The Ogba/Egbema/Ndoni Host Communities Stakeholders Forum has expressed their grievances to the government and multinational oil and gas companies operating in the area of gross neglect in the scheme of things despite being the highest oil and gas producers in Nigeria.
At a press conference held at the Omoku Civic Center on Tuesday, Chairman of the group, Chief Engr. (Dr.) Nelson S. I. Ekperi,who addressed the press, painstakingly highlighted the enormous contributions of ONELGA in the socio economic development of the nation but regretted the prolonged neglect faced by their communities in spite of their substantial contributions to Nigeria’s oil and gas sector.
The Chairman of the forum which comprised of traditional rulers, Chiefs, CDCs and Youths from all the oil and gas host communities in Ogba/Egbema/Ndoni Local Government emphasized that the people of ONELGA are ordinarily supposed to be stakeholders in the business of oil and gas in Nigeria, but noted that the reverse had been the case with no impact of federal government, NDDC, Ministry of Niger Delta, Indorama and NLNG is felt.
“ONELGA is endowed with abundant human and natural resources and the highest deposits of the world’s sustaining natural resources such as oil and gas, clay, kaolin and silica/sand. The L.G.A also has a big and rich agricultural belt suitable for mass production of cash crops such as palm produce, yam, plantain, cassava, rice, beans, livestock, timber and other forest resources. As the host of the majestic River Niger, it is a tourist attraction.
“Economically, ONELGA contributes immensely to the State and to Nigeria as a nation. This fact is incontrovertible and ordinarily, the imprint of ONELGA and her people ought to be boldly and clearly stamped on the area of her contribution to the nation. But the reverse is the case.
“The Nigeria Liquefied Natural Gas (LNG) ships are named after several towns and communities that have nothing to do with oil and gas while the area that is the source of the product that has made Bonny very important is ignored”, he lamented.
Emphasizing the need for immediate attention to their concerns, the ONELGA stakeholders went to list their demands. Top on the list is the immediate appointment of an ONELGA indigene into the Board of the Niger Delta Development Commission (NDDC).
They demanded that the recent appointment of NDDC Board of Directors be revisited to accommodate an ONELGA indigene as duly envisaged in the NDDC(Establishment etc) Act 2000 which states inter alia:”Appointment of one person (in the Board) who shall be an indigene of an oil producing area to represent each of the member States.
“From the above; it is clear that ONELGA and ONLEGANS deserve at least a slot out of any number(s) coming to Rivers State.
We have a pool of qualified experienced persons that can effectively and efficiently perform outstandingly in any portfolio.
Furthermore, it may interest you to know that in the appointments of Board of Directors of Niger Delta Development Commission (NDDC) made throughout the entire 8 years Administration of former President Muhammadu Buhari GCFR, ONELGA People were neither appointed nor nominated for any position in the Board; now that a new administration has come, we hoped that equity and fairness will come to fore light and see an ONELGAN appointed into the Board but the status quo continued”, the Chairman said.
The ONELGA stakeholders further appealed to the NDDC to intervene on the perennial flooding that is threatening to wipe out the population and ecosystem of the area by dredging the River Niger, Orashi River and its tributaries and distributaries.
The group also demanded that the federal pipeline surveillance contract in ONELGA should be properly reviewed to capture all landlords in the area being the highest oil and gas producing LGA in Nigeria.
In furtherance to their demands, the group gave a two-week ultimatum to the NAOC to meet with the ONELGA Host Communities as stakeholders in the process of transfer of assets and liabilities to OANDO PLC following the new takeover deal.
The group also declared: “That we are calling on the Executive Governor of Rivers State and the State House of Assembly to enact a law and establish RISOPADEC from the 13% derivation fund as seen in states like Imo, Delta and so on. This is to enable the Host Communities to benefit more directly from what belongs to them and create more jobs for the teaming youths in the state”, he said.
“That having seen our high level of contribution to this country we demand that Federal College of Education (FCET) Technical, Omoku, should be upgraded to a Federal University of Education and named in honor of Late Prof. Claude Ake without further delay.
“We hereby give a 21-Days Ultimatum from the day of this conference to both the Rivers State Government and the Federal Government to enter into serious talk with us on the way forward”.