The Chairman, Senate Committee on Army, who is also representing the Borno South Senatorial District, Senator Ali Ndume has dismissed the agitations by some groups for Nigeria to break up, saying that the country is better as united entity.
The Senator also said that whatever grievances that people have can be solved within the constitutional framework that presently exist and if there is need for reforms it can also be addressed amicably without any recourse to violence or threats.
Speaking in a recent interview with Punch, Ndume noted that the cry of marginalization by the South East was unnecessary because they do not contribute much to country’s wealth and are inconsequential economically.
He noted that 90 percent of Nigeria’s revenue comes from the South-South, yet that region has not been crying about marginalization or about being cheated. He added that the only demand that the South-South is making is for the oil derivation that accrues to them be reviewed upward from 13 percent.
“When you talk about oil, 90 per cent of the resources we depend on to survive in Nigeria is coming from the South-South geopolitical zone, yet the people there are not talking about dividing the country. They are also not worried about who is spending the money realised from oil sales.”
“In the South-East, it is only Abia State that has an oil producing area. So, where did you get that idea that the Igbo are being cheated or marginalized,” he queried adding that only the South-South have a reason to cry about marginalization or being cheated.
The senator was speaking in the context of the claim by some leaders and groups in the South East that the region has been marginalized politically and economically, especially since the end of the civil war.
Some of the evidences of the marginalization according to proponents of the marginalization theory is the refusal of the Federal government to build the second Niger Bridge and the lack of a sea port to allow for free movement of people and goods in and out of the South East. They are also frustrated that no Igbo man has been elected Nigeria’s President.
This sentiment is what gave birth to secession groups like MASSOB and Indigenous People of Biafra who are agitating for an independent state for the Igbos called Biafra. Another ground for their agitations is that the north is liability on the other parts of the country, hence their insistence on a united Nigeria.
But Senator Ndume says such sentiment is unfounded and baseless, adding that the Northern Nigerian is blessed with tremendous amount of natural resources and even large deposits of oil and gas. According to him crude oil has been found in Sokoto, but what is left is for exploration activities to commence.
He also pointed to the presence of oil and gas in Borno, Bauchi as well as the Chad and Gongola basins adding that very soon, some Northern states will be counted as part of the oil producing states. The senator also disclosed that Zamfara has a large deposit of gold.
The Senator who says he feels disgusted by the idea that the north is a liability on Nigeria, opined that while the Southerners freely move up north to get juicy government jobs, the same cannot be said of the northerners who only go to the south to provide services that are needed.