By Emma Amaize
Former Minister of State for Education Olorogun Kenneth Gbagi, said there was urgent need for the South, North, East, and West, notwithstanding political inclination, to sit down and reach agreement on how to take over power in 2023 to save the country from the present maladministration.
Gbagi, a 2023 governorship aspirant in Delta state, who spoke to newsmen at his country home, Oginibo, Ughelli South local government area, shortly after his installation as Aare Atunluse of Akure Kingdom, Ondo State, weekend, also charged the National Assembly to ratify between 20- 25 per cent for host oil communities in the revised Petroleum Industry Act, PIA.
He said: “The problem of Nigeria today is government which has not been able to manage the diversities of the people and turn it a huge advantage.”
“I believe that the South and North should sit down irrespective of this game of political shift and what have you and come to a consensus as to how we want to take power from this dead situation of no governance in 2023.”
“They should pick the minds of the greatest of our people in PDP, including the ones that are PDP in the night and APC in the day, on who is our best to manage the affairs of the country. If not, to waste any further time other than to right the wrongs of today, we are finished as a country.
“If you look at it for instance, who are the people that are acceptable in the nation, here in Niger Delta, you have a man like Governor Ifeanyi Okowa, whether you like it or not, he appeals to the North, South, East and West, because of his open nature as a person, we are looking for leaders that will bring help to the helpless, that will bring peace to the country.
“I know a lot of them who are my friends in the North but the end of the day, we need to settle down and reach a consensus as to how Nigeria will be greater than what we are seeing today. “The unfortunate situation since 2015 to now of government at the centre leaves much to be desired and we must come together to correct it whether North, East, West and South.
As a people, this country belongs to us, God is not finished when he said this is our own. We must make sure we do the best,” he said.
Pointing out that he accepted the new chieftaincy title of Aare Atunluse of Akure Kingdom, Ondo State, from the Deji of Akure, His Imperial Majesty, whom he had never met until the day of installation, he said: “Nigerians do not have enmity among themselves, if there is a problem in Nigeria today, that problem is the government.”
“And it is because government has not been able to the nation’s population, what ought to the happiest thing in its life to advantage. Population everywhere in the world is a money-spinner but all of that we are toying with hence we are today.”
“I am pained as a man who has done security all my life, all the people running away from PDP to APC are not really APC members, they are PDP members in blood, in soul and body. And they are all going to work for PDP because PDP is going to produce the next President of Nigeria.
“When I left government as minister, it was 156 naira to a dollar and it was maintained, yes, we had the skirmishes of Boko Haram but it was not to the magnitude of what we are talking about today, Nobody impregnated our mother, wives and sisters in their villages under the guise that they are herdsmen, nobody thought about the magnitude of these gun toting, bloodthirsty drunkenness.
“We are Nigerians, we must bring ourselves together to immediately correct the ugly situation before mercenaries or government of other nations come to correct it for us. The population will explode at any time.
“If you follow the trend, all these people are going to use security agents to threaten that if you do not join APC, they will carry you; all of these people moving to APC are not APC members but PDP members that will come back and you will have a situation where they, who thought they had forced people to join APC would find out that the people are only APC members in the day, but PDP members in the night.
“Exactly what happened to former President Goodluck Jonathan, after blackmail against Jonathan at the time, they voted for Buhari believing that he had agenda, but everybody has come to see that it is all a ruse.
“There is no security in the country, food has soared out of the reach of a common man, when Jonathan left government, rice was about N15, 000 or so, but now, a bag of rice is N36, 000. Garri, the common food of the poor man is not affordable. Nothing of the thought of the supposed poor man is being considered today in Nigeria, where then do we go, is it in the military, where they have politicized the whole thing.
Under Obasanjo, there was federal character, under Jonathan, it even favored the North, but today, there is no federal character today in place in Nigeria under Buhari. Everybody is living under one threat or the other in Nigeria, investors have left the country.
“We must have a common free economic situation to allow the states to thrive, again, my advocacy is that we should as a people sit down to reverse a number of things left for us by the colonial masters that are no longer applicable to the life and society of today.
“We must avoid a second occurrence of EndSARS because the youths are fed up, they are crying, we have to provide for our youths, we do not have a demography of how many youths we have per ward, local government, state, etc , Buhari does not have it,” stated.
Nothing less than 20-25 % for host communities
On the PIA sent back to the National Assembly by President Buhari for modification, he asserted: “President Buhari acted sensibly by sending the PIA to the National Assembly for amendment. The Petroleum Industry Bill, PIB, as passed by the National Assembly was a time bomb and the president acted sensibly knowing the true position”.
“My advice to NASS which had hitherto failed to look at the historic perspective of this country and consequently passed such a worthless law, which is the reason that I never made any comment all the while is that the lawmakers should review the PIA in favour of host communities to 20 per cent and create a council that will manage the fund on behalf of the individual communities with those of the oil companies operating within the areas.
“I do not see anything less than 20-25 per cent at the end of the day, the federal government and oil companies should make do with 75 per cent which is more than enough. As I said, give the host communities 25 per cent.
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“Secondly, NASS should go further in their amendment of PIA to move the oil companies back to their operational headquarters. The PIA is a peace document that Buhari/NASS must correct for it to work.
“Once you do that, you are creating peace, secondly, all the companies must go back to their operational area. If our area is good to produce oil and gas, then the company must move there. You do not have any oil company operating in Texas going to live in New York and pay tax to New York but exploring oil in Texas.
“It does not work away, it is about time they start respecting the idiosyncrasies of our people, Before it is too long, let the oil companies move contiguous to their areas of production for them to see peace. We do not want to go back to the days of cutting pipe and days of destroying anything.
“Let us sit down on a round-table and negotiate, what Mobil is doing in Lagos, what money does Mobil makes in Lagos; what is Chevron Nigeria Limited doing in Lekki, Lagos, they are tapping their oil in Akwa Ibom and Delta state. Let government provide them adequate security that they get in Lagos in Niger -Delta and they move contiguously.
“I made this proposal when I was a Minister that if Chevron move to Delta for instance, government should allow them to build an International Airport and land their aircraft directly here in Delta and the same Immigration, Customs, everything security in Lagos, which is Nigerian should also be at the airport in Delta state and development will start flowing.
“And people will be happy and have a sense of belonging with Chevron because they will employ drivers here, license their vehicles here, get cook here, get nannies here and all that.
“Ditto, Mobil should go Eket, sell their property in Lagos, let government take their 60 per cent and the company its 40 per cent , relocate to Eket and let the people of Eket enjoy the benefits of what God has given them
“If you calculate the company spends on aircraft movement of their staff to their various locations in the creeks of Niger Delta, the country is bleeding and whose money is it, it is the oil producing communities’ money that they are spending.
“Do you know how many air crafts come from Lagos to Escravos in Delta state on daily basis bringing workers in out who are not staying with the people, but their oil and gas are good for you to carry.
“This whole idea of people flying from Bayelsa to Abuja or Lagos is nonstarter. Let SPDC move to its operational headquarters in Port- Harcourt, what are they doing in Lagos? NAOC, which is Agip should also relocate to Bayelsa state, the PIA must be totally reviewed”, he said.