By Patrick Andrew
Elder statesman, Chief Edwin Clark, yesterday at the National Conference disassociated the South South geo-political region from the threat by a group from the Niger Delta to secede from the Federal Republic of Nigeria should the National Conference fails to accede to its agitation for 100 percent resource control.
A group, the Niger Delta Self Determination Movement (NSDSM), had through some members of the geo-political zone circulated a detailed document to other delegates adducing reasons and agitating for 100 percent resource control insisting that it has a precedence that should not be swept under the carpet.
In the said document, the group had condemned the 1999 amended constitution asserting that the military was manipulated by northern Nigeria to deliberately craft a constitution “with the intent and purpose of expropriating our lands and mineral resources for the benefit of the north, particularly, through the inclusion of and continuous invocation of section 44 (3).”
Further, the group, which claimed that it was reacting to a similar position by the Northern delegates, in the document, alleged that the rejection of the minority report submitted by Ms Annkio Briggs, a member of the committee on power Devolution, which report, they argued was, conspiratorially meant to undermine the Niger Delta interest.”
Peoples Daily recalls that Ms Briggs’ minority report was rejected by the conference when the Committee on the Devolution of Power submitted its recommendation. The chairman had said there was no provision for minority report, hence could not accept it.
In its conclusion, the agitators demanded among others that: “A hundred percent ownership and control rights for communities or states as the case may be, should own and control their resources, and from the proceeds, pay a percentage through the regions to the Federal Government. Such states territory includes the entire continental shelf. Consequently section 44 (3) of the 1999 constitution should be expunged from the 1999 constitution.
“That a new peoples’ constitution should be drafted collectively by the ethnic nationalities to replace the current constitution … because…we were not consulted during the making of that compendium of decrees now called constitution which sequestrated our lands and resources without our permission,” and concluded that “on hundred percent resource ownership we stand or self determination shall be our only option,” he said.
However, Chief Clark, who was evidently piqued by the content of the document, dismissed it stressing that it is not representative of the collective decision of the Niger Delta and, therefore, should not be taken holistically as emanating from the South South zone.
Going back to memory lane, Chief Clark recalled the National conference held in 1961 in which the issue of the indivisibility of Nigeria was resolved, adding that six reports were produced represented in same number of colours and included red, blue, white, pink, yellow and black in arriving at the final resolution.
He said the people of Niger Delta, through their delegates led by late Anthony Enahoro, overwhelmingly voted in favour of one Nigeria and, therefore, would have nothing to do with any agitation for the disintegration of Nigeria and thus dismissed any threat to the corporate existence of Nigeria by any group.
Though the chairman of the conference, retired Justice Idris Legbo Kutigi, said the conference secretariat was not in possession of the document, many who had received same simply chose to ignore the matter especially after Chief Clark’s position on it.
Also Kutigi thereafter proceeded as if nothing had occurred.