A former Minister of Lands, Housing and Urban Development, Chief Nduese Essien, has come out hard against South-west leaders and has accused them of insincerity in the nation’s quest to restructure.
Speaking with our correspondent, Chief Essien, a former member of the House of Representatives, said leaders of the region only support restructuring when it favours them, but kick against it when it does not.
He made a particular reference to last week’s opposition by the House of Representatives Majority Leader, Femi Gbajabiamila, to a motion, which urged companies operating in oil producing areas to relocate.
Chief Essien noted, “I was surprised to hear the House of Representatives last week, reject a motion, which had asked oil companies to relocate to their areas of operation. The argument by the House Leader, Femi Gbajabiamila, was that, the oil producing areas are unsafe for the oil companies to relocate to.”
He said that probably because he (Femi) is from Lagos state that is why he considers Lagos state as the only safe state. He wondered why a region could be considered unsafe for the location of the IOCs, yet considered safe for oil exploitation and exploration, describing the scenerio as hypocrisy and insincerity.
“Let me take the case of Akwa Ibom state as an example. Since 1989, there has been an agitation that the major companies operating there should relocate. Each time, they told us there were no good roads and infrastructure.
“But as of today, those identified obstacles have been removed. There is no basis for the companies not to relocate to the oil producing states.”
Chief Essien a member of the defunct technical committee on the Niger Delta during the Yar’Adua administration said, “Intransigence of the oil companies over the years to address issues of development in the areas are the causes of restiveness in most communities”
Speaking on what he described as the insincerity of South-west leaders on the issue of restructuring, Essien who was a member of the 2014 National Conference, said: “I begin to wonder whether the South-west is sincere about its agitation for restructuring. The South-west leaders, at every forum, over the years, propagated the restructuring of the Nigerian federation.
“But each time an opportunity comes, they renege on pushing for restructuring. When their son, Chief Olusegun Obasanjo was the President of the country for eight years, the reneged on pushing for restructuring. That is because they were in control of the unstructured federation with its attendant benefits to them.
“As soon as they lost control of the Federal Government, the restructuring jingles came alive throughout the period of President Goodluck Jonathan’s administration. The jingle sounded so loud that a national conference was convened in 2014.
“A good number of delegates supported restructuring. We ended up recommending that the country should be restructured. Luckily for us, after the conference, former Vice President Atiku Abubakar, revived the call.
“Last week, South-west leaders at various fora all spoke in favour of restructuring. But when the opportunity came on the floor of the House of Representatives to commence the process of restructuring, another leader from the area, Gbajabiamila, kicked against it.”