Stakeholders from the Nine States of the Niger Delta region led by the Speaker of the Bayelsa State House of Assembly, Hon. Kombowei Benson on Wednesday explained reasons why the repeated anger of the people of the region are directed towards the Federal Government and oil multinational operating in the region.
The Stakeholders,made up of members of the State House of Assembly, Representatives of the Civil Society Organisations and the Media, argued that though they support the amicable resolution of the contentious issues in the region, the Federal Government is held culpable by the people of the region due to its protection of Oil Multinationals instead of protecting the peoples’ right and the enviroment.
The concerned stakeholders, in a communique issued on Wednesday at the end of a two-days Training worlshop for Bayelsa Legislators on Best Practice Mechanisms for Natural Resources Governance organised by the Centre for Enviroment,Human Rights and Development(CEHDR) in conjunction with Amnesty International, argued that the action of the Federal Government, they have skewed nature of resource ownership and excluded the Niger Delta Oil Bearing Communities, poor accountability and transparency in the award of oil blocks and contracts.
The communique, which was signed by the Bayelsa Assembly Speaker,Hon. Kombowei Benson and read by the Leader, Hon. Peter Akpe, stated that “the Federal Government has shown more commitment towards the protection of oil companies that protecting the peoples right and enviroment. Noting that in the Niger Delta, government has reduced security to merely securing the oil facilities.”
“Militarisation of the region in pursuit of security has led to increased insecurity and heightened tension in the region. Participants resolved that the regulatory agencies be empowered to end dependence on oil companies and there is urgent need to streanline the functions of the multiple regulatory agencies in the oil and gas sector to eliminate conflct of interest which give oil companies Lee way to continue degrading the enviroment,thereby defeating the purposes for which the agencies were created.”
” That the constitution be amended to give state legislators oversight powers over activities of the oil companies operating in their domain in order to regulate their activities and protect their local environment. That Environmental Impact Assessment and other laws avalable for environmental protection should be diligently enforced.EIAs should be made transparent,participatory and accountable in accordance with the provisions of the laws governing them.”
“That Communities be enlightened on environmental and human rights and responsibilities by government and civil society. That there should be an urgent and speedy passage of the Petroleum Industry Bill as a panacea for dousing the current spate of agitations in the oil producing communities.”