South-South chiefs, elders and opinion leaders have decried the marginalisation of the region by the President Muhammadu Buhari-led administration. The leaders said that it was heartbreaking that about 83 per cent of oil blocs in the country were in the hands of northerners while only insignificant number of Niger Deltans had access to oil blocs.
In a meeting yesterday in Port Harcourt, they demanded the cancellation and redistribution of marginal oil fields to reflect Federal Character. In a five-page statement signed by the group’s grand patron, His Royal Highness, Essien Udo; National Publicity Secretary, Constance Meju and the National Chairman, Omubo Atuboinoma Harry, the group noted that happenings around the country were contrary to claims by the President that his government has done well.
The group said: “For us in the Niger Delta, these past five years have been years of continuous dislodgement, harassment and depression.
“We watch with dismay as the wealth from our land is distributed nationwide without due regard to us, under some clumsy national arrangements that favour the North. Projects that should by their nature be domiciled in the Niger Delta region are daily being pushed to Katsina and Lagos.”
The group further lamented that the recently released Nigeria National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC) top management appointments depict conversion of the country’s most crucial national asset into a regional entity.
They said the move was a gross violation of existing laws. “Under the mandate of the Character Commission and in line with the Nigerian Constitution, appointments into federal offices are supposed to reflect all the regions but the Buhari government has consistently disregarded this,” they said.
They regretted that the NNPC appointments skewed all critical decision making positions to the North, leaving only very few positions to the Southwest and South-South, and none for the Southeast.
“It is sad that of the 16 newly appointed top NNPC management staff, 11 critical positions went to the North, three to the Southwest and only two insignificant positions came to the South-South.
They maintained that the Niger Delta region deserves more top positions following its contributions to national wealth.The group, therefore, demanded the revocation of the NNPC management structure and its rearrangement to reflect national spread.
The group also pointed out that the security leadership of the country was solely in the hands of northern Muslims and therefore called for total overhauling of the security structure of the nation.