Oil producing communities from nine states are now more determined to take their destiny in their own hands. The evidence abound in the five 15-point development roadmap presented to the Minister of Niger Delta Affairs, Pastor Usani Uguru by oil producing communities in the Niger Delta region of the federation. Among other things, the communities under the aegis of Association of Community Leaders representing nine oil producing states in the region want the federal government to address the challenges confronting them.
First, the communities request the Federal Government to establish a Petroleum Industry Tribunal to settle disputes arising from oil and gas activities in the region. This they say would help to address conflicts between host communities and the oil companies quickly.
The association also demands that the federal government address the problem of oil pollution, immediate commencement of work at oil spill remediation sites and passage of the long standing Petroleum Industry Bill, PIB, among others.
Chairman of the association, Ishmael Frank Oputu also presented a list to the minister when the association paid him a courtesy call. Responding, the minister said that the demands of the host communities are justified based on the fact that the communities have contributed towards peaceful existence in the Niger Delta.
The Ministry of Niger Delta Affairs was established by the administration of late President Umar Yar’Adua to help address the problems of the region, but that aim seems to have been defeated. For instance, the Federal Government and Oil Companies indicted by the United Nations Environmental Programme, UNEP report on the environmental restoration of Ogoniland, are yet to start cleanups.
Usani, in his response said that the impact of the government’s efforts would be felt on the issues of environmental remediation in the area, ‘if the problems were not complicated by vandals.’ Oputu had said that the government did not abandon the East-West Road, adding that a total of N286 billion of the N560 billion estimated to complete it had so far been paid to the contractors.