‘Why Nigeria’s Oil In The South Belongs To The North’

Former presidential aide Dr. Usman Bugaje, who stirred controversy recently, has explained why Nigeria’s oil in the south belongs to the north.
Recall that Bugaje had once said there are no oil-producing states but the Nigerian state.

He stated that the over 70% landmass of the North is what earned Nigeria the nautical miles into the sea, which Nigeria enjoys and which gives the country the off-shore drilling rights.

His statement had stirred controversy and condemnation in some quarters.

But clarifying his statement in an interview with Vanguard, Usman Bugaje said: “I did say that the oil belongs to the North. However, let me explain. As we know, the constitution has made it very clear that oil and any other resources belong to the Federal Republic, yet you find some ignorant people talking about their oil. So, I said if we match that argument, we can still claim that the oil also belongs to the North. Why? Because 78% of oil in Nigeria is offshore. Due to the crisis and the environmental issues of taking oil from the land, most oil companies have found it more economical and peaceful to go through the sea. While in government, I was part of the team that was involved in the Gulf of Guinea talks (laws of the sea).

“What rule did we use? We used the United Nations Convention of the Law of the Sea. And what did it say? It says that every state that has a border with water would have an exclusive area, meaning a zone that is exclusive for it to do its own economic and security activities, protecting its land, its territory, and fishing. But, where a country wants to extend that beyond the permitted nautical miles into the sea, there are rules and regulations that would provide for how far it can go into the sea. What is the major factor that gives it mileage into the sea? It is the landmass.

“Whatever we get into the sea is as a result of our landmass as Nigeria. Now, if you divide the landmass in Nigeria, 78% of the landmass of this country belongs to the North. As you know, the whole of the South-East states can be put inside Niger. You can also put another five states in Niger and there will still be space. One state in the North can take more than two of the spaces of the total South-East. The North has the landmass. What I am saying is that if 78% of that landmass gives you that mileage into the sea where your oil comes from, the 78% of whatever mileage we get into the sea can therefore be claimed because the 78% landmass belongs to the North which is the majority. That is the argument. If they are not satisfied with this ownership, they can go to the National Assembly requesting a change in the constitution. That way, they can make the resources wherever it is found that of the state.”

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