Ex-Nigerian President, Chief Olusegun Obasanjo in response to an open letter written to him by leader of the Pan Niger Delta Forum (PANDEF), Chief Edwin Kiagbodo Clark, has stated that crude oil found within the territory of Nigeria belongs to all Nigerians, and not to any section of its citizenry.
This is coming on the backdrop of the claims by the elder statesman that Obasanjo has displayed open hatred and lack of regards for the people of Niger Delta not considering the hardships they daily face as oil companies leave their communities in deplorable states during and after crude oil refining.
The former president told Clark who had accused him of kicking against those advocating resource control for Niger Delta, that any mineral resource discovered in any part of Nigeria, belongs to the federation, including the oil in the Niger Delta region.
Clark had maintained that the environmental, social cum economic sacrifices made by the people of Niger Delta on crude oil, is the bedrock on which the economy of Nigeria stands.
Obasanjo, on Tuesday, explained that his submission on resource control in the country is legal, constitutional and free of bias.
He warned against creating a scenario where there are two sovereign entities within a nation, making claims on resources which are constitutionally those of the federation.
He noted that any contract on the nation’s crude oil is meant to be executed between an interested party and the Federal Government on behalf of all Nigerians.
“All those who purchase crude oil from Nigeria enter into contractual relationship with Nigeria not with the Niger Delta.
“The territory of Nigeria is indivisible inclusive of the resources found therein.
“No territory in Nigeria including the minerals found therein belongs to the area of location and this remains so until the federation is dissolved”
“This is the position of the Nigerian constitution and international law,” he noted.
The former military general further explained the modality by which Government uses to protect the interests of the host communities where the resources are situated while he declared that he stands for equity and justice to any region or faction of the country.
He said: “If there is a threat of violence to any part of Nigeria today, including the Niger Delta, it is the Nigerian military, backed by any other machinery, that can be procured or established at the federal level that will respond to any such threat.
“In principle and practice, the position I have taken on the location of mineral resources in any part of Nigeria is the legal and constitutional position.
“For emphasis and to further buttress the point, the provision is even in the exclusive list – exclusively reserved for the federal government.
“And stating in your letter that it is only the interest of the north I continuously hold dear to my heart is that type of buka gossip that, knowing you as I do since 1975, I am not surprised that you echoed.
“I have always stood for equity and justice in our federation and, for me, tribe has to be suppressed for the state to emerge.
“And until the state emerges, Nigeria will not make the desired progress, as tribesmen will always sacrifice state for tribe.
“This has always been my position and it will remain my position until I breathe my last.”
Taking his farmland in Otta, Ogun State for an example, he stressed that the Federation Government has a constitutional right to take over the land if any mineral resource is discovered there but may offer some compensation if he lays claims on projects and developments already carried out or embarked upon.
“It would not matter what I grow on my farm and what development I have carried out. Compensation I could get based on assessed development that I had carried out on the farmland.
“The gold in Ilesha, Osun State, and the lead in Ebonyi State, all come under the same law and constitution.
“There is no part of Nigeria, whose interest is not dear to my heart,” Obasanjo stated.