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N’Delta summit: Choice of chairman matters – Onosode
Written by
MODESTUS CHUKWULAKA, Abuja and EMMANUEL OGOIGBE, Warri

Noting that the Niger Delta problem had been left to fester for too long, Onosode who chaired the Niger Delta Environmental Study (NDES) said all hope was not lost. He spoke in Abuja at the presentation of two books to mark his 75th birthday, including a biography and his book on Environmental Issues in the Niger Delta. The event was hosted by the National Universities Commission (NUC).

According to him, government needs to demonstrate a transparent commitment for a change and take the issues serious instead of seeing it as yet another political problem that needs to be fixed. “The point I made very clearly is that we have all contributed to get where we are today, we must work together to solve the problem,” he said.

However, the Niger-Delta Democratic Union (NDDU) has attacked the proposed summit, saying it is unnecessary, diversionary, just as it also condemned the Federal Government’s gunboat diplomatic response to the Niger-Delta question.

Rising from a one-day quarterly meeting of the people’s parliament held on Sunday in Warri, Delta State, the union further viewed the proposed summit as a jamboree that will yield no benefit to the people of the region.

In a communiqué signed by Mr. Akpo Mudiaga-Odje and Comrade Franklin Oseya, convener and facilitator and secretary respectively, the union, however, called on the federal government to immediately jettison the whole idea of a summit and rather harmonize and implement previous reports and recommendations on Niger-Delta such as the Henry Willink report of 1958, the Popoola report, the Ogomudia report and the rest.

“The so-called Excess Crude oil Account should be abolished immediately. We call on President Umar Yar’Adua to stop further illegal withdrawals from it such as the five Billion Dollars withdrawn to fund the power sector as approved by the National Economic Council (NEC),” the organization stressed.
“We consider it as a palpable fraud on the Niger-Delta, the unilateral and illegal withdrawals from the so-called excess crude oil account without passing through the crucible of legislative prescription as provided under section 80(3) and (4) of the 1999 constitution,” said the union’s facilitator.
The Warri based NDDU urged the National Assembly to expedite action on passing the new Revenue formula bill into law as the current Act 106 of 1992 as amended which was last reviewed in 2002 is illegal and obsolete.

The union also called on all the governors in the region to judiciously decentralize the recently shared proceeds from the excess crude fund to their respective oil commissions, including their local government councils and oil bearing communities for even grass root development and empowerment.