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MOSOP, coalition demand Rivers oil areas development commission

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Movement for the Survival of the Ogoni People (MOSOP) and Niger Delta Civil Society Coalition (NDCSC) has urged Governor Nyesom Wike of Rivers State to establish an oil-producing areas development commission to tackle gross underdevelopment in oil communities.

The groups said it was disheartening that despite the 13 per cent derivation accruable to the state, the oil-producing communities were in dire need of basic amenities.

MOSOP President, Legoborsi Pyagbara, told The Guardian that 20 years after the state government started receiving 13 per cent derivation, it had become incumbent on the governor to establish an oil-producing areas commission just like Delta, Ondo, and Imo states, to bring development to the grassroots that host bulk of the oil fields.

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Pyagbara explained that because the people of Rivers, particularly those from the oil-producing areas, had not been stridently agitating for the creation of an oil-producing area commission over the years, the government had assumed that all was well with these communities in terms of human and infrastructural development.

His words, “Coming from my own area, Ogoni, we have not fared any better. There has not been any substantial difference between the life we lived before the 13 per cent derivation and now. So, we are not faring better because there is no mechanism for accountability. Nobody knows how much is received by this state in terms of 13 per cent. Nobody knows how it is being used and the government is not accountable to anybody.

“But I think it is also time for the government to key into what other people are doing. The state government should create that kind of institution too.”

The MOSOP president stated that since the state government had other sources of revenue, it should allocate 80 per cent of the monthly allocation from 13 per cent derivation to a commission that would oversee entirely the development of the oil-producing areas.

Similarly, the chairman of NDCSC, Anyakwee Nsirimovu, who hails from Rukpowu, a major oil-producing community of the state, lamented that oil-producing communities had fared poorly since the state started receiving the 13 per cent allocation.

Nsirimovu, who argued that it had become imperative to establish the oil-producing areas commission in Rivers, suggested that such commission’s intervention must be explicitly defined.

“They must determine areas of intervention. It could be in the area of education in the riverine areas. So, schools need to be built, so that children can go to school and not be seen picking periwinkle in the creeks when they ought to be in school learning,” he said.

He urged the state to do a thorough study of other state intervention commissions to avoid their pitfalls.

According to him, some of the oil-producing areas development commission started very well, but later fraught with corruption due to patronage and authoritarian style of governance in the region.

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