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Business News of Sunday, 1 January 2023


Eight Niger Delta communities lament neglect

Niger Delta map Niger Delta map

No fewer than eight oil-producing communities in Rivers State, have raised the alarm over alleged neglect of their communities despite their contribution to the national economy and the 13 per cent derivative fund allocated to their states.

The communities are: Odiemerenyi in Ahoada East, Bomu in Gokana, George-Pepple in Bonny, Idama Ekulama in Akuku Toru, Oyigbo Urban in Oyigbo, Umuechem in Etche, Akpabu in Emohua and Ali-Ohuru in Omoku, Ogba/Egbema/Ndoni Local Government Areas of Rivers State.

In a communiqué sent to Sunday PUNCH after a town hall meeting organised by Connected Development in Port Harcourt, the communities called on Federal Government to provide basic amenities in the rural areas.

According to them, the affected communities are currently being plagued by dilapidated health centres, lack of potable water, and absence of electricity, including dilapidated internal roads.

The Community Development Chairman of Umuechem in Etche, Godson Nwairoegbu, decried that his community has no motorable road or hospital, despite hosting many oil and gas wells.

He said, “Umuechem is the second place where oil was discovered in commercial quantity after Oloibiri. We need the state federal and local government to help us, we have no roads, electricity, health centres, etc”

Similarly, the CDC of Ali-Ohuru community in Omoku, Mela Ake, lamented that oil spills from facilities operated by multinationals in the area, over the years have contaminated the underground water.

“We have a health centre but with inadequate facility. The building itself needs complete rehabilitation. Our internal roads are in disrepair. Omoku-Elele road is in a bad shape. Oil spills over the years has contaminated the underground water.”

Joseph Nwakwue, an oil and gas professional with Zera Advisory and Consulting, had once decried the misappropriation of the derivation fund by Niger Delta state governments.

Nwakwue blamed the situation on a lacuna in the constitution concerning the use of the fund.

On his part, Ken Henshaw, the Executive Director, We the People, a non-governmental organisation in the Niger Delta region, said, “The constitutional provision for 13 per cent derivation states that the fund should be used for the development of the oil-producing communities.

The constitutional lacuna is that it makes the money pass through the state. What has happened to this 13 per cent derivation is what has happened to the local government fund paid to the joint account of state and local governments.”

He added, “What the states have done is that they have used the13 per cent derivation in form of surplus for all sorts of purposes, none of the states gives up to 60 per cent of the fund to the oil-producing communities. There is this funny sharing quota that deprived the oil-producing communities of growth.”