By Okon Bassey and Adedayo Akinwale
Uyo and Abuja — A group, Akwa Ibom State Leaders Vanguard, thursday warned against attempts to reintroduce the already settled issue of the onshore-offshore dichotomy, warning that it will spell doom for the country.
The group spoke against the backdrop of the report submitted last week to the national chairman of the All Progressives Congress (APC), Chief John Odigie-Oyegun, by the governor of Kaduna State, Nasir el-Rufai, who chaired the party’s Committee on True Federalism and Restructuring.
The report of the APC committee had made far-reaching recommendations, including allowing states of the federation to have control over the onshore minerals, mining, oil fields and gas resources in their states, but not offshore resources.
The committee also recommended that the existing revenue sharing formula be tinkered with to limit the application of the derivation principle to only oil resources domiciled onshore.
But at a press conference in Uyo, the Akwa Ibom State capital, the group said: “Regrettably, the party’s (APC) position on resource control clearly prognosticates an irredeemable disaster for Nigeria.”
A spokesman for the group, Senator Anietie Okon, cautioned that with the attempt to revisit the issue of resource control, Nigeria was at the threshold of history that could make or mar her as a country.
“We are saying no to the illegal reintroduction of a settled matter on the onshore-offshore dichotomy. It is an expensive joke taken too far. Nigeria might not survive this. Our patience has been stretched to its elastic limit.
“It is inconceivable that any person or group of persons with an iota of knowledge of our nationhood will attempt to create more crisis in an already volatile Niger Delta region that has endured most of the ills of the contraption fraudulently referred to as a federal system finagled on Nigeria,” Okon said.
He called on the APC leadership in Akwa Ibom State to stand up and speak out at “this critical moment in the nation’s history”, especially as the reintroduction of the onshore-offshore dichotomy will affect the people of the state.
According to him, “It will be interesting to know where they stand on this all important matter. They cannot sit on the fence. It is now imperative for them to show clearly on which side of the divide they stand.
“It is frightening that the chieftains of the party in the South-south are dangerously quiet over this calculated attempt to subtly reintroduce through the backdoor the vexed onshore-offshore dichotomy that has long been settled in Nigeria.
“For the benefit of doubt, we want to state explicitly and unambiguously our concerns and consternation about the ambivalent and duplicitous position of the APC as it is clear to every discerning mind that the APC is a party in disarray.
“For instance, in his new year speech, President Muhammadu Buhari clearly considered restructuring an anathema that should not be contemplated.
“Juxtaposing that with the position of the APC, as a party represented by the el-Rufai committee, that on the face value seemingly supports restructuring, it is dangerous to say the least for Nigeria.
“It brings to the fore the unlimited confusion, the hallmark of the APC, that our dear country has been subjected to in the past three years.”
He maintained that the “defective and deceitful promises” of the APC had exemplified the height of its dishonestly, and the committee’s report is an attempt to pull the wool over the eyes of Nigerians.
“For every discerning mind, the president is averse to restructuring Nigeria, although other factions of the party seem favorably disposed to tinted restructuring; while waiting for the APC to come to terms with the reality regarding true federalism,” he said.
Akwa Ibom was at the vanguard of the fight under the Olusegun Obasanjo administration to ensure that littoral oil producing states in the Niger Delta became beneficiaries of the derivation principle.
Given that the bulk, if not all, of the oil and gas mineral resources produced in Akwa Ibom are offshore, it stands to lose the most should the recommendations of the APC committee become a reality.
Other littoral oil producing states include Rivers, Bayelsa, Delta and Lagos.