NEGLECT: Buhari begs oil-rich area
HOST communities of Oil Mining Lease (OML)-25 in Kula Kingdom, Akuku-Toru Local Government Area of Rivers State, on Thursday got an apology for suffering neglect and deprivation.
President Muhammadu Buhari apologised to the communities on behalf of the Federal Government for the 40 years’ neglect.
He described as unacceptable, the dearth of development projects in the oil and gas-rich Kula communities.
The President said it was unbelievable that communities that had hosted oil and gas facilities for four decades would be asking for schools, hospitals and potable water in 2019.
The communities have been hosts to Anglo/Dutch oil giant, Shell Petroleum Development Company of Nigeria Limited (SPDC).
President Buhari, who was represented by his Special Adviser on Niger Delta Affairs, Senator Ita Enang, spoke yesterday during the reopening of OML-25 assets in coastal Belema in Kula Kingdom.
There was also the groundbreaking of 1.5 million-litre potable water and 12-kilometre treated water reticulation project for Oko-Ama and Belema by the Group Managing Director (GMD) of the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC), Mele Kyari.
Some protesting Kula women had occupied the SPDC’s flow station and other facilities in the area for over two years since 2017, until it was resolved last month, when the Minister of State for Petroleum Resources, Timipre Sylva, visited.
After reopening the oil facility, the minister pleaded with the women to return to their various homes with an assurance that their requests would be addressed.
President Buhari said: “We are coming here at a very good time. Just two days ago, the draft 2020 budget was presented to National Assembly. Now that I have seen what you are going through, we are going to take this message to the members of the National Assembly, to redirect the budget to know what they are providing for you.
“We have been to the communities (in Kula Kingdom). I felt touched that the people were asking for schools, hospitals and potable water in 2019, after 40 years of oil and gas being taken from their soils. I scooped water from the pond that the people drink. It was smeared with crude oil.
“On behalf of the nation, I apologise to you. We will change for the better. We will not only build schools, hospitals and provide potable water for you; we will provide complete communities for you. We will work with the Rivers State government, Niger Delta Development Commission (NDDC), amnesty office and the Ministry of Niger Delta Affairs.”
The President lauded the President/Founder of Belema Oil Company, Jackrich Tein Jnr., an indigene of Kula, for his commitment to the development of Niger Delta.
The Pan-Niger Delta Forum (PANDEF) Chairman, Chief Edwin Clark, lauded the key stakeholders for the peaceful resolution of the crisis.
Clark, who was represented by his deputy, Dr. Godknows Igali, acknowledged the roles played by the Federal Government, people of the host communities, Belema oil company, the NNPC and the Federal Ministry of Petroleum Resources under Sylva.
The PANDEF chair said: “When the Group Managing Director of NNPC came here on September 28, he promised to grant all your requests, with steps now being taken to fulfil the promises. We are all winners. We have, by this struggle of the past two years, redefined the struggle for resource control.”
The Amayanabo of Belema, King Boudilion Ekiye Okor, told President Buhari that the OML-25 host communities insisted on active responsibilities for Belema oil company, before the impasse was resolved, stressing that the founder of the firm (Jackrich Tein Jnr.) made a difference with OML-55, which he took from Chevron and he would do much better with OML-25.
The monarch expressed satisfaction that a Kula son was now in charge of maintaining operations of OML-25, while pleading that, whenever SPDC wanted to divest from OML-25, Belema oil company should be considered.