Tony John, Port Harcourt
The people of Niger Delta have called on the Federal Government to approve and institutionalise the community 20 percent equity fund, as captured in the Petroleum Industry Bill (PIB).
Stakeholders in the oil-rich region have warned that the issues of crude oil theft will continue unabated in the region until issues of resource control are duly addressed.
The stakeholders further noted that, if the 20 percent equity fund is approved, there would be control on the menace of oil theft and artisanal refining of petroleum products in the area.
These positions were contained in a 12-point communiqué issued, yesterday, after a roundtable meeting in Port Harcourt, Rivers State.
The programme was organised by the National Coalition on Gas Flaring and Oil Spill in the Niger Delta (NACGOND).
In the communiqué signed by the Coordinator of NACGOND, Father Edward Obi, the stakeholders recommended: “The community 20 percent equity fund in PIB should be approved and institutionalised. The communities are alienated because they feel they are not benefitting from proceeds of the oil.
“There is the need to retrain those currently engaged in oil theft and artisanal refining to diversify their skills for legal refining in partnership with government.”
However, Head, Centre for Conflict and Gender Studies, University of Port Harcourt, Dr. Fidelis Allen, pointed out that crude oil theft and illegal refining have worsened in the region.
Also, a former president of Movement for the Survival of Ogoni People (MOSOP), Prof. Ben Naanen, disclosed that the reason oil theft and illegal refining have become common in the region was because the federal government had failed to meet the energy needs of rural people.