Ogoni: Niger Delta Leaders Disagree on 10% Oil Revenue Allocation
Below is an article published by Punch:
Niger Delta leaders on Tuesday disagreed in their reactions to the resolve of the Federal Government to grant 10 per cent stake in the oil and gas Joint Ventures to the oil bearing communities in the region.
Confirming the plan in London on Tuesday, Petroleum Minister, Dr. Rilwan Lukman, was quoted as saying by Bloomberg that ”We are discussing it now. We are looking for an arrangement that will be good for the country and good for the Delta people.”
The Federal Government also clarified that the 10 per cent stake would be taken from the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation’s majority stake in the joint ventures.
Special Adviser to the President on Petroleum Resources, Dr. Emmanuel Egbogah, was quoted by Reuters as saying on Tuesday, “The foreign oil companies won’t be affected. This is our thing to give back to the Niger Delta.”
The Ijaw National Leader, Chief Edwin Clark, described the gesture as a welcome development while the Chairman of the defunct Niger Delta Technical Committee and Leader of the Movement for the Emancipation [sic] of the Ogoni People, Mr. Ledum Mitee, said the position of the Federal Government was at variance with the recommendation of his committee.
Clark, in a telephone interview with our correspondent, said the gesture should be part of the post-amnesty programme of the Federal Government.
The former Minister of Information stated, however, that the gesture was not a new development, adding that the Niger Delta leaders had agitated for it under the previous administrations in the country.
“Our position remains that if the oil communities are co-owners in Joint Ventures, they will regard oil facilities as their own and vandalisation of oil facilities will naturally become a thing of the past.
“This decision by the President to allocate 10 per cent of the Joint Venture asset to the oil communities is a welcome development. We are not asking for more. It is a new lease of life in the oil communities and we only hope that the Federal Government is sincere about it. We hope that it will be implemented in due course and it should be part of the amnesty programme.”
However, Mitee also in a telephone interview with our correspondent, said the initiative was not part of the recommendations of his committee. Mitee said the initiative was not properly thought out by the Federal Government.
He said, “The Federal Government ought to state whether the beneficiaries are the oil producing communities or ethnic nationalities. Is the Federal Government saying for instance that the entire Ijaw ethnic nationality is going to own 10 per cent of the Joint Venture assets or the Ijaw oil producing areas alone? Is the Federal Government talking of 10 per cent for each oil producing communities? This is ambiguous.
“Our recommendation was a package of community stakes, including supply of electricity and water from flow stations to communities within 15 kilometres and $2 per barrel of oil produced to communities; economic rent for acquired land; community tax and trust funds.”
Oil industry players, however, lauded the Federal Government’s move.
President, Nigerian Association of Petroleum Explorationists, Mr. Victor Agbe -Davies, said, ”This is a laudable development. NAPE supports this. The money that would accrue to the communities should be put into an Escrow account, which would enable the communities to arrange and use it strictly for development projects.
”The step is one of the ones needed to finally bring peace to the Niger Delta. The big challenge in the Niger Delta is infrastructural development. The implementation of the proposal should be done speedily because this will help in assuaging the feeling of the people, who feel that they are not being taken care of by the government. The communities must arrange and use the funds for priority projects.”
The Chairman International Energy Services, Dr. Oladiran Fawibe, said the plan would signal a new era in the relationship between oil companies and the communities.
According to him, the move would give the communities a sense of belonging , ”and it is a signal that this government is ready to accommodate the oil communities despite previous attacks on oil installations.”