SAN FRANCISCO, March 12, (THEWILL) – The Ijaw Youth Council (worldwide) has reacted to claims by former National Secretary of the now defunct Action Congress of Nigeria (ACN), Alhaji Usman Bugaje, that crude oil resources in the Niger Delta and Southern part of Nigeria actually belongs to the North.
Describing Bugaje’s statement as reckless, provocative, baseless, misleading and a display of highest level of ignorance, IYC in a statement signed by its spokesman, Eric Omare , on Wednesday, said Bugaje was ignorant of the United Nations law.
The U.N law, according to Omare, has no provision saying the maritime boundary of a country is determined by its land mass. According to Omare, there is nowhere in Articles 3, 5, 57 and 76 of the 1982 United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea (UNCLOS) where it is stated that the land mass of a coastal state determines its mileage into the sea or its maritime boundary.
Bugaje was quoted to have said during the recent meeting of Northern Elders Forum (NEF) on the National Conference held in Kano that it is wrong for any state in Nigeria to claim that it is oil producing because 72 percent of the total land mass in the country belongs to the North and by the United Nation’s law, it is only the North that actually has the right to claim ownership.
The Northern leader also said “ whatever mileage you get in the sea, according to the United Nations Law of the Sea is a measure of the land mass that you have.”
Acording to Bugaje, what the mileage to the sea and land mass of this country (Nigeria) that gives it long 200 nautical miles or more into the ocean is because of that 72 percent of the land mass of this country is of the North. According to him, the investment in the oil and gas industry came from the Nigerian state and the territory belongs to the Nigeria State.
He added that what the Niger Delta people claimed is the off shore oil is actually the oil of the North. But reacting to the statement on Wednesday, IYC described Bugaje’s statement as reckless, provocative, baseless, misleading and a display of the highest level of ignorance.
The statement expressed disappointment that such a statement could come from a Northern elite such as Bugaje. IYC stated that Bugaje’s statement was a ploy to mislead Northern delegates to the National Conference to oppose the legitimate demand of the Niger Delta people to control their resources.
“To the IYC, such a misleading statement coming from an elite such as Dr. Bugaje brings to the fore the reason behind most of barbaric acts coming from that part of the country,” IYC said.
“Contrary to Usman Bugaje’s assertion, the IYC wishes to state that there is no United Nations Law which states that the maritime boundary of a country is determined by the land mass of the country.
“For the records, there is no where in Articles 3, 5, 57 and 76 of the 1982 United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea (UNCLOS) where it is stated that the landmass of a coastal state determines its mileage into the sea or its maritime boundary.
“The United Nations Law of the Sea which is the primary law which determines the maritime boundary of coastal states defines the Exclusive Economic Zone and the Continental Shelf to be up to 200 nautical lines measured from its baseline which is the low water mark along the coast.
“Hence, the land mass of a country is not a consideration in determining its maritime boundary. Therefore, Dr. Bugaje’s statement is a deliberate ploy to mislead his northern brothers to prepare the ground to oppose the legitimate demand of the Niger Delta people to control their resources at the forthcoming National Conference.”
The statement further said: “The IYC is very much aware of the game plan of the Northern Elders Forum. The IYC is watching and ready for the challenge!
“We wish to further state that the initial and present investments in the oil and gas industry is not the investment of the Nigerian state or Northern Nigeria as Dr. Bugaje would want people to believe .
“It was the multinationals who came to explore oil during the colonial and post-colonial era that did the initial investment and subsequent investment of government in the oil industry is from the proceeds of the Niger Delta oil.
“Furthermore, the groundnut and economic resources produced from the North were never used to develop the Niger Delta and the oil and gas industry.
“Northern leaders and especially elites like Dr. Usman Bugae are advised to bury their frivolous claim to Niger Delta oil and think of creative means to harness the resources found in the North.”
The IYC insisted that “the Niger Delta oil belongs to the communities and people of the Niger Delta and by extension the states where the oil is found and produced.”
Warning the Northern leaders to stay clear of Niger-Delta oil, the statement, said: “Niger Delta oil does not belong to Northern Nigeria and the Nigeria State. The IYC is capable and ever ready and willing to defend, protect and assert the Niger Delta communities and people ownership of its oil and gas resources both onshore and off shore.”