Obj ignored my advice on Bakassi because of oil wells –Ex-Gov Attah

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Former Akwa Ibom State Governor, Obong Victor
Attah, has laid the blame for Nigeria’s loss of the
oil rich Bakassi peninsula, squarely on former
President Olusegun Obasanjo.
Obasanjo, he said, for ulterior motives, ignored
his advice and paper presentations that could
have prevented the negative judgement the
country got at the International Court of Justice,
ICC, The Hague.
Obong Attah stated this in an exclusive interview
with Ripples Nigeria in Abuja, insisting that the
former president ignored and shut him out
because he did not want Bakassi oil wells to
come to Akwa Ibom State.
He said, “The determination, was to keep Obong
Victor Attah out because if we succeeded, Akwa
Ibom would want to claim the oil wells. This is
because Obasanjo had determined to give them
to Cross River State. They kept me out and
refused to take any of the documents. They
however went to The Hague and fumbled”.
The former governor was reacting to questions
on the recent demand by another militant group
in the Niger Delta, the Bakassi Strike Force, aka
Esighi Group, asking the Federal Government to
reclaim Bakassi, if it wants it to lay down its
According to Obong Attah, Nigeria misdirected
itself badly on the issue of Bakassi, even as he
insisted that there was nothing he did not do to
ensure Bakassi was saved.
“There was nothing I did not do to save the
situation. Even if we lack ancient history, we
should remember the villages were fishing
villages, where people go to for fishing and come
back after the fishing season. That place was
called Apabana and is now Bakassi. All the
villages were named after existing towns and
most of them were in Akwa Ibom and not even
in Cross River State.
“I tried my best and it came out in a paper I
presented to show that those people had their
roots and Bishopric in Eket before it moved to
Oron. They owed everything to Nigeria. You
must also remember that at that time, Western
Cameroon was part of Nigeria. I also tried to
remind everybody concerned that the Certificate
of Occupancy for the military barrack in Bakassi
was signed by a military governor in Akwa
The former Governor, who said he was not
claiming that his papers would have won the
case for Nigeria, however said it would have
helped the country make a better case at The
Hague, which he noted could have changed the
He added that the situation led to Cross River
State losing all the oil wells despite the fact that
some oil wells were left for the state in his
Speaking on whether the demand of the Bakassi
Strike Force was feasible, Obong Attah said: “We
have a situation here where a decision had been
taken by the ICC and honestly, I am not a lawyer
to know if anything can be done. I will only
advice that if through good legal advice and
through political negotiation, we discover that
reclaiming it is not feasible, we should just
gnash our teeth and bury it because we cannot
go to war and reclaim it.
Speaking on the renewed agitation for
restructuring and fiscal federalism, Attah said
that though he would readily not want to use the
word restructuring because it has been severally
misused, he insisted that fiscal federalism is an
idea whose time has come.
He also frowned at the decision of President
Muhammadu Buhari not to implement the report
of the 2014 National Conference, saying the
report holds the key to reducing the current
agitations in the country by half.
Obong Attah said: “I feel sad that President
Muhammadu Buhari, who is doing very well,
should insist that he was not going to look at
the report of the 2014 National Conference. He
needs to look at it because there are aspects of
the report that, if he can implement, will
automatically take care of the demands by
groups such as IPOB, MASSOB, Niger Delta
Avengers, Joint Liberation Council and all others.
Everything will calm down. We have all these
agitations because of feelings of injustice and
feelings of being cheated.”

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