Former President Olusegun Obasanjo yesterday, responded to accusations of hatred against the people of Niger Delta region levelled against him by the leader of the Pan Niger Delta Forum and chairman of the Board of Trustees, Ijaw National Congress (INC), Chief Edwin Clark.
Obasanjo in his reply to the letter earlier written to him by Clark, told the elder statesman that he had never for once, shown any anger or distraught with the Niger Delta region, but was making himself clearer from the points of the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria.
The former president said he chose to respond to Chief Clark’s accusations in the interest of, “general education of all, as well as to clear some misconceptions and misperception” from the understanding of the elder statesman.
LEADERSHIP recalled that Clark had last Wednesday, through an open letter, berated Obasanjo over what he called a disappointing display of hatred against the people of the oil-producing states in Nigeria.
Clark premised his accusation on the ground that Obasanjo openly interjected the INC’s national secretary, Ebipamowei Wodu during a peace and security parley held in Abuja, the Federal Capital Territory (FCT).
But in his response to Clark’s accusations, titled: “My Response To The Open Letter By Clark”, Obasanjo declared that he had never for once “shown any anger, distraught with Niger Delta region nor any part of Nigeria”.
The former president further justified his interjection of Wodu at the event by saying that he only did so to correct a statement being made in error at the event.
“But if raising my voice, stamping the desk or tapping is unpleasant to anyone, I tender an unreserved apology. If I interjected to either complete a statement or to correct a statement being made that I believe was not the true situation, I have no apology for that. Truth must be stated and upheld no matter how bitter it may be,” he said.
Noting that Clark’s letter contained several important points which he “conveniently left out,” un-discussed, Obasanjo declared that he understood and empathized with the frustrations of the elder statesman, stressing however, that it becomes necessary for Clark to be guarded and measured in the expressions of such frustrations, “lest we throw away the baby with the dirty birth water.”
“Some of the languages you have deployed to describe me in your letter are offensive, uncouth and I totally and completely rejected them, I am not inconsistent, hypocritical, un-statesman nor am I anybody’s lackey.”
“You use your own yardstick to judge others. I hope you think and adjust. Negotiation achieves better results than dictation. Revolution for sea-change may rarely happen and then we may continue to languish in frustration and regret with dire judgment in posterity,” he said.
Obasanjo however, went down memory lane to justify some of the actions taken by his administration between 1999 and 2007 to express his love for the people of the oil producing region of Nigeria.
“On resumption of office as President of Nigeria in 1999, the first meeting I held out of Abuja was a meeting on the Niger Delta Region. Without being prompted, I decided the 13 per cent derivation that the new Constitution granted to oil-producing areas should be paid. If you have evidence of a legal action that forced me to implement it, please produce for me to see or publish it.
“At the meeting of December 14, 2021 although the recommendation was to go from 13 per cent to 17 per cent to oil-producing areas, Dr. Igali made the case for 18 per cent and we as CGN went up to not less than 18 per cent. Niger Delta Development Commission, NDDC, bill was my initiative for contribution to be made by state governments, oil companies and federal government.
“The states lobbied the National Assembly to exclude them. They were excluded and what was passed became the law eventually and I implemented it.
“You seemed to know little to nothing on LNG generally including efforts made to turn Bonny LNG from three trains to seven trains and surely you are not updated on Brass LNG and I will plead with you to be better admitted on it all.
“You use your own yardstick to judge others. I fear God and I respect those who respect themselves and I hope it is about time you change from a tribesman to a statesman of character. That is what Nigeria and indeed the region you profess to love demand of you at this stage.
“I believe one lesson that we all must appreciate that we have all learned in the last sixty-one years of our independence is that we all need to be civil to ourselves and occasionally put ourselves in the position of others.
“Bad language does not show prudence, wisdom and maturity. I hope you will think and adjust. Negotiation achieves better results than dictation. I believe that we should be reformists rather than being pedantic with a leave-it or take-it attitude,” he said.
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