A Civil Society Coalition, the Niger Delta Alliance Against Impunity, has berated the United Niger Delta Energy Development Security Strategy (UNDEDSS) over its scatting criticism of a former Lagos State Governor, Asiwaju Bola Tinubu, following his recent comments on oil theft in the Niger Delta.
Tinubu, while speaking during the official commencement of the All Progressives Congress, APC, campaign in Oyo State at the weekend, criticized President Goodluck Jonathan’s seeming inability to halt the theft of over 400,000 barrels of crude oil daily in Nigeria.
The APC national leader went further to accuse Mr. Jonathan and his friends of being behind the massive theft of crude oil from the Niger Delta. The allegation earned him a rebuke from the Pat Utomi-led UNDEDSS, which threatened to bar him from ever setting foot on anywhere in the region if he does not desist from politicizing the issue of oil theft.
However, a statement issued in Oghara, Delta State, yesterday by the Niger Delta Alliance Against Impunity and signed by its Convener, Bernard O. Oyabevwe Esq., the group said nobody can stop Tinubu from entering the Niger Delta
“We strongly condemn the statement released by the United Niger Delta Energy Development Security Strategy (UNDEDSS) threatening Asiwaju Bola Tinubu because of what we consider as a statement of fact he made on the Oil Theft problem in Nigeria”, the group said.
“We expected the UNDEDSS to allow the political gladiators address key issues buffeting the country which unfortunately include oil theft which President Goodluck Jonathan has explanations to give to Nigerians as the incumbent president who supervises the Petroleum industry
“Nigerians have consistently clamoured for issues-based campaigns ahead of the February 2015 general elections as well as refraining from threats to political opponents for which, a peace pact was last week signed by President Goodluck Jonathan of the Peoples Democratic Party (POP) , Muhammadu Buhari of the All Progressives Congress (APC) and other stakeholders in the electoral process.
“We view the threat on Asiwaju Bola Tinubu as an early violation of that peace accord and an attempt at dressing in Borrowed Robes as no individual, or group of persons can restrict the fundamental right of Freedom of Movement of any other person within Nigeria. We find such statements to be politically incorrect, extremely audacious, and completely absurd. We want the UNDEDSS to know that it is not the sole owner of the Niger Delta, neither is it the mouth piece of the region and cannot speak on behalf of the people of Niger Delta on issues of general political implication of national magnitude
“UNDEDSS equally claimed that ‘evidence abounds that he, and his fellow-travelers, like A Atiku, have been in the forefront of illegal Oil Bunkering in Nigeria for decades!’ Why did President Jonathan not take steps to make Tinubu and Atiku face the law if the claims of UNDEDSS are anything to go by? Why did the group keep silent all the while only to be issuing threats of Persona Non Grata during elections?
“We also want to put on record that the Niger Delta is not an Ijaw ethnic nationality affair. There are other leading ethnic nationalities: Urhobos. Itsekiris, Ogonis, Andonis, lkweres, Ukwanis, lsokos, among several others.
“We like to further place on record that UNDEDSS cannot be speaking for all Civil Society Organizations in the Niger Delta. They are on their own in this matter and can only speak for their organizations. We believe in a democratic Niger Delta where our resources would be transparently harnessed for the common good of our people.
“We strongly believe that President Goodluck Jonathan who is seeking re-election has to answer questions from citizens regarding his stewardship and escalating oil theft in the region, which is one of the issues he needs to address as he goes round campaigning.
“Asiwaju Bola Tinubu is free to visit Niger Delta any time and day he chooses, as we are currently preparing and other chieftains of APC in Ughelli before the general elections, and is free to ask any questions and raise any issues for politicians to address, just like any other Nigerian”, the group maintained.