Acting President Yemi Osinbajo has lashed out at Nigeria’s elites, blaming them for the woes of the nation.
Mr. Osinbajo spoke on Monday in Benin City, Edo State. He was in the state to continue his tour of oil-producing states in the country.
“The elites everywhere, and not just in the oil producing communities, have very frequently deprived the people the opportunity to enjoy the fruits of the land,” Mr. Osinbajo said.
“That is the Nigerian story. And that is something we must deal with. We cannot continue as if we don’t know. We know.
“It is not just oil producing community issue, it is across the country.”
The crowd in the Samuel Ogbemudia College (formerly the New Era College), venue for the acting president’s meeting with the Edo State government and the oil producing communities, applauded Mr. Osinbajo’s remarks.
Mr. Osinbajo continued: “If you look at the numbers of contracts and the volumes of money that have been spent on paper in this country, it is enough to develop several countries. But this money has been usually corruptly taken away.”
The acting president told the people how corruption among the elites was also responsible for the lack of meaningful development in the oil-producing communities.
“I have looked at some of the issues of abandoned projects. I can tell you precisely how much have been voted or spent in several of our communities. And there is no sign of development in those areas.
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“I can tell you how many of these projects are supposed to have been completed, and when you looked in the books, they say they have been completed. But they have not been completed. They haven’t even been done. Many have not even been started at all,” he said.
The acting president repeated a line he often used in the other oil producing states he previously visited, that the people of the oil producing areas have not really benefited from the wealth that oil has brought to the country.
He spoke of President Muhammadu Buhari’s sincerity and determination to turn things around in the Niger Delta.
“It does not make sense for leadership to look at the plight of the people, especially in the oil producing areas. This is the source of the wealth of the nation. Even if you ignore the people for a while, a time will come when you can no longer ignore them.
“So, there’s no question at all that we are committed to doing the things we say we will do, and that is the pledge coming directly from President Muhammadu Buhari himself.”
Mr. Osinbajo informed the people of the practical steps the federal government is taking to change the fortune of the oil producing communities.
“The ministry of petroleum in collaboration with the oil companies is working on 20 initiatives for host communities, state by state, and this includes working with illegal refineries so that we can bring them into a programme of what we have described in other states as modular refineries. So that these illegal refineries can become hubs for proper refining.
“We must make the oil producing communities become hubs for petroleum refining,” Mr. Osinbajo said.
Earlier on, before the acting president spoke, there was commotion in the hall as some protesters pushed their way into the hall and insisted that Mr. Osinbajo must visit the oil producing communities in order to have firsthand knowledge of what the people were going through.
The meeting was temporarily disrupted for about 10 minutes.
The governor of the state, Godwin Obaseki, appealed to the acting president to consider making another visit to the state, from there he could take a tour to the oil producing communities.
“Like other oil-producing states in the Niger Delta we have had our fair share of neglect and deprivation, and that is what you’ve heard from our people today,” Mr. Obaseki told Mr. Osinbajo.
The governor said the state government was developing a masterplan for the development of the 38 oil producing communities in the state.
“Mr. President with your permission and agreement with the federal government, we will not allow any government or any agency to operate in any of our oil producing communities without strict adherence to our masterplan,” Governor Obaseki said.