Pan Niger Delta Forum (PANDEF) has tabled the demands of the region to the Federal Government ahead of next year’s (2019) expiration of about 50 oil blocs and marginal fields.
The group is asking the Muhammadu Buhari led government to give people of the oil region the Right of First Refusal (RoFR) in the renewal and award of new oil licenses in respect to the about 50 oil blocks and marginal fields.
Disclosing this in a statement on Saturday, the national leader of PANDEF which is the umbrella body of monarchs, leaders and stakeholders of the Niger Delta region, Chief Edwin Clark said that his group ensured that militants desisted from destroying oil facilities “resulting in improved production and revenue to the Federal Government”.
He then said that the group was aware that about 50 oil blocs and marginal fields will expire next year, 2019.
“These marginal fields should be divested to indigenous companies. We, therefore, demand that the Federal Government should, as matter of strategic priority, approve the granting to Niger Delta indigenes and the Niger Delta state governments the Right of First Refusal in the renewal and award of new oil licenses henceforth,” Clark said.
He argued that a situation in which major oil companies bypass host communities to offer sale of their oil installations to persons outside the oil producing communities is unpleasant as it makes the people of the Niger-Delta strangers in their own land and cause them to feel like a people colonised by their fellow Nigerians.
He said, “If the multinational oil companies were made to comply with the directive to relocate to their areas of operation in the Niger Delta, we reasonably believe that the socio-economic life of the people whose means of livelihood and ecosystem have been devastated, by oil and gas exploration, will experience a new lease of life
“The oil producing states, in the Niger Delta, who bear the brunt of degradation, arising from the oil exploratory activities, will also derive additional revenues from taxes and other essential levies from these oil companies”.
PANDEF expressed regrets that nothing much had been done by the Federal Government on all the critical issues it raised in its 16-point demand, except for the commencement of academic activities at the Maritime University Okerenkoko.
“The efforts of PANDEF were climacteric to the nation’s climbing out of recession through a stable oil and gas production regime, from an abysmal 800,000 barrels per day (bpd) at the height of the hostilities in the region, to an appreciable oil production level of 2.35 million bpd, massive increases in gas production, all of which significantly contributed to a robust revenue earning capacity for the Country.
“Indeed, through the intervention of PANDEF, the people of the Niger Delta region have demonstrated tremendous patriotism and goodwill towards the current administration. However, regrettably, there has been no tangible reciprocal action by the Federal Government to the gesture by the people”, Clark added.
PANDEF at a meeting with President Buhari last year had made ownership of oil wells for Niger Delta people part of its 16-point agenda to the government for the region.
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