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‘Governors cannot continue to ignore oil producing areas’

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Oil. field. Photo: drpepperscott230 / Pixabay

Concerned that the 13 per cent derivation has not been helpful in distributing the benefits of oil exploration to bearing communities, Niger Delta governors have been urged to set up an intervention agency.

Chairman of Bayelsa State Council of Traditional Rulers and Amanyanabo of Twon Brass, King Alfred Diete-Spiff, who made the recommendation, said based on the significant revenue generated by the country from crude oil exploration, it was morally pertinent that oil-producing communities benefit from natural resources in their domains through massive infrastructural and human capacity development.

Diete-Spiff, the first military governor of Old Rivers State, told The Guardian that based on the existential realities in the oil-producing communities, it was clear that they have been neglected by the state governments, which receive the 13 per cent derivation funds on their behalf, saying: “Based on the level of development in oil-producing communities, it is clear that they need more attention. The 13 per cent should be given to intervention commissions to go to the oil-producing areas to develop those areas.”

He observed that oil-producing states, such as Imo, Delta and Ondo, have set up special intervention commissions to address the infrastructural deficit in the oil-producing communities and tasked others who are yet to do the same to emulate them or lose their right to the 13 per cent derivation funds.  

“Other states should set up intervention commission. If they do not, they will lose the right to 13 per cent, I am afraid. You are collecting money under a false pretext, because the area which is generating the money, you don’t give it that special treatment,” he said.

Diete-Spiff warned that ignoring the plight of the oil-producing communities, who in most cases lack access to basic social amenities, such as hospitals, clean drinking water, well-maintained road networks and employment opportunity, would continue to fuel unrest, noting: “It is like a tinder box waiting to explode and we, the traditional rulers, will not allow our kingdoms to explode. God will not forgive us for groping around when we are not blind.”

The monarch blamed the federal government and the multinational oil companies’ failure to remit their statutory contribution for the over N2 trillion debt profile of the Niger Delta Development Commission (NDDC), saying the federal government has continued to treat the Commission the way it has been treating the Niger Delta River Basin Authority.

“NDDC, by the law setting it up, oil companies and government are supposed to contribute to it. The trillions of naira are being owed by the federal government and they should be persuaded to release the funds. But is it going to release the funds to people who are going to misuse it?

“You have to make sure that the people who are there are serious and are going to apply the funds properly before you release the funds. Every government comes and is hesitant to release the funds, but those funds are statutory and should be released,” he insisted.


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