Pan Niger Delta Forum has described as irresponsible recent comments by Sheikh Ahmad Abubakar Gumi on the person and office of the Minister of the Federal Capital Territory, Chief Nyesom Wike.
PANDEF National Publicity Secretary, Dr Ken Robinson, said in a statement that it is most unfortunate that at a time when every well-meaning Nigerian should be concerned about the stability, peace, and unity of the country, “the likes of Sheikh Gumi are further stoking the embers of discord, certainly, intended to exacerbate tension in the country.”
According to the group, it is utterly despicable that a cleric would fashion himself into “a promoter of parochialism and acrimony.
“We consider the call for the removal of Chief Nyesom Wike as Minister of FCT, and indeed, any other Niger Deltan, based on wild predispositions, as an indirect poke at the people of the Niger Delta region, and the South-South Geopolitical Zone, in particular, to catechize our stake in the Nigerian State.
“Perhaps, it is necessary to underscore some unadorned facts Sheikh Gumi is pretending to overlook; Abuja is the Federal Capital Territory of Nigeria and not a sectional capital; more so, it (FCT) was developed and continues to be developed with, mainly, the oil and gas resources of the Niger Delta region, where Nyesom Wike comes from.
“It is commonly known that crude oil was swapped instead of payment to contractors in building the infrastructure in Abuja, including the Aso Rock Villa. At that time, no one talked of Abuja belonging to any particular ethnic group.
“In fact, from the administration of Shehu Shagari up until the General Babangida regime, the Federal Government encouraged all citizens, no matter where they come from, to acquire and develop property in the Federal Capital Territory, because Abuja belongs to all Nigerians.
“We recall that our youths came to Abuja in l998 for a so-called 2 Million Man March in support of the self-succession bid of General Sani Abacha, and saw how resources from their land were being used in building bridges, roads, and amazing structures, whereas their communities, meshed in an environment ravished and degraded by oil and gas exploration activities, are deprived of such “wonders”.
“The contradictions the youths saw, provoked renewed agitations in the Niger Delta leading to the “Kaiama Declaration” for Resource Control and Justice, in December 1998, and the subsequent crisis in the region.
“Suffice it to state that any Nigerian; from the North, South, East, or West, could and should, be appointed to serve as Minister of the Federal Capital Territory (FCT).
“Remarkably, Nyesom Wike is the 17th Minister of the FCT, but only the second Southerner to be appointed in 47 years, since the creation of the FCT”. The first Southerner, and the very first Minister of the FCT, for that matter, was Mobolaji Ajose-Adeogun, who recently passed on at 96; he served as FCT Minister between 1976 and 1979, under the military regime of General Obasanjo. The other 15 past Ministers of the FCT are all persons of Northern extraction. The records are there for all to see.
“Ironically, a Northerner, and one of the founding architects of this country, Musa Yar’Adua, father of late President Umaru Musa Yar’Adua and General Shehu Musa Yar’Adua, served as the Minister of Lagos Affairs during the First Republic from 1963 until the military truncated the First Republic in 1966. Nobody complained then.”