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Niger Deltans Are To Blame Over Northern Dominance Of Oil Blocks  – Ambassador Sam Edem


Against the background of alleged dominance of oil blocks in the Niger Delta Region by powerful figures of northern extraction, a former Nigerian  Ambassador, Sam Edem, has dismissed it as lame talk and an unnecessary excuse for not being key players in the industry.
  Ambassador Edem, a fellow of the National Defence College and former Chairman of the Niger Delta Development Commission (NDDC) says indigenes of the Niger Delta Region, Governors and stakeholders have not shown sufficient business efforts to own oil blocks or dominate their God-given wealth.
In an exclusive interview with Crystal Express, the renowned strategist and diplomat categorically opined that Niger Deltans should not lament as to whether outsiders are owning or dominating oil blocks in the region, but should rather blame themselves for their lukewarm attitude, lack of cooperation and oneness of purpose to pursue common agenda for the region and the people.
“When you go to school, you see people have 1st class, 2nd class and 3rd class; they are all results of hard work at different levels. It is only in the church that you go and stretch out your hands for communion and get it free. In life you have to fight for everything you need’, the elder statesman stated.
Speaking more bluntly, he stated, “How much have our people fought to get oil wells in the Niger Delta? How much efforts have they made to get oil wells? I am a very detribalized Nigerian and I don’t believe in sensationalism. I strongly believe that if you make the right contacts and moves, you get what you desire.
 “You cannot fold your hands and expect miracles. Since the biblical days thousands of years ago when manna dropped for the children of Israel, it never dropped again. You have to fight and work for your manna before you get it. Niger Deltans must fight for what they need.”
On the recent revocation of oil licences, the envoy said the cancellation was not discriminatory but done across board. He thundered, “The media should never be biased; he (President) did not revoke oil wells given to the people of the Niger Delta but did so across board. I saw the list. It was across broad and that opens a new chapter for our people to continue striving for it.
“Have the Governors of the Niger Delta States ever sat down to conceive a master plan to benefit from the oil and gas sector in the region?  Do you know the efforts Akwa Ibom has made to bring Mobil Headquarters to the state? I have told you that there is no free lunch anywhere. This is global politics and global economy, there is no free lunch. God has given us the brain, energy to solve our problems and cannot come physically to assist us.”
He gave an insight into the processes which led to the resolution of the militancy in the region and maintained that he was the architect of the amnesty programme.
 “When I got to the NDDC, militancy was the order of the day in the region and I did a thorough research which revealed that there was a long term, short term and immediate causes of the menace. I went to the creeks, saw the way they live and the challenges in the creeks and I concluded that these boys are not militants but aggrieved Nigerians and that we have to settle their grievances to make a change. My mission in the NDDC was to make a change. I am the architect of the Niger Delta Amnesty Programme,” the diplomat added.
The former NDDC chairman however picked holes in the implementation of the amnesty programme.  “I am not really satisfied. I have made that known to the authorities’ time without number that it wasn’t meant to be a salary paying venture; it was to create jobs for the boys to do. I mean to help them create jobs that will ensure their financial independence not getting salaries monthly, and till now, I have not told the authorities the plans I had for the boys because I was not consulted after I left NDDC,” he said.
Asked to comment on the recent transfer of supervision of NDDC to the ministry of Niger Delta Affairs, the diplomat said the move by the Presidency was in order: “When they said that Niger Basin Development Authority is under the Ministry of Agriculture, what did you say about it? It is very normal; I wish to thank late President Umaru Musa Yar’adua for creating the Niger Delta Ministry. Obasanjo created NDDC which is also commendable,” he quipped.
On the allegation some time ago that he burnt a billion naira in a cemetery to maysteriously achieve some political feats, the former chairman of NDDC, debunked the insinuation, saying that it was scripted to tarnish his image.
“That was one of the low points of journalism in this country championed by one of you from Akwa Ibom State. I had then reacted to that junk publication through a press statement and the purveyor of that news was dealt with by the law. If you said about one billion was burnt in a cemetery, former CBN Governor, Charles Soludo said it will take over a month to burn a billion naira and Federal Government sent security agencies to all cemeteries in the country and there was no trace. Every bit of that write-up was done here in Government House and the boy they used called me to apologize after, but I told him to just go,” he revealed, years after.
Read the full interview on pages 12 and 13

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