By Lanre Oloyede/TnTv Network
A Niger-Delta pressure group under the auspices of Host Communities of Nigeria Producing Oil and Gas, HOSTCOM, has called for allotment of oil blocks and marginal fields ownership to oil producing communities in the region.
The group also called for immediate end to oil spillage and gas flaring activities which have continued to devastate the environments in the area, adding that the consequential environmental degradation has deprived the people of the zone of their daily livelihood, as farmers can no longer till the land while fishermen have been forced out of business.
Speaking on Tuesday through its National Chairman, Style Benjamin Tamaranebi, during a courtesy visit to theHonorable Minster of Niger-Delta Affairs, in Abuja, the group presented a seven-point demand while decrying the high level of provocation arising from the neglect and dehumanisation of the host communities by oil exploration companies, which according to him, hide under obnoxious government laws to perpetrate their ignoble acts.
HOSTCOM Chairman urged the Federal government to ensure urgent remediation of the degraded environments of the communities where oil exploration and exploitation have been going on for about sixty-one years ago.
Foremost of these demands is the instant payment of gas flare penalty, which runs into billions of dollars, and for which approval has been given by the federal government with a mandate given to the Ministry of Niger-Delta Affairs to coordinate the release of the funds to the affected host communities.
Reacting, the Minister of Niger-Delta Affairs, Usani Uguru Usani, confirmed the approval for the payment of the said gas penalty, while lamenting the intricacy surrounding allocation of oil blocks, which he stressed is beyond the scope of the Ministry. Usani said oil blocks allocation entails a long process filled with bureaucratic bottlenecks, and it is multi-ministerial in nature.
“The issue of oil blocks and marginal fields is a complicated one. The issue is beyond our scope because of the technical involvement. The security implications have to play between the Presidency, NNPC, Ministry of Petroleum Resources and Office of the National Security Adviser,” Usani said.
The Minister however carpeted indigenes of the Niger-Delta region for their unpatriotic attitude to the region and the nation at large.
Usani decried instances where most of the project contracts in the Niger-Delta region were awarded to ‘sons and daughters of the soil, only for them to abandon the projects and absconded with the monies.