HRM Atuwatse III, don’t give what you don’t have
Sir: I was amused when I read of HRM Ogiame Atuwatse III, donation of 52 hectares of land to the 90 Amphibious Battalion of the Nigerian Army for the construction of a barracks accommodation for officers and men of the battalion in Koko, Warri North Local Government Area of Delta State.
On the basis of the fact that a hectare of land is 15 plots of land, it, therefore, means that the traditional ruler is giving out 780 plots of land to the Nigerian Army in the face of development and population growth that has put pressure on available land in Delta State and Koko in particular.
In as much as I endorse the traditional ruler seeing security as everybody’s business, his support for the Nigerian Army and his encouragement of communities to support all security agencies to ensure peace, eliminate criminal activities and enhance socio-economic development; I nevertheless query the wisdom behind his giving out that magnitude of land belonging to the people of Koko to the Army.
The above brings me to the question: whether the land so donated belong to the Olu or various individuals, families and communities in Koko? Whether the Olu has the power to unilaterally donate 780 plots of land to the Army. What are the roles of the Warri North Local Government, the Delta State State Government, the Nigerian Army and the Federal Government of Nigeria in this transaction? Is this transaction a public or private transaction?
It is my take that the Nigerian Army does not need the gift of land from the Olu. If the Army needs land for its use, the Federal Government will simply acquire it by way of compulsory acquisition as provided for in the constitution from the landowners for public purposes and interest and consequently compensate the landowners.
In the extant case, I verily say unto the Olu: Nemo dat quod non-habet, meaning that one cannot give what he does not have.
The people of Koko do not have enough land for their unborn generations to farm, build industries and dwell on, so why give out that much land to the Army? Why not get business partners to build industries or to carry on mechanised farming on the land to engage the youths and the grassroots people on the land?
I am of the view that the socio-economic impact that the barracks will bring is a far cry from what the people will benefit from if the land is put into use for their well-being. Once the people of Koko and its environs are economically empowered there will be little or no crime there.
• Malcolm Emokiniovo Omirhobo