By Michael Eboh
Oil and Solid Minerals Producing Area Landlords’ Association of Nigeria, OMPALAN, yesterday, accused governors of oil-producing states of fuelling the crisis in the Niger Delta through constant interference in affairs of the communities.
Chairman, Board of Trustees, of OMPALAN Mr. Udo Azogu, in Abuja after an interactive meeting of leaders of South-South and South-East regions, argued that instead of fuelling crisis, oil producing state governments should focus on their primary constitutional responsibility of upholding the rule of law and deepening good governance by working in synergy with recognized organizations to achieve results.
In a statement, he said: “The situation where oil producing state governments encourage multiplicity of youth formations for egocentric reasons and meddle in oil company/host community relations that have been built and consolidated over the years, only help to deepen the crisis in the region.”
Azogu claimed the restiveness gained ascendancy in oil producing areas with attendant heavy toll on life and property largely because of the ambivalent stance of the elite.
According to him, the elites felt militancy was purely a youth problem and allowed the situation to escalate, noting that things fell apart when democratic institutions of governance that delivered good governance collapsed under the overbearing influence of the corrupt and subversive political class.
He stated that oil producing state governments must not only support the laws of the land which they swore to uphold, but aggressively defend the laws establishing oil-related palliative programmes such as the Oil Derivation Fund Commission, Niger Delta Development Commission, NDDC, Ministry of Niger Delta Affairs, Ecological Funds, Federal Government Amnesty Programmes, among others.
He said: “The stark reality on ground is that there is not much to justify the existence of these robust programmes in vulnerable host communities which bear the brunt of stiffening environmental challenges. It is the shared belief in OMPALAN that there cannot be military solution to the problems of the regions. We also support the view that no responsible government will fold its arms and watch the systematic destruction of the nation’s economic resources. It is in this regard that we appeal to our youths to sheathe the sword and support the rule of law so that we as elders of the regions can effectively provide the platform for a negotiated settlement.
“The association has developed a blueprint to the lingering crisis in oil producing regions. Our bottom-up proposal for durable peace in oil producing areas is designed to strengthen delivery chains of robust Federal Government palliative programmes to vulnerable host communities. It is also designed to shield the youths of oil producing areas from exploitation by aggrieved and subversive elements who stoke tension to settle political scores. Our proposal will also be extended to solid mineral producing areas.”