‘Oil, other minerals don’t belong to their existing locations’, Obasanjo replies Edwin Clark

Former president, Olusegun Obasanjo, has told foremost Ijaw statesman, Chief Edwin Clark, that crude oil or any other minerals located in any territory in Nigeria do not belong to the areas they are found.

In his response to a letter he received from the ex-federal commissioner of information, who had complained of the former president’s “unprovoked outburst against the people of the Niger-Delta”, Obasanjo asserted that the ownership claim of crude oil by Niger-Delta amounts to creating sovereign entities within a State.

Obasanjo maintained that those who purchase crude oil from Nigeria enter into a contractual relationship with Nigeria and not the Niger Delta, adding that if for any reason the region is threatened by external forces, it will be the responsibility of the federal government to mobilise to defend the area.

He said just as the crude in the Niger-Delta, he stands on the same logic in respect of the gold being mined in Zamfara State.

The former president, however, added that he had proposed that equity and justice demand that those domiciled in these locations be entitled to more of the material benefits accruing from the crude oil or other minerals.

He stated that, “The Constitution that affects Niger-Delta region affects Zamfara State where gold is found, and if anybody at the Federal level has remised in implementing the Constitution, then that is a different matter.

“The gold in Ilesha, Osun State and the lead in Ebonyi State, all come under the same Law and Constitution.

Obasanjo rejected allegations that he was angry or distraught against the Niger-Delta saying that he always dwelt on leadership performance.

The former president buttressed his position with the 1963 Constitution, which he said Clark had earlier cited.

He further told Clark: “If we all demand what we consider as our rights without yielding and with unbending stature, we will be wrong and record failure at the end of the day. Reform is a continuous exercise but relatively slow in achieving results.

“Revolution for sea-change may rarely happen; and then we may continue to languish in frustration and regret with a dire judgment of posterity”.

Obasanjo, however, conceded that the country is going through a tough time.

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