By Festus Ahon
OIL and Gas producing communities of Egbema Kingdom, Warri North Local Government Area, Delta State, yesterday urged President Muhammadu Buhari to effect the direct payment of the 13% Derivation Funds to oil-bearing communities.
The communities, under the aegis of Egbema Oil Producing Communities, EOPC, in an open letter addressed to the President signed by their representatives and Coordinator, Dr Euyabarate Teacher, told Mohammadu Buhari to direct the appropriate government departments under to start the direct payment of the fund to the communities, as prescribed by the 1999 Constitution as amended.
The communities, who are within the OML 40 and 49 areas, in the letter, decried that their people have consistently lived in the most deplorable economic and social situation, despite the huge mineral resources they were contributing to the nation’s economy.
The communities, which includes; Ogbudugbudu, Opuama, Ogbinbiri, Tsekelewu/Polobubo, Adagbrasa and Abadegbene, listed the facilities within their domains as Olero, Opuekeba, Dibi Fields, Opuama flow stations, all operated by Chevron Nigeria Limited, CNL and the Nigerian Petroleum Development Company, NPDC.
Stressing the need for the Federal Government to immediately commence the payment of the fund to the communities where the oil resources were being drilled, they lamented that the current practice of paying to the state governments had brought hardship and degradation on the communities.
The communities in the letter said: “Based on the enormous contribution of Egbema Kingdom to the national economy, with little or nothing to show for it, we strongly demand with emphasis that Mr President should pay the 13% oil derivation fund to the oil-producing communities directly.
“We must note in this letter that available statistics clearly show that the Egbema Kingdom has been at the mercy of the yoke of underdevelopment. It is indeed lamentable that irrespective of the huge contributions from our kingdom, we still lack electricity, no motorable roads, no hospitals, and the water on which we defecate in the same water we drink.
“To underscore the urgent need for the money to be paid directly to the communities, the absence of medical facilities in our area has led to a very high mortality rate as pregnant women die frequently during delivery, due to the absence of qualified medical personnel like doctors and nurses.
“It is also very regrettable to inform you that these oil-producing communities of Egbema Kingdom have lost their flourishing fishing and farming industries, which were destroyed by the activities of international oil companies. The biting effect of oil exploration and exploitation cut across many thorny issues like corrosion of roofing sheets, reduction of life expectancy, among others.
“Sir, according to the 1999 Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, as amended, the 13% Derivation Fund is the first line charge of the federal account. It is therefore painful and illegal to allocate it through the state governors, who are the third party to the oil-producing communities”.