By Dr. Ayakeme Whisky
A video circulating in the social media, purportedly a press conference credited to one Awwal Abdullahi Aliyu of northern extraction is unfortunately another belligerent repeat of the dance of shame of some northerners during the 2014 National Conference. Regrettably, the same claims of the “North being the backbone of Nigeria” are shamelessly repeated by the Awwal Abdullahi Aliyu and his cohorts. It beats our imagination to comprehend the true intentions of these harbingers of falsehood. Is it with an intent to incite their uneducated northern folks to be engaged in a war of attrition through deliberate misinformation or a struggle to continually benefit and/or partake in the free sharing of what the north had never labored for or suffered any form of dislocation or damage?
As an Ijaw who bears the brunt of ecological and environmental hazards, the attitude of these bellicose and pugnacious northerners is indeed sickening. It is either they lack a sense of history or are deliberating attempting to distort history. When a supposed educated person decides to distort the fundamentals of his birth, that is clear evidence of half education. And half education is the worst education ever because you will always claim to know what you don’t know. Where are the historical, economic and scientific evidence to buttress the bogusly phantom claims of the North being responsible for the education of southerners? Where is the evidence to show that it was proceeds from the groundnut pyramids that enabled the oil exploration and exploitation activities?
Before we provide historical evidence to give credence to our averment, it will be necessary to ask some salient questions. First, if the North was so rich to use their resources to train the earliest southern educationists, why were such funds not applied to train northerners such that when in 1956 late Chief Anthony Enahoro’s (a southerner) moved the motion for independence why did the northerners by Alhaji Ahmadu Bello oppose the motion on grounds that the north lacked education and sophistication to manage the bureaucracy of an independent Northern Nigeria? Was there anything precluding the North from sending their children to school in preparation for an independent northern regional government? If the groundnut pyramids gave the north as much monies as claimed, to make it the economic thrust of Nigeria, why did the colonial secretary describe the amalgamation, in part, as releasing “Northern Nigeria from the leading strings of the Treasury”? Perhaps it would be expedient to recall the words of Lord Harcourt, the then Colonial Secretary, in an attempt to justify the proposed unification of the Northern and Southern protectorates before the British Parliament:
Unification of Nigeria demanded both ‘method’ and ‘a man’. The man was to be Lord Lugard and the method was to be the ‘marriage’ of the two entities. We have released Northern Nigeria from the leading strings of the Treasury. The promising and well conducted youth is now on an allowance on his own and is about to effect an alliance with a Southern lady of means. I have issued the special licence and Sir Frederick Lugard will perform the ceremony. May the union be fruithful and the couple constant.
Without doubt the North since the amalgamation has been dependent on the fortunes of the South which the Colonial Secretary described as a “Lady of Means” to service their recurring annual deficits. What therefore confers on the thinking of Aliyu and co that the North is not a parasite? Can there be strength without economic resources? And what have been the contributions of the North to the Federation account from which all the 19 northern governments source their monthly survival from without any iota of gratitude?
In crass ignorance and an attempt to pervert the truth Awwal Abdullahi Aliyu and his fellows fabricators insulted the collective psyche of all oil producing communities in the characteristic manner of the average arrogant Hausa-Fulani by claiming that it was with proceeds of the groundnut pyramids that oil exploration activities commenced in Nigeria. This unfounded claim according to him, accords him an entitlement mentality to ownership of the oil and gas resources in the god endowed soil of the south south people. What a huge joke!
May we ask, were the initial oil exploration activities undertaken by government or private entrepreneurs? Whereas we are aware that the first oil exploration activity in the country was launched by Nigeria Bitumen Co. & British Colonial Petroleum, was it loan or grant the Northern government gave to the these companies from the pyramid proceeds? And at what time did the Nigeria government indicate interest to have a stake in oil prospecting activities, leading to the abrogation of section 140 of the 1963 Constitution of Nigeria and enactment of the Petroleum Decree of 1969 by the government of Gen. Gowon? We wish to make it abundantly clear from the onset that no groundnut money was part of the oil and gas exploration right from 1908 till date. THEREFORE, KNOW THAT OIL AND GAS RESOURCES REMAIN THE EXCLUSIVE ASSET OF THE PEOPLE OF THE SOUTH- SOUTH.
Now hear the truth. Funding oil exploration activities was entirely a private sector driven initiative without contributions from even the colonial administration. It is on record that the initial unsuccessful exploration attempt by Nigeria Bitumen Co. & British Colonial Petroleum In 1908 around Okitipupa area in present Ondo state was succeeded by Shell D’Arcy in 1938, after it was granted exploration licence. In 1955, Mobil Oil Corporation also joined and started exploration operations in Nigeria. Shell-BP (formerly Shell D’Arcy), at the time the sole concessionaire could only find oil in commercial quantity in 1956 at Oloibiri in the Niger Delta after half a century of exploration. So at what point did the people or government of Northern Nigeria invest in the business of oil exploration? Was it as direct oil prospecting companies or shareholders in these strictly private companies?
What we do know as a matter of incontrovertible historical fact, no matter how much truth is being attempted to be bent for petty myopic interest is that the Nigerian state benefited tremendously from royalties, rents and taxes received from oil revenue without spending any dime. It was not until 1973 that the First Participation Agreement (FPA) which witnessed the Federal Government’s acquisition of 35% shares in the oil companies was entered into. By 1974, the Second Participation Agreement saw the Federal Government increase her equity to 55%. The so called intellectual barons from the North should tell us how the North funded oil prospecting operations with their groundnut/cotton proceeds/revenues.
The vodoo claim that “the North funded the exploration for oil in the Niger Delta, using Northern resources, as demented as this claim is, is nothing but an insult on a people whose sacrifices and benevolence have sustained the fragile union called Nigeria. This negative orientation informed on spurious reasoning is an assault on nature, the sensibilities of business enterprise and a curse on collective progress and accommodation. Yes, the oil economy every facet of the country has been feeding from could have precipitated fear-induced reaction in the face of current agitations for a complete restructuring of the country in which the opportunity to share from a common pool would be eradicated. But is insulting the collective psyche of the oil bearing people of Nigeria the solution to allay fears? The simple question is why were these arguments of providential geographical location not factored during the era of true federalism in 1963 when agriculture was the mainstay of the economy?
At the risk of repetition since the unblemished historical facts are continuously being denied, we wish to state that the North did not and has never contributed a dime to the exploration, discovery and exploitation of oil in the Niger Delta. Rather, for nearly forty years now resources scandalously amounting to billions from oil in the Niger Delta is being used to prospect for oil in the Lake Chad Basin, the Benue trough and elsewhere in the North.
The claim of funding oil exploration in the Niger Delta is the height of ingratitude to God first and man, given the scale of environmental hazards the Niger Delta area has to bear to provide the financial succour to Nigerians and Nigeria’s development to its embarrassing exclusion. To develop and feed the North and other regions, the Niger Delta people are exposed to the crude effects of 1.4 billion standard cubic feet (scf) per day of gas flared, which generates 45.8 billion kilowatts of heat. This is outside a totally degraded ecology and terrain that has completely destroyed the traditional trade and occupation of the people. Being denied the luxury of pipe-borne water the people of the Niger Delta only source of drinking water remains polluted. Giving all these sacrifices for according Nigeria the reputation of a regional power, it is rude, insensitive, bigotry and callous for any Northerner make unfounded and grossly misleading utterances. Such will no longer be acceptable to the people of the south-south particularly the Ijaw ethnic nationality.
We wish to state unequivocally that the present level of impoverishment experienced by the Ijaws, and other South-South states is on account of carrying the burdens of the parasitic North. Until these self styled apostles of northern irredentism prove the contrary in a convincing manner, let it be known to them that THE NORTH REMAINS A PARASITE ON THE RESOURCES OF THE IJAW PEOPLE AND OTHER SOUTH SOUTHERNERS. Their well known characteristic even before the amalgamation.
Indeed, with a total landmass of only 94,942sq.km. and about 30,000,000 people, the South-South states which generated about US$154,186,189,948 between 2010 and 2012 only would have had one of the highest GDP per capita in the world like Norway, Monaco, Luxemburg and Liechtenstein. The people of the south-south deserve commendation and not insults from any parasitic Northerner.
This is the kind of arrogance breeded by hegemonic feelings of superiority that is at the centre of the crisis of trust, unity and cohension in this country. It is the reason why all the major ethnic nationalities in the south are serving notice of exiting from the forced federation called Nigeria. Where beneficiaries of other people’s magnanimity and benevolence make demands with effrontery and disrespect it does not only allow them to deny them further help but lead to total extrication and collapse of relationship. What has been our reward as a people in this forced union called Nigeria since 1914 that some never-do-well people will continually insult our sensibility because they pride themselves with some phantom crudely manipulated census figures.
The Ijaw people and indeed the progressive south south people, conscious of our desire to preserve and enjoy peacefully our God endowed resources for our collective improvement and wellbeing, but now aware that inequity, injustice, nepotism, bigotry, despotism, tyrannical selective repression and unfairness define our union as a country, will rather seek a peaceful exit route. Hence we endorse the recent notice for self determination served on the Nigeria nation by the leadership of the Ijaw National Congress. Those who are obssessed with the name Nigeria can continue to live in their dream country and allow others who are seeking to determine their destiny in their own hands the freedom to do so.
This nonsense MUST STOP.