The National Conference's committee report on Energy has frowned at the management of amnesty programme for the Niger Delta saying that it was fashioned to benefit only a “few young men”.
According the committee's report 'presented yesterday at plenary by the governor of Oyo State, Senator Rasheed Ladoja, the amnesty programme has failed to effectively settle Niger Delta communities.
The report said, “In fact, the amnesty settlement has settled only a few young men in the Niger Delta; it has yet to settle the Niger Delta communities”.
The report called for more community participation in oil and gas issues, saying, “It is only fair therefore that Niger Delta communities in oil producing blocks under divestment be given equity participation in the new entries buying up the IOC’s interest.
According to the committee, since the derivation revenue allocation that accrued to the states over the years had had little or no impact on the producing communities, who must now endure the neglect of new masters, 60 years after enduring the neglect of both the foreign masters and a succession of state governments.”
Also, the committee recommended that 10 per cent equity be given to host communities in the oil and gas sector. It stated that, “the current divestment is bringing many indigenous operators into the sector. Accordingly, we feel that oil-producing communities, who can find the finance, and are sufficiently well, organised, can and should be given equity of at least 10 per cent by the indigenous entities.
“For the communities to be overlooked by government that has the right of consent to these deals does not make good sense for business or security of facilities.”
The committee further called on government to assert itself in addressing oil theft in the country.
According to its findings on oil theft, Nigeria loses about 350,000 barrels of oil per day, or about $35m a day, saying that oil theft has “reached an alarming proportion”.
It was for this, that the former governor of Kebbi State, Adamu Aliero called on the conference to mandate the federal government to ensure that oil theft was stopped and the loss of revenue equally stopped.
The former governor, who called for more drastic measures against oil theft recommended that oil barges arrested should be sunk in the middle of the sea to serve as deterrent
On the state of downstream assets, the committee recommended that, “government should, without delay, institute a comprehensive independent technical audit of the entire national products handling/storage/transmission system, and initiate a phased implementation of the findings”.
It also believes that “a root-to-branch audit of the entire PPMC logistical system and assets integrity be carried out as a matter of urgency, and appropriate remedies mapped out for its phased
implementation”, just as it asked that the “National Petroleum Assists Management Corporation (NAPAMCorp) and Nigerian Petroleum Management Company Limited (NAPAMCO), be merged for greater clarity of purpose”.
Former governor of River State, Peter Odili, who lauded the recommendations of the Committee on Energy, supported the recommendation that local communities should participate in oil exploration in their localities.
Odili further called for the review of the Petroleum Act, which came into existence since 1969. This, he said is to ensure equity and justice to the local community, stating that what is best suited for the development and exploration is to ensure the political will and the right investment.
The former governor further said that other arms of government should participate in the development of the power sector, while the job of improving the power sector should not be left to the federal government alone.
However, other delegates that spoke on the privatisation exercise, expressed concern over total privatisation of the power sector by the federal government, while advocating the government to play a greater role in power generation and distribution instead of leaving same to investors.
According to the delegates, government should continue to fund energy generation, while also exploring other avenues to generate power through clean and renewable energy sources, adding that government should invest more in generation and distribution of energy.
Also some of the delegates called for the stoppage of continued importation of electricity generating sets into Nigeria, stating that it could be that some of the companies involved in the importation of generating sets could be involved in the vandalising of electricity facilities in Nigeria.
The delegates complained that the fumes from generating sets could affect the health of Nigerians by causing respiratory damages, especially in the markets.
An elder statesman, Ayo Adebanjo however objected to the recommendation stating that to ban the importation of generators into Nigeria is to license darkness to Nigerians.