President Muhammadu Buhari has accused those calling for the restructuring of the country’s governance system of pursuing their own personal interests.
Buhari made this comment yesterday when he played host to a delegation of Urhobo traditional rulers, including executive members of the Urhobo Progress Union, UPU, and Urhobo members in the All Progressives Congress, APC, who paid him a courtesy visit at the Presidential Villa, Abuja.
The president’s response followed a request by the Urhobo delegation urging him not to jettison the need for restructuring in its entirety.
He said, “You mentioned something which is topical these days – the question of restructuring Nigeria, and every person or every group asking for restructuring, they have got their own agenda and I hope it can be accommodated by the constitution we are currently running on.
“I assure you that you are not forgotten and I’m pleased you appreciate the appointments by this administration of some citizens of your kingdoms.”
On the land tussle between the military and Uwvie community in Effurun, Delta State, Buhari said steps would be taken to unearth those behind the alleged sale of land donated to the military.
LEADERSHIP recalls that the disputed land was acquired in 1975 by the Nigerian Army from the then Midwestern State government for the construction of the present-day Effurun Barracks.
Although the Land Use Act, which vests all land in the government which in turn holds such land in trust for the people, had not yet been promulgated at the time of acquisition, there were speculations that no compensation was paid to the families who owned the land as required by the law.
It was also gathered that after the construction of the barracks in 1979, a large portion of the land, which was left unused for many years, was later sold to private individuals, a development that led to the agitations.
Responding to a request for the presidency to address oil spillage in the region, Buhari indirectly took a swipe on the delegation, saying that most times they contribute to the degradation of their community while government take the bashing for the lapses.
Buhari said, “I plead with you leaders of these communities that your resources have been sustaining this country throughout these years for restraint, so that the cooperation you gave to the previous administrations will be extended to this administration so that the country can realise the resources which are mainly under your seat.
“Some of your citizens there are responsible, and they hurt more of your people. You know as much as I do that it is the people that suffer from oil pollution, like those engaged in fishing. If the water is polluted, it is the majority of the people that will suffer. Those making noise in the media because they somehow have access and because they are outside the country, but those of us who are stuck here, we are left to convince the people to show respect.”
The president general of UPU, Olorogun Moses Taiga, told the president that part of the conditions which will guarantee him a second term in office was to appoint an Urhobo son or daughter as substantive minister in the current administration.
Olorogun Taiga also requested the presidency to look into issues bedeviling the region, especially the resuscitation of Sapele port, boundary crisis between the Urhobos and Edo communities, federal presence like the establishment of gas plants, adequate funding of Federal University of Petroleum Resources and the neglect by oil companies who daily exploit the land without commensurate compensation.
The UPU president said, “We wish to commend the initiative by the ruling All Progressives Congress, APC, to give serious thought to restructuring our country and going as far as setting up a committee under a serving governor to take a critical look at it and make recommendations on the way forward.
“We humbly request Mr. President to give kind consideration to appointing an Urhobo son or daughter as a Minister in this administration. We will be grateful if this request is kindly granted.
“The Sapele port which was once a bustling economic hub in the old Midwestern region has unfortunately gone comatose for a long time. It is presently used as a naval facility with only a small part of it serving the navy’s needs.
“We therefore request the federal government to reactivate and make the port functional. This will help to decongest the Lagos ports and boost the economy of Delta and neighbouring states”.
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