Ogoni: Ledum Mitee Urges Redesign of Oil Policies in Delta
Mitee explains that current policies fail to address the root militancy problem in the region and suggests that increased investment in local gas-producing Delta communities would enable successful reintegration in the region.
Below is an article published by Next:
Since 1956, when crude oil was first discovered in commercial quantity in Oloibiri, Bayelsa State, it had been mixed fortunes for communities in the Niger Delta, who contend with a variety of challenges.
One of such challenges is environmental degradation, which has negatively impacted the ecosystem and in a way, adversely affected economic activities of the rural dwellers. Despite the efforts of government, oil companies and other stakeholders to redress the depravities in the oil bearing communities, it is still obvious that poverty looms large in the region.
The Rivers State House of Assembly recently organized an international conference in Port Harcourt, as part of measures to address various challenges posed by oil and gas exploration in the region.
The main objective of the conference, according to Tonie Egobueze, secretary to the organizing committee of the summit, was to address “reformation of the industry in relation to the economy of the people of Rivers State,” while also providing a platform for the oil exploration firms to showcase their products and services.
Since the conference ended, there have been reactions and counter-reactions to viewpoints expressed on gas flaring by the notable speakers.
Global statistics indicate that Nigeria ranks next to Russia in the volume of gas flared, just as it loses revenue estimated at N375 million annually.
Environmentalists say that gases emitted into the atmosphere during such flares are hazardous as they include sulphur dioxide, nitrogen dioxide and other carcinogenic volatile organic compounds as dioxin, benzene and toluene.
These emissions, they say are a major contributor to the stock of greenhouse gases in the atmosphere, which have been verified to pose health hazards to humans and animals in surrounding communities.
The group managing director of NNPC, Austin Oniwon, however said the fastest way to stop gas flaring was to step up domestic and industrial gas utilization.
Mr. Oniwon said though the nation had abundant gas deposits, tapping the natural resources required huge investment and technical know-how, which required collaboration with foreign expertise.
Ogoni leader, Ledum Mitee, who was chairman of the defunct Technical Committee on Niger Delta, stressed the need for an increase to 24 percent, the amount of revenue accruing from oil and gas to the Niger Delta states, to enable sustainable development in the region.
Mr Mitee, who is the president of the Movement for the Survival of Ogoni People, asked for the immediate take-off of the Federal University of Petroleum Resources in Effurum, Delta State, to raise the manpower level of Niger Delta people.
“The current amnesty programme appears to be a stand-alone concept with no attempt to address the root cause of the problem that bred armed militancy in the first place,” he said. “The process would have to be designed to ensure that where disarmament terminates, demobilization begins and where demobilization ends, reintegration commences.”
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