By Emman Ovuakporie & Johnbosco Agbakwuru
ABUJA—ATTEMPTS made by some members of the House of Representatives yesterday to ensure that the Federal Government includes Anambra, Enugu and Kogi States as oil producing states generated controversy in the House.
Three members of the House, Tony Nwoye, (Anambra), Patrick Asadu (Enugu) and Emmanuel Egwu (Kogi), had in a joint motion, pressed that the House should urge the Federal Government “to declare Kogi, Anambra and Enugu States as oil producing states since exploration/mining activities have begun in the Basin since 2012.”
But some members stood against the motion, explaining that since the commercial viability of the oil and gas deposits in Anambra Basin had not been determined, it was not proper to declare the three states as oil producing states.
Specifically, the member representing Konshisha/Vandekiya Federal Constituency of Benue State, Herman Hembe said that there was the issue of determining which state has the mineral deposits between Kogi and Anambra states and that it was not proper to declare the states oil producing states when the disputes had not been resolved.
His position was supported by the Chairman House Committee on Rules and Business, Emmanuel Orker-Jev who incidentally is also from Benue State.
This generated controversy especially when Hembe moved a motion to delete two out of the three prayers by the sponsors of the motion but later denied one of his positions.
After a protracted controversy which made the House presided over by the Speaker, Yakubu Dogara to step down the motion pending the resolution of some of the issues, the House finally resolved to set up an ad-hoc committee to determine the commercial viability of the oil and gas deposits in the Anambra Basin.
The House explained that it was “in order to optimise the commercial mining in the Basin where hydrocarbon activities began in 2012, for the benefits of the three states and to increase oil revenue for the country and resolve all outstanding boundary issues between Anambra, Kogi and Enugu States.”
Moving the motion entitled, “Need to declare Kogi, Enugu and Anambra States as Oil Producing States”, Egwu noted the concerted efforts by the Federal Government in prospecting for oil deposits in various parts of the country in the hope of increasing domestic production.
He said, “Government is fully aware of already explored and determined huge oil and gas deposits in commercial quantities in Anambra Basin, which cuts across Ibaji Area, Idah-1 , Alade-l, Atu-l , Inni-1 in Kogi State; Eziagulu Otu, Enugwu Otu, Nzam, Ezi-Anam, Anaku, Omor in Anambra State and Igga, Ojo, Uzo Uwani Areas in Enugu State.
“The failure to optimally explore this already established huge deposits in the Anambra Basin which would generate social and economic activities in the Basin has caused disaffection and crisis across those bordering states.”
He explained that the crisis had occasionally led to bloodshed amongst citizens in the border corridors, where the oil is in high commercial quantity.
He said, “Further aware that between 1952 and 1986, three companies, namely Shell BP (now Shell Petroleum Development Company (SPDC), Elf (now Total Fina Elf) and Agip Energy had dug 25 exploration wells in this Basin but abandoned them due to the Government policy then that these deposits are to be for strategic reserve;
“Equally aware that OPL 901 and OPL 902 (previously OPL 444) were all abandoned in the region to waste despite NNPC /NPDC on their own having carried out seismic activities in the Basin in parts of Kogi, Enugu and Anambra States with the same results.”
Egwu expressed concerns that there have been lingering boundary demarcation case before the National Boundary Commission between Anambra, Enugu and Kogi States as ordinarily peace loving neighbours have had to resort to violent actions against each other owing to the inaction of the Government.
He said, “Cognizant that Oriental Resources Plc has, since 2012, been prospecting on OPL 915 and OPL 916, derivable from the three adjoining States of Kogi, Enugu and Anambra state,” he said.
“These have not been commercially mined as it is still awaiting Oil Mining License (OML) from the Department of Petroleum Resources (DPR) years after former President Goodluck Jonathan flagged off the operations of Oriental Petroleum Resources.”
He further explained that the declaration of Kogi, Anambra and Enugu States as oil producing States will not in any way jeopardize the on-going field tracing and provisional boundary demarcation between the States by the National Boundary Commission but will rather aid in determining the percentage of derivation accruable to the three States.
However, Hembe said the boundary adjustment should be the focus since it was possible that a state already captured as an oil producing state could loose the title if boundary adjustment is finalised.
Hembe adopted the prayer that an Ad-hoc Committee should be set up to determine the available quantity of oil deposit before the declaration, a position he later denied which threw the House into pandemonium for over forty minutes, a situation that led the Speaker Hon. Yakubu Dogara who was presiding to call for the replay of the tape so as to resolve the controversy.
As the Deputy Majority Leader who is from Kogi State, Buba Jibril opposed the position of Hembe and Orker- Jerv, Kingsley Chinda (PDP Rivers) and Rotimi Akimtoye maintained that Hembe was misleading the House.
The Minority Leader, Leo Ogor (PDP Delta) explained that for a state to be declared an oil producing state, it must have an oil well which is able to produce 10,000 barrels per day, adding that the ad-hoc committee should be able to meet with DPR and determine the quantity of Oil in these states.
Hon. Kingsley Chinda (PDP Rivers) reminded his colleagues that the last assembly declared Anambra an Oil producing state saying that the Oil belt cuts across the entire three states in question.
Jones Oyerere (PDP Imo) reminded his colleagues that there was nothing wrong with lawmakers drawing the attention of government to an issue that was national and for the well-being of its citizens.