29 July 2011
DR Akpor Mudiaga-Odje is a human rights activist, constitutional lawyer and facilitator of the Niger Delta Democratic Union, NDDU, a group formed on October 1 2001. In this interview, he spoke on Boko Haram attack, proposed introduction of Islamic banking, President Goodluck Jonathan’s administration and other issues of national interest. Excerpts:
You are at the forefront of the agitation for the development of the
Delta region. Do you see the problem of the region being addressed by President Jonathan? Niger
I believe now that he has a full term of four years, having freed us from the emasculation of acting and pretending presidency syndrome to a full president, now by the grace of God, elected president. I believe it is time for him to look into the laws that regulate and touch on oil and Niger Delta. One thing I must tell Nigerians and my brothers in the Niger Delta is that the challenges and problems of Niger Delta are constitutional rather than political because of the laws of our land like the Land Use Act, the Petroleum Act, section 44 (3) of our Constitution, interpretation Act.
Section 18 of that Act has defined land as excluding mineral, so land is just the surface, you don’t own any mineral below. So if you have a South-South president, he cannot help you except he repeals those laws. The law of our land has restrained our agitations and made our challenges more difficult.
So I will ask Mr. President to please repeal and when necessary, pressurize for the respect and amendment of these laws, so that we can have enough time to manage our resources. Take note of the revenue allocation formula, since 1999 till date. What they are using is Act 106 which was a Military decree by Babangida but started by Obasanjo as an Act.
On a general note, how will you assess the administration of President Jonathan?
It is too short to assess him. We had the danger of trying to disentangle ourselves from the protracted if not fabricated circumstances by which he came into office. We had problems trying to stabilize him. We even said let him act like an actor like a movie star, they refused so it was a long battle.