Tafawa Balewa knew North had oil but left exploration for younger generation –Ex-envoy
A former Minister of Education, Science and Technology, Amb. Yerima Abdullahi, has said the first Prime Minister of Nigeria, Abubakar Tafawa Balewa (1912-1966), knew about the deposits of oil in the North but didn’t explore it.
Abdullahi said Balewa’s intention was to allow the younger generations to explore the oil.
He said the discovery of oil in the North, particularly the recent one in the Gondola Basin, had shamed those who tag the region as a parasite on Nigeria.
The Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation recently announced the discovery of hydrocarbon deposits in the Kolmani River II Well on the Upper Benue Trough, Gongola Basin, in the North-Eastern part of the country.
Based on this discovery, Abdullahi said those describing the North as a parasite on others have to eat their words.
He said, “The future is now. Fortunately, the oil was found in Bauchi, which is our home. We expect many other mineral resources such as gold and copper to be discovered, and not just oil, in the North.
“Oil and gas existed before we were born. Even our elders, including the Tafawa Balewa government, knew but decided not to make so much noise about it, but to leave it for the younger generations.”
Abdullahi did not state if the latest discovery would spark self-determination as pursued by other regions but said the North had never denied any part of the country the right to control their resources.
“We are glad that oil has been found in the North and it will add to Nigeria’s wealth because we believe in the unity of the country. We don’t begrudge any part of the country or Nigerians from partaking in the wealth God has given us,” he added.
Meanwhile, Gombe State Governor Inuwa Yahaya, through his Senior Special Assistant on Media and Publicity, Ismaila Misilli, has welcomed the discovery of hydrocarbon deposits in the Kolmani River II Well on the Upper Benue Trough of the Gongola Basin.
He said, “The development will change the economic fortune of the state and the North-East geopolitical zone, stimulate job creation and ultimately lead to job creation and wealth for the people.
“The North is not bothered about resource control. An average Northerner believes everything in the country belongs to the whole country. That is why you see us (Northerners) accommodating people coming from far and near. This (oil discovery) will not change our mindset.”
Photo: Late Abubakar Tafawa Balewa
Written by Chima Azubuike, Gombe, Punch Newspapers