By Gabriel Patterson
While We (Indigenous Peoples) remain asleep in a supposed federal republic of Nigeria which for over 55 years has metamorphosed in to a Fulani occupied region and colonial structure, the Fulani who are none indigenous to Africa, is vibrantly postulating stupendous geographical and historical insanity with which they continue to advance to grab our lands just like with the guns given to them by Britain, France and America they shared our oil and gas wealth to themselves daring any of us to speak up but we fought them for 10 years only to get a commission, a ministry and a presidency that was sabotaged yet again by the Fulani…..If we don’t wake up yet again and this time fight them with superior and sophisticated weaponry then will remain subjects for the nest 100 years and right now it is no longer our oil and gas but including our intellectual properties and monies we make abroad (recent stamp duty) that they collect from us to build their caliphate:
“SHOCKER!!! Who Owns The Niger Delta? Fulanis Own Niger Delta – Bala Usman (Fulani)
SO WHO OWNS THE NIGER DELTA?
Bala Usman has now moved beyond General Olusegun Obasanjo’s Land Use Decree of 1978 to offer reasons why Niger Deltans do not own their lands and waters. His answer is straightforward. The Niger Delta belongs to the State of Nigeria. By that he means the Federal Government of Nigeria. This self-professed democrat offers two reasons for his arguments on why the Niger Delta does not belong to Niger Deltans. First, by right of conquest, it ceased to belong to its owners and was taken over by the British conquerors who then handed it over to the Nigerian State at Independence. His second reason flows from his unique theory of the geological formation of the Niger Delta. The waters and debris that form the natural wealth of the Niger Delta come from up North. We will consider these theories from a man who says he is fighting for Nigerian democracy, in reverse order.
Bala Usman’s Theory of the Formation of the Niger Delta. Imperialists have been known to be very creative in justifying their imperial ambitions. But none can match Bala Usman’s imagination. According to him, Niger Delta lands are only the secondary producers of oil and gas. The primary producers of these products are up North from where the Niger and the Benue drain farmlands, dead bodies, feces, etc., from which the minerals in the Niger Delta are made. Therefore, quoting his words now, “those states of Nigeria, upstream from the delta, in the Niger-Benue basin, should take exclusive ownership and control of the river water and its sediments drained away from them to form the delta and its hinterland, and demand their share from the returns from the export of crude oil and gas in proportion to what their vegetation, faeces, dead bodies, animal remains and fertile soil, generally contributed to the making of these minerals for hundred of thousands, and even millions, of years.”
How does one argue against this bent of mind? And yet it would be dangerous to say Bala Usman does not know what he is talking about. On the contrary, he does. He throws up these incredible theories. If they are not refuted, he insists that they should inform policies. If they are refuted convincingly, he moves on to other areas. But always, he has the ears of the powerful. So we must regard him as a spokesman for powerful interests in Abuja and Northern Nigeria.
First, let us grant him his argument. By the same token two consequences would follow. First, those countries from which and through which the Nile River flows would lay claim to Egypt and its wealth. Uganda, even Kenya, Sudan, and Ethiopia would lay historic claims to the resources of the Nile Delta. But obviously, that is not Bala Usman’s intention. The dynamics are different. Second, if his argument is correct, then the farmlands in the Benue-Niger valleys that benefit from the flow of the Niger and Benue from and through Guinea, Senegal, Mali, Cameroon, and Niger should be claimed by those other countries from which their fertility is derived. But of course, that is not what Bala Usman has in mind. What he has in mind is the wealth of the Niger Delta: how to distribute it in such a way so that his people will have the lion share. Then Bala Usman, the Truth Master, will declare to the world that Niger Deltans love democracy.
I think the rest of the country should understand that the barely hidden goal behind this theory is to instigate conflict between the people of the Benue Valley and the Niger Delta. Bala Usman will not be able to show anywhere in the world where his theory has been tried out. He has no scientific basis for his theory. His sole aim is to threaten the people of the Niger Delta and then sow much confusion in the body politic. Bala Usman’s two essays are laced with threats. Either the people he speaks for will have their way or there will be chaos. In order words, this is an exercise in intimidation.
There is no rationality behind these strange theories. If Bala Usman’s theory had any credibility, then we should have oil and gas in every delta region in the world. The Congo drains much the same sediments from upland countries. How much oil is there in the Congo Delta? Or conversely, why would there be any oil in the Sahara from which debris from other regions are not possible? No, this is not a rational theory. It is all part of mischief-making.
The Right of Conquest. Bala Usman is very angry at claims “that the modern ethnic groups of Nigeria, like the Ogoni, the Ijaw and the Urhobo, have some autonomous sovereign rights over the land and minerals of the Niger Delta and its coastal hinterland; and [that] these rights are illegitimately being denied by the Federal Republic of Nigeria.” But what are his grounds for saying that these lands do not belong to these ethnic groups or the state governments that run their affairs? Shamelessly, Bala Usman plays one of his imperialism cards, again. Hear him: “Whatever sovereign rights the governments of the pre-colonial polities of the Niger Delta and its hinterland had, over the soil, water, and minerals of the area, were destroyed by the British conquest.” Bala Usman then goes into a recitation of Lugardian decrees that sought to model the Amalgamation after the British conquest of the Sokoto Caliphate and the rest of Northern Nigeria.
For the avoidance of doubt, let it be clearly stated that the British
colonization of Southern Nigeria did not include the alienation of lands from their communities and even individuals. The British called the colonized region Protectorate because the Imperial Government said it was protecting its peoples and lands from hostile forces for the future benefits of the “natives.” In Warri Province, for instance, British colonial officers leased lands from communities in signed agreements that were accepted and respected by British courts, up to the Privy Council. Why would the British lease lands from Southern Nigerians if they assumed that their colonization included the alienation of lands and its resources? The British also signed agreements, so-called “treaties of protection,” with various communities in the Niger Delta. Each of them had nine clauses. None of these treaties talked of conquest nor alienation of lands from these communities.
The picture that Bala Usman is presenting did cover what happened in the Sokoto Caliphate and much of Northern Nigeria. There Frederick Lugard conquered the Sokoto Empire and imposed on it a condition that was merely repeating what its previous Fulani conquerors had put in place. The Fulani conquest of the Hausa kingdoms in the jihad that began in 1804 concluded with the alienation of Hausa lands by the Fulani State. Frederick Lugard imitated the Fulani conquerors by alienating the lands in the North. Lugard’s attempt to extend that regime of land alienation to the South was resisted everywhere in the South during his Amalgamation ventures. And he abandoned it. For instance in creating a Department of Forestry for the South, he fully acknowledged and respected the communal rights over lands in the South. As Lugard (1912-1919: 167) himself put it, [When] “The Ordinance of 1917 . . . empowered the Government to create forest reserves . . . [t]he rights of the natives who claimed communal ownership . . . were safeguarded.”
Bala Usman is stating the correct situation of what obtained with the British conquest of the North. But that was not what happened in the South. It is sheer revisionist history to impose retrospectively the land situation in the North unto the South. It was under the regime of General Olusegun Obasanjo in 1978 that the Northern land usages were imposed on the South under military fiat. For that Olusegun Obasanjo will for ever have a question to answer in Nigerian history. But even so, the land in the 1978 Land Use Decree is vested in the states, not in the Federal Government of Nigeria. Why should a self-styled democrat like Bala Usman be afraid of the powers of local governments and the decentralization of powers over land rights to the States?
The Niger Delta belongs to Niger Deltans. We have no share whatsoever of Katsina. Bala Usman and his people should leave the Niger Delta” alone.