The abrogation of onshore/offshore dichotomy in the calculation of derivation funds for littoral states should be left for now until the injustices done to the oil producing communities by oil companies over several decades are redressed, Bauchi State Governor Malam Isa Yuguda said in Abuja yesterday.
He spoke at Media Trust Limited's corporate head office, where he paid a visit. Disagreeing with a view canvassed recently by his Kano State counterpart Alhaji Rabi'u Kwankwaso, Yuguda said about the onshore/offshore dichotomy, "We should appreciate one thing. The communities in the South South have been traumatized and bastardized by the Federal Government of Nigeria by allowing the oil majors to impoverish them, to waste their land, waste their terrain and pollute the environment. Billions have to be sunk today to restore them back to where they were 40 years ago."
He added, "I recall receiving a book written on Nigeria by a German showing Sir Abubakar Tafawa Balewa on a boat going to the first oil well in Oloibiri. Ever since then, they have been bastardizing that environment. Today if you go to Bayelsa or Akwa Ibom or Rivers or Delta, there are millions that are very poor. They are also living the same life that the northerners are living because there is no redistribution of money. Some have zero purchasing power. Many live in shanties.
"So, much as you would want to look into that aspect that has to do with the decision of the National Assembly...we had members of the National Assembly from the North who felt it is better that the littoral states should take derivation to the off shore. And we elected them to represent us, so we should ask them what happened. But as far as I am concerned, I want the oil producing areas to be fixed. Let the federal and state governments improve the standard of living of those human beings that are suffering and are being exploited. The federal government and the oil majors neglected them, only their community leaders and some few politicians have been feeding fat on the wealth whether on or off shore.
"The injustice started since the creation of Nigeria. When the white man came to Northern Nigeria, who was financing government, both at the local and federal level? At least in Northern Nigeria, it was the Jangali [i.e. cattle tax]. This same Fulani man that is rearing his cattle, the white man respected him as he was the only person that was taxed because he had the resources to pay and which was why then they had cattle routes mapped from Maiduguri up to Oturkpo. Nobody dared to farm on their route and they had grazing reserves reserved for them. They had places where their animals were sprayed with chemicals so that they don't catch rinderpest. They were highly respected by the white man, but eventually the white man went into buying cotton, groundnut and tin mining on the Plateau, then cocoa in the west and coal in the East.
"But what has been the fate of the Fulani man today? The people in the oil producing states, if they are unlucky, if their environment is not fixed, their lives would be like the life of the nomadic Fulani man. He will not have access to schools, health care, drinking water or electricity. He is chased from one place to the other, stoned and matcheted in the name of farmers/pastoralists' clash, because the Fulani are no longer relevant. We don't want the people of the South South to suffer what the Fulani are suffering now."
Malam Isa Yuguda also said "As far as I am concerned, the current arrangement should stay for some time but let there be justice. The Supreme Court has already passed a judgment on the boundary of the littoral states which is the water mark and the water mark is where the water recedes in the dry season. And they have also defined the continental shelf. That is why at the time they passed the decision Akwa Ibom was getting the same thing as Bauchi. The Supreme Court has a ruling; it was only an act of the National Assembly that reversed that. Since my people [the Fulani] have suffered the fate of financing Nigeria, I don't want people who have been producing oil in the coastal areas to suffer the same fate. Let there be justice."
The governor was received by Media Trust Limited's managing director/chief operating officer Alhaji Isiaq Ajibola and the editor in chief, Malam Mannir Dan Ali.