• Fight for resource control not over yet –Ibori
Former governor of Akwa Ibom State, Victor Attah, has accused former president Olusegun Obasanjo of ending the federal system of governance, which, he said, should have moved the country forward.
He said this yesterday, during the launch of his book, ‘Attah on Resource Control: Selected speeches and commentaries,” in Lagos. The book was edited by veteran journalist, Dele Sobowale.
Attah said: “If Obasanjo has been a democrat, Nigeria would not have been where it is today; he didn’t only oppose the concept of resource control, he brought back the outdated concept of dichotomy. I opposed him when he said Akwa Ibom was not an oil producing state, because the oil is offshore. Would you say Lagos is not an oil producing state because the oil is offshore? Or would you say the minerals we mine do not belong to the states because they are found underneath the earth? These are the kind of things those in authority were doing.
“Resource control is not just for the Niger Delta, it is beneficial to the entire country. We must establish true federalism by restructuring Nigeria; we must discuss resource control in the context of true federalism, and that is the only way the country can make progress.”
On his part, Senior Advocate of Nigeria, Femi Okunrounmu, who was the chairman on the occasion, also, blamed Obasanjo for the country’s problems. He said if the former president had supported the recommendations to the 1979 constitution, of which resource control was a major issue, the country would have been better than it is.
“I have gone through all our constitutions, including the 1922, 1946, 1950/51, 1954, 1960, 1979 and 1999, and recollected that the Obasanjo regime of 1979 did not accept a good number of our recommendations on the constitution amendment. I, also, discovered that Nigeria ceased to be a federation in 1979, after federalism was killed by Obasanjo. The 1979 Constitution, which was approved by him was what killed the federal system, so, he is part of our country’s problems, even though he is now masquerading as a saviour.
“In the 1960/63 constitution, 50 percent of the revenue goes to the states, while the Federal Government gets 20 percent. Gowon, Murtala and Obasanjo followed it, but, in the 1979 constitution, the federal government grabbed more than 50 percent revenue, and there was nothing left for states, where revenue is derived. That is why governors now queue at the Ministry of Finance every month, to get money from the federal government for their states. The items on the Exclusive list jumped from 44 to almost 70 today, and the federal government has taken over Residual powers like the issue of land which used to be under the state government. My preference is that we go back to the 1963 constitution; and, to do that, we must sit down and discuss, because the National Assembly is incapable of amending the constitution.
In the same vein, former governor of Delta State, James Ibori, who was a special guest at the launch said: “The struggle for resource control is a struggle that has not come to an end. What has been settled is the offshore/onshore political solution. Every single person in the Niger Delta supports the advocacy for resource control and even today, we are holding onto the idea that one day, there would be paradise. This issue is of importance to the whole country and with time people would understand why.”