Why Anambra Must Be Included Among Oil Producing States – Ilouno

His Royal Majesty Igwe Dr. Emeka Ilouno is the leader and chairman of Elders Consultative Forum of Host Communities Of Nigeria (HOSCON), an umbrella body of oil and gas producing communities in 19 states of the country. In this with CHUKWUJEKWU ILOZUE, he laments what Anambra state loses as non-member even though oil and gas are prospected in the state. Excerpts:

You have been agitating for Anambra State to be included among oil producing States but the impression is that since the State does not produce oil, what have you achieved?

Well, we have achieved a lot; we know before then that a lot of oil is being prospected in Anambra State. The fact that the prospecting, we know that corruption in this country will make those who should speak look the other way. However, we found because of the love for the state that we can’t keep silent while things were going wrong. Like we made known, an Indian Company known as Sterling Global is prospecting oil seriously in Ogu Ikpele and Ogu Anaocha, two communities. And following up on the allegation, we have taken our letter of protest to them and asking them to do the needful.

We have also gone to Department of Petroleum Resources who are the ones supervising to alert them in case they claim they don’t know. Initially they said the company was not doing anything and we followed up with . What we call exploration is search and when you find you prospect. And in Anambra Sterling Global is prospecting oil and this oil is being piped to Delta State and carted away. There is a lot of night activities going on where tankers assembly in this area, in the night they are loaded with oil and this is oil bunkering and you will be surprised that some security agents stand where this is going on. They cannot say they don’t know what is going on.

In Enugu-Otu Orient Petroleum is prospecting oil and the volume of oil it is prospecting is up to 10,000 barrels per day which is the minimum required for recognition as oil producing state and this is being carted away in barges. As if that is not enough , in Omasi right now a giant gas plant is being mounted and pipes are being laid from Enugu-Otu to Omasi to feed the gas plant; and remember, it is not only petroleum, it is petroleum and gas. Anambra is noted for the volume of gas it has under the water.

So, for the fact that both gas and oil are being prospected in Anambra State, we are supposed to be given our due recognition. It is nothing personal because when all are given our due recognition NDDC will catch us as oil producing State and when they do that they will include us in their budget; when roads are tarred, be included, schools will be built and amenities extended to us. We also have

Ministry or Niger Delta Affairs that caters for oil producing areas and we will benefit from their budget, so there will be budgetary interventions and the accruable will come to us. Therefore, our fight is nothing personal but for our state to get its due share so that we can speed up development and make sure those dividends of democracy reach the grassroot. The governor is doing very well and he needs money to work. If more money is put in the coffers of Anambra State, he will perform wonders.

Then you are supposed to be doing this in collaboration with the state government?

Well, we have called the attention of the State Government. We are an NGO, we are not an arm of government just like you as an individual. When you see anything going wrong, you can shout out. We shout out so that whoever is deaf, whoever is blind, will see us and hear us that something is going wrong.

We have suffered enough and we have been deprived enough and enough should be enough. What is due to us should be given to us. I do not have to wait, you need to see the areas where oil wells are. Government cannot reach there, it is like armed robbers entering your house, except you say that armed robbers enter your house, how would the police know? So, what we are doing is to create awareness between our people and government so that government will wake up. Until government ask us to come and show them, we will show them, we won’t be afraid to show them. But governments don’t operate in bushes and swamps.

So, for the fact that gas is being prospected and gas plant is being mounted and more will come and gas will soon be piped from Omasi to Awka because here in Agu Awka a giant electricity generating facility that will use gas is being mounted. So, there is need for government to be more proactive, for government to pick up the alert we have sent out and then follow it up so that what is needful should be done. I tell you most times you don’t wait for governments because most times governments have other things that distract them. Their eyes might not be focused on the area you are looking at, they know a lot of money is shared at Abuja and they rush to Abuja to get their share whereas at our back yard something is happening. But when their attention is drawn to it, they will in turn draw the attention of the Federal

Government on it. May I remind you that our son Hon. Chu Chu Onyema who comes from Ogu-Ikpele and is a member of the National Assembly has also raised alarm about what I am saying now and the National Assembly, the 8th Assembly, set up a committee to look into the matter but unfortunately their term ran out before the committee completes its job. Probably the 9th Assembly will pick up that and investigate and it is by this nip any legal activity in the bud, force their arms to give us our full recognition. Lagos was also on the same route as us but today, Lagos has been declared full-fledged oil producing state, and we are not, whereas we are supposed to.

What happens to oil that Orient Petroleum is producing? Is it accounted for?

Yes, we have the records but it is not a state affair. The state invested in it. I give kudos to Orient because it is doing a lot beyond the oil they are prospecting. Orient Petroleum Resources is building a refinery at Umueri/ Nsugbe. Orient Petroleum is investing in our international airport, our cargo airport, it is investing in our gas plant and it is cooperating with a private individual to set up a gas plant, it is also involved in the power generating facility in Awka. The problem of Orient Petroleum is

that it is not loaded, it is cash-strapped, it needs that will partner with it that is why Ibeto is partnering with it to set up

the gas plant in the generation of electricity and it is partnering with the State Government to set up the Cargo airport. What we are calling is the Department of Petroleum Resources (DPR) to investigate and know exactly the quantity of oil it is prospecting and exporting and see if it is

enough. It is not enough the one starling oil is doing in Ogu Ikpele is not enough to give us what we want? So that, we and other members

of the community will benefit. As we speak we know that a few people are feeding fat on this problem but that is selfishness. We, host communities of Nigeria producing oil and gas are saying: give us our due recognition so that the state will share full dividends

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