The leader of the Pan Niger Delta Forum and elder statesman, Chief Edwin Clark, has criticised the exclusion of Niger Delta region from the infrastructural projects to be built with the $308 million loot of a former military leader, General Sanni Abacha.
He, therefore, called on President Muhammadu Buhari to include the region as one of the beneficiaries of the loot, arguing that the money stolen by Abacha were funds derived from oil exploration in the Niger Delta region.
He stated this in a protest statement issued from London on Thursday, saying that, “the continued neglect of the region by the Buhari’s administration is appalling.
The statement read in part, “I congratulate Buhari on the recovery of another Abacha loot to the tune of $308 million. I, however, observe that again, the Niger Delta region is left out in the infrastructural development in the country both in the 2020 budget of the federal government and in the distribution of the recovered Abacha loot for infrastructural development.
“I notice that the only road projects to benefit from the recent Abacha loot are the Lagos-Ibadan Expressway (Western Region), the Abuja–Kano Road (Northern Region) and the 2nd Niger Bridge (Eastern Region) and which is merely meant for the eastern part of the country, even though it starts from Asaba in Delta State.
“This, indeed, is a demonstration of the Federal Government’s repeated and deliberate neglect of the Niger Delta region, even though the Abacha loot came substantially from the Region.
“It must be admitted that the revenue that accrued to the Federal Government, which was deposited in the Central Bank of Nigeria, from where Abacha looted them is the product of oil and gas revenue derived from the oil and gas fields/industries in the Niger Delta region.
“But the Federal Government, has again, deliberately abandoned the East-West Road which is the most important economic road in Nigeria, which was started over 10 years ago, even when the collapsed part of the road has been left to the State Governments of the Region to repair, particularly the recent total collapse of the part from Benin in Edo State to Warri in Delta State.
“The continued ‘deliberate’ neglect and injustice against the people of the Niger Delta should stop, the Federal Government should include the completion of the East-West Road as one of the projects to be embarked upon with the Abacha loot.
“The question one asks oneself is, is the Niger Delta not part of Nigeria? It is indeed most offensive and insulting to the people of the region when in response to our complaints and agitations, some armchair politicians who were never voted for, by the people of Nigeria, would shamelessly reply that the establishment of the Niger Delta Development Commission and the Presidential Amnesty Programme were generously given to us, and yet we complain.
“This marginalisation, oppression, injustice and neglect of the Niger Delta Region, will not be allowed to continue forever, the people of the region demand that the Federal Government should include the completion of the East-West Road as one of the major infrastructural projects to be developed using the Abacha loot.
“Finally, I once again, congratulate President Muhammadu Buhari on the most recent recovery of the Abacha loot, and to also add that most Nigerians were not satisfied with similar Abacha loot recovered from Geneva as to how it was expended. It is, therefore, very gratifying that this particular loot is being tied to road infrastructural development in the country. The Niger Delta region should not be left out please.”