By Adekola Afolabi,
Sade Adewale &
Pan Yoruba Social Cultural Organisation (Afenifere) and other stakeholders in the oil producing areas of Ondo state have condemned the call by the leader of Pan Niger Delta Forum (PANDEF), Chief Edwin Clark, asking President Bola Tinubu to remove Abia, Imo and Ondo from the Niger-Delta Development Commission (NDDC).
The PANDEF leader had said NDDC should remain the six original Niger Delta Coastal States, adding all other oil-producing states should establish a relationship with the oil companies and Nigeria.
He likened the NDDC to a liability company which also has majority shareholders and minority shareholders.
According to him, “a situation where a minority shareholder in a limited liability company would like to be a Managing Director of the company, is unreasonable, improper and chaotic.
“That is the main reason why I said no”.
Reacting to the comments during an interview with The Hope, the Ondo State Chairman of Afenifere, Chief Korede Duyile, described the comments by Edwin Clark as sectional which only represented the Ijaws, and not the entire country.
“In Ondo State, it took a long struggle before we could be included but the fact is that oil is oil. With the ones that we have we are an oil producing state. Clark was just speaking as Niger Delta leader and not as a Nigerian leader who should look forward towards coexistence of all ethnic groups.
“He is just asking that Yorubas and Igbos should be removed. Even now, as far as I know oil is now being discovered in Lagos and they are all coastal States. So, instead of even asking one to be removed I think there will be additions and there is nothing we can do about it except they want to divide the country.
Also, some leaders in the oil producing area of Ondo state, precisely Ilaje local government including the immediate past Special Adviser on Niger Delta Affairs to Governor Oluwarotimi Akeredolu, Prince Oyebo Aladetan (JP) and the Ogeloyinbo of Aiyetoro, in Ilaje Local Government Area, Oba, Micah Olaseni Ajijo, frowned at the statement by Chief Edwin Clark and appealed to President Bola Tinubu to ignore his advice with a golden silence.
Aladetan, a former member of Ondo State House of Assembly explained that, “Ondo state oil producing areas are even more vulnerable to sea incursion as a result of the oil exploration and exploitation than any other of the nine states that constitute the Niger Delta region in Nigeria.
“Chief Edwin Clark, a well-known leader in Nigeria should take cognizance of the originality of the geographical map of the Niger Delta region of Nigeria upon which the NDDC Act of the National Assembly originated from.
“It should be noted that he cannot rewrite, redraw or alter the map of Niger Delta region based on sentiments as expressed by him.”
He stressed that the devastating environmental degradation of the Niger Delta region, volatile security conditions, and fragile economy of the country should be the major concern of the elder statesman, just as he called for the declaration of a state of emergency through meaningful collaboration, cohabitation and synergy and not on the bifurcation of the Niger Delta region.
“The request is unwarranted, uncalled for, and least expected from him,” Aladetan said.
On his part, a former House of Assembly member, Ifedayo Akinsoyinu, equally disagreed with the position of Chief Edwin Clark, saying the composition of the NDDC should not be the issue, rather, it should be the way the 13% derivation is shared out to the oil producing states and how effectively each member-state is benefiting from what it is producing.
According to him, no matter how few or many the number of oil wells a member-state has, it must be allowed to have a sense of belonging, by recognizing it as a full -fledged member.
He said experience has shown generally that, what you are, determines what you say or the position you canvass on any National issue.
“For example, “if Mr. A is a journalist in a private organization, he will surely criticize the oil subsidy removal policy because of the attendant hardship on the masses. If, however, Mr. A is now made the Minister of Information, in this same country, he will immediately become the leading Advocate of the oil subsidy removal policy, listing its advantages,” Akinsoyinu added.
The Ogeloyinbo of Aiyertoro, in ilaje LG, Oba, Micah Olaseni Ajijo described the statement by Chief Edwin Clark as a challenging discourse in an unsettled polity looking for accommodation and reconciliation of its ethnic nationalities.
He said, fortunately, NDDC is not a private liability company that can be managed along the elder statesman’s line of thought.
“The drafters of the enabling act setting up the NDDC are more concerned with nation building. So, let the Niger Delta be a united ecological region of Nigeria, working in unison for the good and socio-economic emancipation of its communities,” the monarch advised.