By Johnbosco Agbakwuru, Abuja
Gombe State Governor, Inuwa Yahaya, yesterday, at a closed-door with President Muhammadu Buhari, appealed to him to prevail on the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation, NNPC, and the Department of Petroleum Resources, DPR, to begin oil and gas exploration in the Gongola basin.
The Governor also urged the President to come to the aid of the state in order to resettle the Internally Displaced Persons, IDPs, as a result of the Boko Haram onslaught and the ravaging flood that has affected two local government areas in the state, displacing people and creating gully erosion.
Speaking with State House correspondents after the meeting, Governor Yahaya said that oil and gas exploration in the area would trigger economic activities and create jobs for the states in the region.
According to him, “With the discovery of oil and gas in Gombe and Bauchi states, and specifically, in the whole of Gongola Basin, we seek to get the support of the federal government, so the pressure will be mounted on the Nigerian National Petroleum cooperation NNPC and the DPR for them to see to the fact that the exploitation oil and gas deposit that is available in Gombe and in fact the wider Gongola Basin is encouraged so that economic activities will be triggered, our people will have jobs and the Gombe will join the league of oil-producing states.”
The Governor said that one of the reasons for the meeting with the president was to show his solidarity over the way he (Buhari) has handed the COVID-19 pandemic, which he assured, would soon be a thing of the past.
He said, “My mission to Mr President is to show solidarity and compliments from the people of Gombe, especially from the way and manner he has been able to shoulder the big responsibility of managing this country, especially during the pandemic. We are even going out of the pandemic very soon.
“Just to congratulate and appreciative him for what he has been doing. It’s been quite long we met and I felt there is a need for us to meet and talk.
“Secondly, Gombe has been shouldering responsibility as regards IDPs and influx of people who because of the insurgency and displacement from the neighbouring states have relocated to Gombe. So, that puts a lot of stress on our resources both education, social environmental and what have you.
“And as a result, we are having a lot of issues and we need to share and seek guidance from Mr President as to how to manage the issues around insecurity and the people who have been displaced.
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“The third one is the issue of flood affecting the whole country. Much as we don’t have rivers around Gombe but the flood around the river banks of Gongola, which is covering two of the local government areas has equally affected us and also resettlement of most of our people.
“But most importantly, because Gombe is situated between the valley and because of poor practices and lack of proper environmental management, gullies all have developed.
“You might have seen in the last few weeks, the effect of gully erosion in Gombe state. So, erosion upset has really devastated the lives of our people and has really become a problem and there is a need for us to seek support from the federal government.
“As at the moment, there are 200 active gullies in Gombe which have affected the lives and livelihoods of a lot our people. So, we brought that to the notice of Mr President for him to see how best he could attend and render some help especially from the ministry of environment, and more importantly, through the federal government understanding with the World Bank via the water management and watershed project which Gombe has keyed in but is yet take off.
“Once we are able to get that, we hope our problem of gully erosions will be solved partially if not fully.”
On the number of people displaced by flood, the governor said “Of recent, in two local governments we had about 3,200 families that have been dislocated. But we have been trying to provide alternatives.
“At the moment, we are designing layouts from which we will relocate all resettlements that are on flood plains and on gullies which are normally susceptible to floods.
“Those that have been displaced by insurgency have resettled amongst our people. As far as the issue of displaced persons is concerned, neighbouring Borno and Yobe, we have an arrangement for them to settle with our people, so we don’t have IDPS camps per se. So, people have acclimatized and have gotten used to living with our people and they are doing very well.”