By Festus Ahon
UGHELLIâ€”THE Facilitator of the Niger Delta Democratic Union, NDDU, Dr. Akpo Mudiaga-Odje, has commended the Federal Government for the unconditional release of MEND leader, Mr. Henry Okah, from detention.
He declared that the release of Okah was a show of governmentâ€™s determination and sincerity in facilitating the reconciliation process in the Niger Delta tragedy.
Odje, who made the commendation in a statement he personally signed and made available to newsmen yesterday said:Â â€œAll along, we have watched with admiration the courage, steadfastness and firmness with which Okah and his counsel, our respected Chief Femi Falana, had fought relentlessly within the law to get his justified unconditional release.
â€œAs for the process of rehabilitation, we venture to ask the Federal Government to pressure all the oil producing states of the Niger Delta to set up their respective state oil commissions for those who have not done so; and the oil commissions should be saddled with the duty of rehabilitating our youths.
â€œThese commissions should be given at least 50% of the derivation accruing to the states, including any from the so-called Excess Crude Oil Account and such funds are to be paid directly as a first line charge from the office of the Accountant-General of the Federation to the commissions in order to obviate bureaucratic delays and logistic problems in their administration.
â€œWith that kind of arrangement, our youths will be in a position to be rehabilitated. And any other reformatory and reconciliatory projects will be guaranteed to last long, in view of structural and legal foundations of the commissions.
â€œAt this time of the federal governmentâ€™s desire to return peace to the region, and if it is fair in that regard, it should immediately do some, if not all, of the following:
â€œEvery state in the Federal Republic of Nigeria be permitted by law to control its resources; abrogation and repeal of all laws that expropriate the rights of the people to control their resources, such as Territorial Waters Act, Cap.T4 Laws of the Federation of Nigeria, 2004.
â€œExclusive Economic Zone Act, Cap.E17 Laws of the Federation of Nigeria, 2004. Land Use Act, Cap.L5 Laws of the Federation of Nigeria, 2004. Interpretation Act, Cap.I23 Laws of the Federation of Nigeria, 2004. Oil Pipelines Act, Cap.07 Laws of the Federation of Nigeria, 2004. Petroleum Act, Cap.P10 Laws of the Federation of Nigeria, 2004. Minerals and Mining Act, Cap.M12 Laws of the Federation of Nigeria, 2004.
â€œNational Inland Waterways Authority Act, Cap.N47 Laws of the Federation of Nigeria, 2004. The Federal Environmental Protection Agency Act, Cap.F10 Laws of the Federation of Nigeria (but now repealed and replaced by the National Environmental Standards and Regulations Enforcement Agency (Establishment) Act, 2007, which restricts application of safety standards to the oil industryâ€.
Speaking further, he also called for the appointment of a full-fledged Minister of Petroleum Resources from the South-South and the banning of gas flaring in the Niger Delta completely.
He added that all oil companies should relocate their headquarters to their areas of operation in the South-South, preferably in the creeks where they have their flow stations.
According to him, the federal government, as personified by President Umaru Musa Yarâ€™Adua, should comply with the NDDC Act, 2000 by paying all its 15% statutory allocation, including all arrears since July 2000 thereof, forthwith.