Niger Delta marginalization: Urhobo leaders take case to NASS

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By Haruna Salami

Leaders of Urhobo nation have taken the case of alleged marginalization of the people to their representatives in the National Assembly and other agencies of the Federal Government.

Leading a delegation of about 20 leaders from Delta central, Chief (Dr) Obiuwevbi Ominimini presented a compilation of Urhobo Oil and Gas facilities to Senators and Honourable members representing Urhobo ethnic nationality at the National Assembly on Thursday.

According to him, Urhobo Ethnic Nationality in Delta Central Senatorial District, Agbarha Warri Kingdom, Okere Urhobo Kingdom of Warri South LGA, Iduophori and Odorubu communities in Delta South Local Govt Area contributes so much to the coffers and economy of Nigeria through the production of oil and gas without significant development commensurate to our contribution.

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“What is even disheartening scenario is that the peaceful nation of the Urhobo people and the pure commitment and loyalty to the Nigeria state and projects has been taken for granted”, adding it won’t deter them.

He said in the verified compilation, one can see the enormous contribution of Urhobo Nation through these active oil and gas producing wells of over 350, 15 flow stations and over 20 gas flare sites, but unfortunately “One can now see very clearly the reason why the lifespan of the Urhobo people at home is been shortened and crippled with a lot of diseases emanating from the polluted air and ecosystem”.

In spite of these injustices, Association of the Urhobo Oil and Gas Ethnic Nationality (UROGAN) is involved in the advocacy in all the oil bearing communities of Urhobo while canvasing for proper development of the people and the communities of our Ethnic Nation.

Chief Ominimini also complained of lack of a commensurate positive impact from the Amnesty office, adding that his people are not considered as part of it. “This is bad as our sons who disarm in the amnesty phase 2 and 3 are treated like slaves compared to their counterparts from other ethnic nationalities.

“At NNPC and in all the oil strategic business units, NPDC, NUPRC, NPIMS, NMDPRA, WRPCL, PHRCL, KRPCL, PPMC, NGMC, NGMC, etc do not have Urhobos in any enviable office. Instead, casualization has become the portion of our people, which he rejected in Jesus name.

“One of the injustices done to the Urhobo Nation is the unlawful counting and ceding of Urhobo oil and gas facilities to Edo state at Mosogar and Idjerhe (Jesse) Kingdoms and the unlawful transfer of Ukpokiti Community’s facilities in Agbarha Warri Kngdom to Omadino in Itsekiri”, which he said were “unacceptable” and “should be corrected”. What is due to Idjerhe and Mosogar in the Amaladi communities and Agbarha Warri must be given to them.

“Urhobo remains the highest producer of oil and gas in Delta state as Delta state remains the highest producer in Nigeria. Delta produces more than 34% of the crude oil and gas in Nigeria. What Urhobo produces is far more than some states yet we have extremely too little in return from NDDC and Ministry of Niger Delta in terms of projects and programmes in comparison to states and those who produce far less than us. This is very unfair and unjust to the Urhobo Nation. Ministry of Niger Delta has two skill acquisition centres in Delta South Senatorial District, one in Delta North and Zero in Delta Central. This is another evil against us.

The delegation also complained of the 13% derivation coming to the Delta state government where 50% of the 13% meant for Desopadec for the development of the oil producing communities.

Ominimini said the sharing formula of the 50% accruable to Desopadec has been politicized against Urhobo Nation that produces the highest. We are reduced to 21% instead of about 40% of this fund in line with the real production quantum, adding that the call for the state government to call on the appropriate government authority to give the real figure of each of the communities in Delta state has fallen on deaf ears.

He said under Senator Ifeayin Okowa as governor of Delta state, the 13%derivation fund was misused. “Till date, there is no official government document neither board resolution supporting the sharing formula in Desopadec. Urhobo sons and daughters working at Desopadec and even the Urhobo board members live like second class citizens. This is unacceptable”.

Again, he said the implementation of the Local Content Act does not include the Urhobo people in the oil and gas critical sector as they do not even know whether its implementation exists although Urhobo has widely trained experts in the oil, gas, science, technology, agriculture, health, accounting, management science, law, etc.

“Where are the implementation of the local content in Nigeria? We are heavily pained that Petroleum Technology Development Fund (PTDF), a government agency that trains expertise, more so in overseas scholarship in the petroleum sector, has excluded Urhobos from the yearly training programme.

“Frankly, our souls, not only our physical bodies are crying as we see names like Musa, Danjuma, Abdullahi, Emeka, Chinedu, Okafor, Ola, Seyi, Ade, etc. You won’t see names like Oghenerukevwe, Ominigho, Ejiroghene or Oghenevwegba. We reject this sharp practice against the Urhobo people who are major oil and gas producers in Nigeria.

He said the sales of the oil and gas facilities in their areas by the International Oil Companies (IOCs) to other investors without giving Urhobos the right of first refusal to buy or not becomes the “2nd colonization of our people after the British who left in 1960.

Shell Petroleum Development Company (SPDC) handed over the oil facilities to other oil companies like Heritage Energy Operational Services Ltd (HEOSL), Shoreline, Seplat Energy Plc etc, without our consent and consultation. This is bad. Even our equity share and the host communities is no where to be found. There is heavy delay in the implementation of the Petroleum Industry Act (PIA) with respect to the Board of Trustees, management and advisory committees by the settlors. The penalty for the delay as prescribed by the by the PIA should be paid by the settlors.

UROGAN also scheduled to visit Ministers of Petroleum, Niger Delta, NDDC, NSA SGF and even President Tinubu over this matter.

In his response, the Senator representing Delta Central, Ede Dafinone thanked the delegation for making the journey to Abuja to present the issue of oil and gas in Urhobo nation.

He advised them on the need to have production figures so that they can argue their case with facts and figures

Senator Dafinone promised to use his position as the vice chairman of Senate Committee on Local Content to press forward the issues raised and urged the members to write petition to the Senate Committee on Ethics, Privileges and Public Petition on violation of Local Content Act in relation to unemployment and casualization of staff.

Senator Joel-Onowakpo Thomas (Delta South) said this is the struggle we have been on to bring the attention to the plight of their people, adding that the Urhobo, I jaw, Itsekiri contribute mostly to oil production, but regretted that Nigeria has not been fair to the Niger Delta people.

According to him “if this oil is in another place, Urhobo will not gain anything.

The Delta South Senator said the agitations are very strong and government must do something about it because “you can’t have peace without justice”.

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