LAUNCHING THE 50 PER CENT CLUB
“In the end it will not matter whether we fought with flails or reeds. It will matter to us greatly on which side we fought.”
GK Chesterton, 1874-1936, English, author and journalist.
Chesterton was alive when the Second World War started; he did not live long enough to see the end of it. A “war” has started in Nigeria. Some call it the struggle for restructuring; others call it battle for true federalism. I call it “War for 50 Per Cent Derivation” and I have started a movement to wage that “war”. At nearly 74, I might not live long enough to see our side winning. But well-meaning and patriotic citizens of the resource rich and productive states, who vigorously support the effort, will be victorious – just as the British savored victory over the Nazis in 1945. But, as Will Rogers, American humorist had warned us, “Right might win; but it would win sooner if it had a few more….people on its side.” Let nobody be fooled the fight for justice in Nigeria will not be an easy one. The enemies of progress are still very much around and powerful and influential. That is the major reason you should be thinking of joining the 50 PER CENT CLUB.
Forgive me; this article had been deliberately started in the middle as you will soon discover. So, let us return to the beginning.
Unless an unusual event occurs, Wednesday, April 25, 2018, would have passed into Nigerian history as the day several hundred Nigerian gathered together at the Nigerian Institute of International Affairs, NIIA, not merely to launch the revised version of ATTAH ON RESOURCE CONTROL, but to pay tribute to the three great sons of the Niger Delta and Nigeria – late Alamesiegha, Chief James Ibori and Obong Victor Attah. Attah incidentally justly wears the title of Father of Modern Akwa Ibom State because he led the struggle for the creation of that state. On the dat Akwa Ibom State creation was announced, it was Obong Attah that Buhari called, through General Aliyu Gusau to ask “Do you still want your state created?” General Gusau is still alive as my witness. So you can’t be more fatherly than that. That was not all; it was Attah’s quiet suggestion to Abacha about the need to create another state in the South South zone that resulted in Bayelsa State afterwards. When this old man (me) dies Nigeria will lose a “library”. This is one “rolling stone” which gathers a lot of stuff about Nigeria.
Irrespective of what would have transpired on April 25, 2018, permit me to confess to a hidden agenda. I honestly hope my Oga, Mentor, adniser and friend – Obong Attah — will forgive me for this. As far back as 2004 when I joined him in a minor role in the launching of the book, I had always thought that the thirteen per cent was only a stop along the way to full justice – which is fifty per cent derivation. I had prayed long and hard for an opportunity for all Nigerians, especially those in the mineral producing states to revisit the matter and to return Nigeria to the agreements signed by our Founding fathers when negotiating independence from the military. The heroes of thirteen per cent who paid terrible prices were fighting alone against the real enemies of Nigeria. Let me proceed to name them one by one and to read the charges against them because some are still hanging around to continue their assault on our sovereignty.
In order of appearance on the national stage to ruin our republic, as Heads of State or Presidents, were (are) Ironsi, Gowon, Mohammed, Obasanjo, Shagari, Buhari, Babangida, Abacha, Abubakar, Obasanjo (again), Yar’Adua, Jonathan and Buhari again. When future historians who would be less timid than those of today start to write the history of Nigeria from 1967 till today, it would deliver a startling indictment on all these people who used force to deprive the revenue producing areas of Nigeria of the just rewards of their good fortune or labor only to deliver the LOOT to the Federal Government for the monumental barefaced robbery we now read about now.
In that regard, Olusegun Obasanjo should be regarded as the Public Enemy Number 1. He had served longest at the top while the rape of revenue producing areas was going on and is still a national menace today because he is dead set against fifty per cent derivation. It is important to set the record straight at this point because the man has become the godfather of a new political association. Those who might be lured into joining that body should remember that Obasanjo not only fought against thirteen per cent derivation, but made sure that the three governors who fought for it were severely punished. A vote for any political organization supported by Obasanjo might result in the roll back of the gains of RESOURCE CONTROL. Get a copy of ATTAH ON RESOURCE CONTROL and read about Obasanjo’s evil hostility to what the oil-producing states are getting now.
On account of the historical precedent, I quietly resolved when Obong Attah agreed to publishing a revised edition of the book that it should serve an additional purpose to reminding readers of the immense benefits generations of people will enjoy from the efforts of the three courageous men. It should also serve as a spring board for advancing the demand to fifty per cent derivation with one difference in the basic strategic approach.
First, the heroes of thirteen per cent are a lot older than when they fought from 1999 to 2004; and one has passed on before the recognition of his efforts came. Even to consolidate the gains of their efforts would require that the torch be passed to a new generation of fighters for social justice. Fortunately, the enemies of true federalism – meaning fifty per cent – listed above are also moving closer to the graveyards. The contest between the good and the evil side will henceforth take place between a new set of combatants. Those for fifty per cent should therefore not be intimidated by the old soldiers.
Second, based on the principle of safety in numbers, there is now a need to mobilize millions for the next push. As Marshall Turene, 1611-1675, had observed “God is always on the side of the big battalions.” The people of the productive states now must forge a strong alliance to ensure that we build and strengthen the big battalions needed to ensure that when the national dialogue with regard to restructuring begins fifty per cent derivation will be the major demand.
Third, our representatives should be prepared to negotiate with the minimum of demands. Concessions can be made on so many other things because we must always remember that the goal is not dismemberment of Nigeria. Negotiation always implies give and take. As Baba Mandela had told us “If you don’t intend having a compromise, you don’t negotiate at all.”
Fourth, we must all – Northerners and Southerners alike — not forget that the existing revenue allocation formula was never negotiated. They were imposed on us by the self-centred and unpatriotic military governments which from the list above were mostly Northerners. They, not us, tore up the original basis for the emergence of the Federal Republic of Nigeria – at gun point. They forcefully seized our national wealth and proceeded to carve for themselves and a few Southern collaborators the lion’s share.
Obasanjo, the most evil of them all, left in 1978 after imposing a so-called Federal Constitution in which the entrenched injustices were left intact. Oil producing states were entitled to only one per cent. That to this dreadful leader was fair allocation. The current 1999 Constitution was bequeathed to us by General Abubakar who merely continued with the tradition of “monkey-work-baboon-chop”. Until our heroes got us a fairer deal, Kano and Kaduna, among Northern states collected more oil revenue than Bayelsa. Yet a few months ago, Bayelsa state gave Obasanjo their chief antagonist a “royal reception”. That leads us to the next item.
Fifth, and that is why THE FIFTY PER CENT CLUB must be formed. We can no longer have leaders of the South who fraternize with the likes of Obasaanjo – a man who never wished the people well. For too long weak-kneed leaders have embraced our adversaries and have spoken for us. Henceforth, we should be speaking for ourselves….
GUESS WHO IS TALKING?
“Nigeria is an oil producing country, therefore they should sit and do nothing and get housing, healthcare, education free.” That was President Buhari speaking in London about “a lot of” of Nigerian youth whose only offence was that they are not the President’s son, Yusuf, who in his idleness almost killed himself while recklessly riding a motorbike reportedly costing $314,000 (N114.6 million) and whose free medical treatment, undisclosed to Fellow Nigerian sufferers, must have cost us several millions of naira as well. If Buhari believes what he cynically and callously said in London, he should have asked his son to go and treat himself.
Each time the man talks, he reveals another aspect of his character hitherto unknown to us which invariably scare the hell out of us. He has just underlined hypocrisy as one of his attributes.