By Festus Ahon
UGHELLIâ€”A constitu-tional lawyer and human rights activist, Dr. Akpo Mudiaga-Odje, has called on the Federal Government to abrogate the illegal Excess Crude Oil Account and pay all revenues accruingÂ from the sale of crude oil and gas into the Federation Account in line with Section 162 (10) of the 1999 constitution.
He also told President Umaru Musa Yarâ€™Adua to direct all Federal Government-owned oil related ministries, parastatals and agencies, especially the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation, (NNPC) and the Petroleum Technology Development Fund (PTDF) to immediately relocate their headquarters to their areas of operation, preferably in the creeks of the Niger Delta.
Odje made the call in a statement he made available to newsmen at the weekend in his home town, Evwreni, Ughelli North Local Government Area, Delta State.
He opined that similar directives should be given to all multinational oil companies to also relocate theirÂ headquarters to their areas of operation in the riverine areas and hinterland of the region. He urged the Federal Government to â€œrole out comprehensive employment schemes with competitive salaries for both skilled and unskilled youths of the region, including those who have just surrendered their arms.
â€œRefrain from passing into law the now deformed Petroleum Industry Bill with a view of setting aside a substantial percentage i.e. 60% as derivation to the oil producing communities as royalties for oil and gas exploration in their areas.
Increase the percentage of derivation to 25% pursuant to proviso to Section 162(2) of the 1999 Constitution.
â€œImmediate banning of gas flaring any where in the region. Every state of the Niger DeltaÂ should set up its state oil commission with a minimum of 50% of their 13% derivation as funding and such funding must be paid at source directly to the commissions by the office of the Accountant General of the Federation”.
â€œThe state oil commissions should also be charged with the responsibilities of rehabilitating the youths. Comprehensive implementation of the undoctored version of the Niger Delta Technical Report in all its ramifications of which amnesty is but a tiny aspect.â€
According to him, if these suggestions are religiously implemented, the people of the region, especially the Nigerian state, will witness unprecedented development and peace in the polity and urged multi-national oil companies operating in the area to pay all their outstanding financial contributions to the Niger Delta Development Commission in the U.S dollars.
He said:Â â€œEven though our reservationsÂ regarding the constitutionality or otherwise of the right of Mr. Presidentâ€™s Proclamation of Amnesty on June 25, 2009, remains extant in our minds, we nevertheless hasten to commend the genuine freedom fighters who turned up and embraced the offer of amnesty.
â€œThe action of these youthful heroes has exhibited and advertised to all and sundry that their agitation was not only legitimate but indeed that they are willing whenever called upon to make necessary sacrifices for the corporate interest of the nation towards finding lasting solutions to the Niger Delta question.
â€œHaving kept to their sides of the bargain within a record time of six months, it therefore, behoves the federal government to jump-start aggressive and gigantic infrastructural development of the region as well as initiate credible and sustained empowerment schemes as well as skill acquisition centres for our people within the next six months as well.â€