Think beyond oil revenue, Uzodimma charges communities
•We need oil revenue to develop non-oil sector, communities insist
Imo State Governor, Hope Uzodimma, has advised indigenes of oil-bearing communities in the state to change their mentality, and think beyond oil as a source of revenue to withstand impending ‘dry up’ situation.
Uzodimma, represented by the Commissioner for Petroleum, Prof. Eugene Opara, gave the charge, at the weekend, in Owerri, while declaring open a one-day ‘Urashi Economic Summit 2022,’ with the theme: ‘Our People Beyond Oil,’ maintaining that a post oil industry recovery economy inclusion plan is necessary now through diversification. He advocated a trust fund to be managed by trusted persons on the board to take care of those suffering losses as a result of oil exploration and drilling activities.
In the event, chaired by the Amanyanagbo of Twon Brass and former military governor of old Rivers State, Alfred Diette-Spiff, Uzodimma urged indigenes of affected communities “to give peace a chance,” and desist from creating chaos in their environments.
He said: “People of Urashi, what is your faith now, and what will be your faith beyond oil? Oil is diminishing.” Acknowledging the sufferings of affected persons in the area, the governor empathised: “If you go to the oil producing area, you will know that the people deserve more than what they are receiving; but I am appealing to our people to allow peace reign. Let us try to understand whatever government is doing in the interest of our people.
“Our oil production level is reducing. I want to say, without contradiction, that our oil production is reducing, and, at the same time, being stolen along the road. I know that our people will be better off if we make peace. We have more than 2,000 Imo youths, who would receive training without relying on oil.”
On his own part, Diette-Spiff, said the summit was apt, considering the need to have alternative revenue sources away from oil.
He said: “With all the oil we have, I don’t know why it cannot give us industries. We should train marine captains, and marine engineers among our sons and daughters. Nigeria has human and other resources.”
Responding, the Commissioner for Niger Delta Affairs, Henry Okafor, and other representatives at the summit, insisted that oil-bearing communities lack basic infrastructure, urging that they required revenues from oil sources to think in the direction of incomes from non-oil sectors.
Corroborating views from oil-bearing communities, Okafor said: “We need oil money to talk about departure from oil dependency to a non-oil sector; we need money to train our people to be employable. We should make funds available to mitigate losses incurred by spill.”