Energy Development Security Strategy - A coalition of ethnic and political pressure groups under the aegis of the United Niger Delta Energy Development Security Strategy (UNDEDSS), has called on the Federal Government to scrap ownership of all oil blocks to ensure equity and fairness in the country.
Speaking with newsmen in Lagos, Secretary General of UNDEDSS, Mr Tony Uranta said that "Nigeria should scrap ownership of all oil blocs and begin at zero point to re-allocate them in the spirit of fairness and equity."
According to him, "oil blocs should now be allocated based on federal character principle since the nation is reluctant to give us either total control or make sure the Niger Delta gets what it deserves".
Uranta explained that the decision of UNDEDSS was coming on the heels of the division in the Nigerian Senate over the proposed Petroleum Industry Bill (PIB), which the executive said was aimed at reforming the oil sector.
The UNDEDSS scribe noted that the 83 per cent oil block ownership by Northernors was not news to the coalition but expressed shock over the Northern Senators strong opposition to a bill that would ensure justice and equity to the Niger Delta people "who have suffered and are still suffering so much degradation and other health related issues from exploration and exploitation of oil in the region for too long."
Uranta described the inability of the National Assembly to pass the PIB as unfair to the Niger Delta region saying "whilst we talk of derivative principle of 13 per cent to the Niger Delta, we must remember that over 60 per cent of the federal allocation to councils in Nigeria go to the North."
He stated that "a lot of monies are being paid to the northern states based on the local government councils, while Bayelsa for instance gets an allocation indirectly derived from the oil it produces for eight councils, Kano gets allocation for up to 44 councils."
Speaking further, he said there was a lot of injustice in the system that should touch the heart of any right thinking person in this nation".
He explained that the 13 per cent derivative fund already in practice was not enough to take care of the havoc caused by exploration in the Niger Delta region.
He pointed out that while the bill if passed would ensure that the Niger Delta gets a little more for its sufferings, it was for the benefit of all Nigerians and not just oil host community alone.
"All Regions in Nigeria have something to gain from the bill when passed" he added.
By Dapo Akinrefon