By Nwabueze Okonkwo
ONITSHA—Aggrieved oil-producing communities in Anambra State, on the platform of Host Communities of Nigeria Producing Oil and Gas, HOSCON, yesterday, embarked on a peaceful demonstration against what they termed “continued exclusion of Anambra from the oil-producing states in Nigeria, despite its declaration as an oil-producing state by former President Goodluck Jonathan on August 30, 2012.”
They said it was ridiculous that in spite of the commercial quantity of oil and gas being explored in the state and sold outside the state, the Nigeria National Petroleum Corporation, NNPC, and Department of Petroleum Resources, DPR, are yet to put Anambra in the gazette of oil-producing states to enable it benefit from the 13 percent oil derivation formula.
The demonstrators carried placards with inscriptions as “We are Anambra, we are oil-producing state’; ‘DPR declare us so,” “Anambra is qualified and deserved to be included among oil-producing states;” “Stop oil bunkering in Anambra State;” “Give us our 13 percent derivation;” “Elf Oil, what is happening at OPL 817 upgrade?” “Sterling Global is stealing Anambra silly” and “DPR confirms the activities of oil prospecting companies in Anambra,” among others.
They commenced their protest march from NNPC Mega Station, Awka and ended at the Government House, Awka, led by state chairman of HOSCON, Anthony Chiokwe.
adding that the NNPC and DPR should confirm the presence of Sterling Oil Global on Anambra oil fields.
Flanked by some other notable personalities in the state, including Mrs Joy Igboka, founding member of HOSCON and Dr Emeka Ilouno, Chairman, Elders Advisory Council, HOSCON, Anambra, among others. Chiokwe further declared: “all these oil firms had operated in the state for seven years, adding, such a period was sufficient to have earned the state full recognition as an oil producing state with full benefits”.
He contended that since that August 30 declaration, Orient Petroleum had been prospecting oil in Enugu-Agulu Otu, just as other oil companies have entered into the terrain prospecting oil in the state.
“While OPL 815, 816 and 817 are allocated to two main companies, Sterling Global has since 2013 been exploring oil in Ogwu-Ikpele and Ogwu-Aniocha communities of Ogbaru Local Government Area of the state, adding, the company at Ogwu-Ikpele not only prospect oil, but flares gas, which are seriously degrading the environment”.
“Most disturbing in the activities of these oil firms is that they drill in Anambra and pipe the crude to Delta and Imo States, from where it is barged and exported, making it look as if the oil is prospected from Delta or Oguta in imo state”.
Chiokwe said that the oil rig/platform of Sterling Global is still standing in Ogwu-Ikpele, even as DPR had continued to deny the activities of Sterling Global in the state.