lagos. The goal is 50 per cent derivation..