One-time military administrator of Akwa Ibom and chairman of Pan-Niger Delta Forum (PANDEF) Air Commodore Idongesit Nkanga (rtd) has warned against further delay in restructuring the country, saying that Nigeria may be heading to self destruction.
Also, he has told the people of the Niger Delta that they could only reclaim their ‘stolen wealth from the Nigerian federation through restructuring of the nation.
Nkanga made the remarks during the inauguration of Executive Officers of Host Communities of Nigeria Oil and Gas (HOSTCOM), Akwa Ibom Chapter held in Uyo, weekend.
Nkanga, who was the special guest of honour, said that restructuring would engender equality and justice, stressing that it would help reclaim the rights of the Niger Delta people warning that, “if we fail to restructure the country now the country will restructure itself.”
“No matter the argument, no matter where we take it to, this country must be restructured. Our children cannot be second class citizens in this country. Everyone must have equal opportunity. We will not stop until we get our right.
“They will tell you they have given us 13 percent derivation but when our founding fathers started, they forget that they started with 50 percent, now it has come down”.
Nkanga lamented the lack of infrastructural development in the region, despite the huge resources generated from its oil.
He also decried the lack of an oil depot in Akwa Ibom, despite the fact that it is the largest producer of oil in the country, stressing that it is causing untold hardship on the people of the state.
Speaking earlier, the HOSTCOM national chairman, Prof Mike Emuh, in his welcome address, commended Governor Udom Emmanuel for his efforts towards industrialisation of Akwa Ibom state and for ensuring that the peaceful nature of the state is sustained.
Prof Emuh explained that HOSTCOM was established to protect the interest of all the oil and gas producing areas in Nigeria, and expressed satisfaction with the efforts the Buhari-led administration has made to recover oil blocs from those handling them currently and return them to the rightful owners.
“The oil blocs are the property of the Niger Delta and should be returned to them. For the past 25 years, this is the only president that is listening to the oil producing communities.”
He also disclosed that the group was working assiduously with the federal government towards the establishment of a modular refinery in Akwa Ibom and reiterated the need for the governors of the Niger Delta region to diversify their economies away from oil.
In his goodwill address, the chairman of the occasion and paramount ruler of Itu, His Royal Highness, Edidem Edem Akpan, applauded the initiative, and charged the group to be relentless towards the realisation of its objectives.
Edidem said the oil producing areas have suffered years of neglect and marginalisation, noting that the agitations by HOSTCOM was a step in the right direction as it will further add fillip to the agitations to reposition the Niger Delta.
He recalled that several presentations had been made by the royal fathers to the federal government in the past about the plight of the people in the region but that those efforts have obviously yielded nothing positive.
He pointed out the region is in a pathetic state and its people are suffering because those charged with the responsibility of managing the country’s oil resources are mismanaging it, and therefore called for a change in the status quo.