#NigerDeltaDialogue: Areas FG Must Address In The Niger Delta Region
The Story of oil production in the oil bearing areas of Akwa Ibom State is a history of wanton destruction, reckless exploration and exploitation with a resultant devastation that knows no bounds. It is another case of man’s inhumanity to other men.
Apart from the 13% derivation which is paid to the state Government, there is little or nothing to show that the area is oil producing. In spite of the fact that Akwa Ibom is the largest oil producer:
• The Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC) has no office in the State
• None of the 12 NNPC subsidiaries is located in the State
• No oil depot for refined petroleum products.
• The communities are neither stakeholders not shareholders in the oil industry but are called and treated as “Tank Farms” in the industry.
• The Department of Petroleum Resources (DPR) operates from a two room apartment to oversee the industry in Akwa Ibom and Cross River States.
• The federal government has shown no interest in any meaningful development or presence in the area (other than the provision of policemen and other security forces to ensure the oil flows uninterruptedly). The 22 kilometer (Eket – Ibeno) road leading to Nigeria’s largest crude oil terminal is now being constructed by the state government. Mobil Producing Nigeria which has used the deplorable road exclusively for 48 years, diverted N8 billion from its promised offer to the community as oil spill palliative, as contribution to the road construction.
• The oil services companies come from outside Akwa Ibom with their workers whose taxes are paid to their places of residence. The ancillary benefits and the multiplier effects of the locating and operating from the oil producing area is therefore lost.
Time will not permit further elaboration on these stories of woe for 48 years. Suffice it to say that the interventionist visit by the Acting President should address these issues.
1. Our immediate demand therefore is that the oil companies operating in Akwa Ibom State should move their headquarters to the oil producing area of the state. Pressure has been on this demand since 1979 but the oil company continued to fake excuses to stay away. Today all those impediments ranging from lack of airport, communication services, road network, housing accommodation etc, have been conquered.
2. The over N30 billion spent to construct the Oil Terminal Road should be refunded by the federal government to the state for application to the development of the oil producing communities.
3. Some companies indigenous to Akwa Ibom State should benefit in the allocation of oil blocks in the next round of bidding.
4. The coastal railway line project from Calabar to Lagos should have a diversion through Ikot Abasi, Eket to Oron to make it clearly a coastal rail.
5. Although the bill for the conversion of the Maritime Academy in Oron to a Maritime University has passed through second reading, we expect the Acting President to make a pronouncement on it here.
The East-West Road was proposed as a dual carriageway from Lagos through the south-Western states to the South South states to terminate at Oron with an extension to Calabar. In 2006 the second stretch of the road was awarded from Warri through Port Harcourt to Oron.
The section from Onna through Eket to Oron (known as section IV) was awarded to Gitto Construction Company. In 2010, the construction company, after collecting N2.3b for payment of compensation for affected property in Eket township, made subtle moves to the community to change the scope of the road from dual carriage to single carriage. They offered to use the compensation money to do a bye-pass through Eket town in order to avoid pulling down houses. The community refused and insisted on a dual carriage as designed. Somehow, they were able to convince government officials on a single carriage and a bye-pass.
Today, section four of the East West road, stretcing through Akwa Ibom state is the worst road ever constructed by the Federal Government. It is sloppy, undulating, already overgrown with weeds and grossly incomparable with other sections of the road.
Your Excellency, we are bringing this issue for your attention because:
1. On page 47 of the Ministerial Technical Audit committee report states that the East-West road has been completed.
2. The Bye-pass has not been done and there is no provision for it in 2017 budget.
3. Work on the rejected single carriage through Eket is not on-going.
4. Page 70 of the Ministerial Technical Audit Committee also reports that “the contractor changed scope of work from dual-carriage to single one and no approval/authority is found in the file”.
The danger is that there may be no further provision for this road from 2018 buget.it may be left abandoned as it is. Let the dual carriage way be constructed or the bye-pass.
This is the dilemma of the oil bearing communities in Akwa Ibom States which elsewhere could evict militant action from the people.
Your Excellency, Let me on behalf of the good people of Akwa Ibom State express our appreciation to you for including this state in your tour of the oil producing states. We had thought you would ignore Akwa Ibom, as usual for lack of militant activities. It may interest you to learn that
It may interest you to learn that between 1969 and 1998, Akwa Ibom oil bearing communities were in the forefront of agitation (not militancy) for their right in oil production. We have tried to restrain our youths from militancy. It has not been easy and we can no longer guarantee that they will continue to listen to us if the federal government continues to ignore us.
Your Excellency, Akwa Ibom State is the largest oil producing state in the federation. It is the most peaceful oil producing state and has often had to make up for the shortfall in production from other states. This tour therefore should have started from Akwa Ibom.
However , we expect and believe that before you depart you will make a resounding pronouncement in appreciation of the many years of peace and support Akwa Ibom State has given the federal government in oil production. That will go a long way to appease the people of the state.
Being ext of a Presentation on behalf of the Oil Producing Communities of Akwa Ibom State by Rt. Hon. (Chief) Nduese Essien, to the Acting President Of Nigeria, Prof. Yemi Osinbajo, at the Town Hall Meeting in Uyo on March 2, 2017