The Chairman Board of Trustees of the Centre for Human Rights and Anti-Corruption (CHURAC), Cleric E. Alaowei, Esq, today said former President Olusegun Obasanjo’s reply to Chief Edwin Kiagbodo Clark’s letter is unnecessary.
Alaowei made the assertion in a statement signed and made available to NEWSMAN.
He said the former president relied on the provisions of the 1999 Military Decree, otherwise known as the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria.
According to Alaowei, “To us in the Niger Delta, that Military Decree did not reflect the will of the people. A constitution is supposed to be the true reflection of the people’s will but that’s not the case with the 1999 Constitution.
“That is the reason why Nigerians are agitating for the constitutional review. Of course, Chief Olusegun Obasanjo should have known better, the outcome of the National Political Reforms Conference (NPC) in 2005 which he convened.
“If the provisions of the 1999 constitution were acceptable to the Niger Delta people, the latter wouldn’t had boycotted the Conference when the demand for 25% derivation was rejected by the conferees.
“OBJ ought to have informed the world that his NPC and the 2014 National Dialogue approved 18% derivation for the producing States. If the ownership of the natural resources belong to the central government as erroneously provided in that military Decree, the Constitutional conferences from 2005 to date would not have resolved to increase the derivation in the Constitution in order to address the yearnings of the Niger Delta people.
“There’s a national consensus that the natural resources belong to the people whose lands produce them but draconian military Decrees were promulgated by competing interests to deny the people of their rights.
“That is the reason why they’re making an upward review of the provisions of the constitution in order to appease the people whose rights have been constitutionally stolen from them.
“OBJ also relied on international treaties to support his constitutional claim of ownership of natural resources. We stand to be corrected. The provisions of the African Charter on Human and People’s Rights which was domesticated in Nigeria did not vest ownership of natural resources in the Federal Government of Nigeria.
“That treaty clearly provides that ownership of natural resources belong to the people where they’re found. Baba Obasanjo should tell us the particular treaty that gives ownership of natural resources to the Federal Government of Nigeria.
“We believe, the former President is only trying to be economical with the truth. We agree with Chief E. K. Clark that the natural resources belong to the people and not the central government. That’s the practice in the world over.
“Whether or not our constitution vests ownership in the Federal Government as against the interest of the oil-bearing host communities, we will continue to agitate for our rights. Niger Delta people and indeed, a good number of Nigerians are in agreement with the Elder Statesman, Chief Edwin Kiagbodo Clark.”