dezani_maduekeOil producing communities in Ondo State, at the weekend, called on the federal government to set up a national administrative board to handle direct disbursement of the 13 per cent oil mineral derivation fund accruable to oil-bearing communities in the country.

The board, according to the communities, would put an end to the current system whereby funds are released through the state governments’ agencies.

The communities’ request was part of the six-point communiqué issued after a meeting with stakeholders, comprising mainly women and youth groups who represent the oil communities in the states under the aegis of the state chapter of Oil and Gas Producing Communities of Nigeria (OGPCN) held at Okitipupa, Ondo State.

The communities said the board became necessary due to the alleged failure of the state governments to remit the statutory fund to the communities for their human and physical development as provided by the Nigerian 1999 Constitution.
The stakeholders also alleged that in some cases, funds meant for the areas were diverted and embezzled.

The meeting, which was presided over by the former chairman of the state Oil Producing Areas Development Commission (OSOPADEC), Chief Adewale Omojuwa, was attended by representatives of all the traditional monarchs from Ilaje and Ese-Odo local government areas.

However, residents of Kalaba community, Yenagoa Local Government Area of Bayelsa State, yesterday reported five fresh oil spill points along Agip’s oil pipeline in the area.

The new spills come even as another one last week remained unresolved. That spill, in Ogboinbiri in the Southern Ijaw Local Government Area of the state, forced residents from the area.

Three of the new spills reported yesterday were discharging oil into the environment while two are discharging a mixture of crude and gas.

Members of the community attributed the frequent spills in the area to the activities of oil thieves who sabotage the pipelines to steal oil.

Olukali Roman, an elder of the community impacted by the latest incident, explained that the menace would have been contained if the oil firm worked with the communities in warding off strangers from the pipeline right of way.
He said the company kept the community at bay, leaving them unable to report strange movements around the pipelines.

“We are really disturbed about the effect of these spills and on our own we want to cooperate to solve this problem but Agip does not want to come here and reason with us,” he said, stressing that the company, despite the size of its operation in Bayelsa, has no presence whatsoever in the area.
“They often come here to fix the leaks, they do not even tell us and they leave the area before we know that they are around,” Olukali added.

Meanwhile as officials of the oil firm remain unconcerned with the ongoing environmental damage accompanying its operations, Agip spokesman Tajudeen Adigun, declined comments when he was contacted by phone, directing further inquiries to the Managing Director of the firm in Abuja.


Information from ThisDay was used in this report.