By Henry Umoru
ABUJA- THE Senate, yesterday threw out a motion seeking to recognize Kogi State as oil-producing state.
According to the Senate, it lacked such constitutional powers to go into such a proposal.
The rejection followed observations by lawmakers on the impossibility of the Senate to recognise Kogi as one of the oil producing states through what it described as the adoption of a mere motion sponsored by Senator Isaac Alfa, PDP-Kogi East.
Efforts by the Senators to convince the sponsor to withdraw the motion didn’t yield result as he declared that “I have made the motion and I’m not ready to withdraw it”.
The Senate has, however, urged the governors of Anambra, Dr. Willie Obiano, Enugu, Mr. Ifeanyi Ugwuanyi and Kogi State, Alhaji Yahaya Bello to resolve the communal crises among the various communities in the states.
The upper chamber has also advised the communities of Ibaji, Igga, and Aguleri out of Kogi, Enugu and Anambra States to sheath their swords and allow peace to reign while the National Boundary Commission delineate the correct boundaries.
The Senate also urged the federal government to direct the commission to immediately release its report on the determination of the boundaries contiguous to OPLs 915 & 916.
Similarly, it asked the government to ensure that the displaced communities in the disputed area due to the hostilities were allowed to return to their ancestral homes and compensated for their loss.
Furthermore, the Upper chamber directed its committees on States and Local Governments, Petroleum Upstream, National Security and Intelligence to ensure compliance with the above resolutions.
Presenting the motion,entitled, “Need to recognize Kogi State as an Oil Producing State ” before its rejection, Alfa informed that oil exploration commenced in Ibaji as far back as 1952 by three companies -Shell BP now known as Shell Petroleum Development Company, SPDC; Elf, now Total Fina Elf and AGIP Energy.
He said the companies collectively drilled 25 exploration wells, two appraisal wells and eight core drill wells in the entire Anambra Basin out of which majority of them fall within Kogi State with facts made available through a letter,dated November 21, 2003 to the Nigerian President by the former manager, drilling (NPDC-NNPC), Engr. Sam A. Uchola.
According to him, “The Senate be Informed that Oil exploration commenced in Ibaji as far back as 1952 in the villages of Odeke, Echeno, Ihile, Anocha/Uchuchu, Omabo, Ikah, Iregwu and Ujeh, all in Ibaji community of the present day Ibaji Local Government Area of Kogi State by three oil companies namely; Shell BP (now SPDC), Elf (now Total Fina Elf) and AGIP Energy;
“Aware that the companies collectively drilled 25 exploration wells, 2 appraisal wells and 8-core drill wells in the entire Anambra Basin out of which majority of the wells fall within Kogi State as these facts were made possible through a letter to the President, Federal Republic of Nigeria by the former manager, drilling (NPDC-NNPC), Engr Sam A. Uchola date 21st November, 2003;
“Further informed that the exploration of Oil activities in Kogi State and part of Anambra basin was later abandoned until 18th July, 2001 when the Executive Governor of Kogi State, Late Prince Abubakar Audu wrote to the Group Managing Direction of NNPC, Abuja to remind him of earlier discovery of crude oil at Odeke, Echeno, and Anocha communities in Ibaji Local Government of Kogi State.”
In his contribution, Senator Chukwuka Utazi (PDP, Enugu North), observed that the Senate had earlier deliberated on the matter and mandated its Committee on Petroleum Upstream to liaise with the National Boundary Commission, delineate the boundaries of the three affected states and report to the Senate.
Senator Utazi then urged Senator Alfa to withdraw the motion and allow the Committee already assigned to do the job to committee its work and forward report of its findings to the chamber for further legislative action.
Also opposed to the motion, Senator Magnus Abe, APC-Rivers South East explained that the Senate, in accordance with Section 162 of the Constitution has no power to recognise Kogi, which has never contributed anything to the Federation account as oil producing state.
However, the chairman of the Senate Committee on Petroleum (Upstream), Senator Tayo Alasoadura, APC-Ondo Central, pleaded for two weeks to submit report of the committee, saying members had met twice and also had discussions with the boundary commission on the matter.
Also, the Deputy Senate President, Ike Ekweremadu sought for the withdrawal of the motion since the upper legislative chamber could not by a motion declare Kogi an oil producing state, adding that the Committee on Petroleum (Upstream), handling the matter was also yet to submit its report.
Ekweremadu said, “Our Order Paper today is very heavy with items; I think we should do ourselves a word of good to advise our friend and colleague to humbly withdraw the motion so that we can look at the other issues on the course list (Order Paper).
“I will like to align myself with Senator Chukwuka Utazi. This matter has been visited, and I had expected him to either speak to Senator Dino who is a more experienced senator to give him proper guidance or even seek the guidance of the Rules and Business Committee on what has happened on this matter.
“But the truth of the matter is that even if we had not discussed the matter before, we cannot by any stroke of imagination come up with a motion to declare any state oil producing, otherwise we can wake up one day and say that the whole of Nigeria is oil producing. So, I want to appeal to my colleague to withdraw the motion.
“Since the National Boundary Commission is already handling the matter as he admitted in the body of his motion, we cannot take over the job of the Boundary Commission.”
Meanwhile, following the consideration of clause the clause by clause of the Report of the Committee on Banking, Insurance and other Financial Institutions by the Chairman, Senator Rafiu Ibrahim, PDP, Kwara South, the Senate confirmed Hon. Omolola Kuburat Abiola Edewor as the Executive Director (Corporate Services) of the Nigeria Deposit Insurance Corporation (NDIC)
Also yesterday, the Senate after the clause consideration of the FCT Health Insurance Agency (Establishment, etc) Bill, 2019 (SB. 668) by the Chairman, Senate Committee on Health, Senator Olanrewaju Tejuoso, APC, Ogun Central, read for the third time and passed the FCT Health Insurance Agency (Establishment, etc) Bill, 2019 (SB. 668).
In his remarks, Deputy Senate President, Senator Ike Ekweremadu said, “I congratulate Senator Philip Aduda and the members of the Committee for ensuring the passage of this Bill. It is important for us to ensure that we have quality healthcare for our people. It is one of our responsibilities as the House of Assembly of the FCT. We have served that purpose today and I would like to thank everyone for ensuring that this Bill was passed today so that going forward, we can ensure that we implement this Bill to provide quality healthcare to the residents of the FCT.”
Also yesterday, the Senate after clause by clause consideration of the FCT Primary Health Care Board Bill, 2019 (SB. 669) as presented by the Chairman, Senate Committee on Primary Health, Senator Mao Ohuabunwa, PDP, Abia North, read for the third time and passed the FCT Primary Health Care Board Bill, 2019 (SB. 669).
Speaking after the passage, the Deputy Senate President, Senator Ike Ekweremadu said, “We have passed another Bill relating to Health Care, and this time it is to provide a report to deal with the Primary Health Care. Primary Health Care is very essential to health care anywhere in the world – the basic thing we need to do is to provide health services for the residents of the FCT.
“I will like to thank and congratulate you and I do hope that the report that comes forth following this Bill will live up to the expectations of this Senate to provide quality health care for the residents of FCT.”