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RECKLESS

Posted by By BEIFO OSEWELE on 2008/07/04 | Views: 1684 |

RECKLESS


Prominent South-South leader and first executive governor of Edo State, Chief John Odigie-Oyegun, has lampooned the Arewa Consultative Forum (ACF) for ascribing the lack of development in the Niger-Delta region to the failure of the leaders in the area.

•Ex-Gov berates ACF over outburst against N’Delta leaders

Prominent South-South leader and first executive governor of Edo State, Chief John Odigie-Oyegun, has lampooned the Arewa Consultative Forum (ACF) for ascribing the lack of development in the Niger-Delta region to the failure of the leaders in the area.

Odigie-Oyegun said the statement was not only untrue, but reckless, highly unfortunate and very provocative.
He dismissed any attempt to absolve the federal government of blame in the despoliation and abject condition of the zone as nothing but attempt as standing facts on their head.

He argued that while it is true that leaders from the oil rich region have played a part in the underdevelopment of the area, it is not correct to blame them solely for the parlous state of the Niger Delta.

In an interview with the Daily Sun, the erstwhile NADECO chieftain said the problem of the Niger Delta which has snowballed into armed conflict transcended the so-called corruption of the Niger Delta leaders. Instead, he said it should be taken for what it really is: a pan-Nigeria creation.
Not only is Odigie-Oyegun peeved by the attempt to segment the problem as a regional problem, he is also of the view that the timing of the statement is wrong.

"At a time when all men of goodwill are concerned not with trying to find fault, but solution to a problem that can bring the nation to its knees, putting the blame for the crisis on the doorstep of the Niger Delta leaders alone is, to say the least, unfortunate."
While placing the blame for the festering crisis squarely on the shoulders of the federal government, Odigie-Oyegun also cautioned that what is required at the moment is how to find a lasting solution to the crisis rather than embarking on what he called ‘blame game’.

"I think the whole nation should be blamed for the Niger Delta fiasco. The problem was caused by the insensitivity of government to the environmental degradation for decades, as well as the fact that the people were not benefiting from the proceeds of the resources from the backyard," he argued. "But this is a time to seek answers to a national malaise and not one for bandying accusations or playing the blame game. That would not benefit anybody, at all."

According to him, the crisis did not creep on the nation overnight. "We saw it coming long ago. If government had heeded warning signs from the Adaka Boros and the Ken Saro-Wiwas, the situation we have on our hands at the moment would have been averted.
"The warning signs were there all these while, right from the 1960s when we had Major Adaka Boro and later Saro-Wiwa. Therefore, it is improper to write off the problem as the creation of the last eight years or so. That would be oversimplifying a complex issue, which resulted from the criminal neglect of the past Nigerian leaders. That will be wrong."
ACF, the umbrella socio-cultural organisation for the northern states, had risen from its meeting in Kaduna last weekend blaming the persistent militancy in the Niger Delta region on the failure of leaders from the area.

Specifically, ACF had accused the leadership of the region of not translating the huge resources accruing to the Niger Delta into developmental projects for enhanced standard of living for the people.
According to the forum in a communiqué issued at the end of its national executive council: "It must be pointed out that recent regimes have embarked on spirited efforts to address the problems of the Niger Delta region.

"Such efforts range from OMPADEC through the NDDC, to full implementation of 13 per cent derivation. That is why a state in the Niger Delta region would have a budget of N377 billion while another state in the same country would have N53 billion as its budget.
"In fact, as recent as last month, some states in the Niger Delta took home as much as N42 billion while many of the non-oil producing states went home with a paltry N6 billion.
"If these huge resources have not translated into developmental projects and enhanced standard of living, then it is simply not fair to blame the national government alone; the managers of these resources to the Niger Delta region are more culpable."

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