The Isoko Professionals Association, TIPA, has decried “the lack of infrastructure in the two local governments of Isokoland” in Delta State, despite its huge contribution to the Nigerian economy through its rich oil deposits.
In a statement in Lagos by its President, Deacon Martins Ugbegwo, the association noted that the only visible achievement of the Isoko ethnic group for feeding the Nigerian nation with the God-given oil wealth for over 60 years is poverty, which is at the root of the violence in various Isoko communities.
The association, a non-partisan group consisting of professionals in various fields of endeavour from Isoko North and South local governments, insisted that government and oil-producing companies have consistently ignored the Isoko nation.
The group added that Isoko nation had been extremely peaceful and had provided the friendliest working environment for oil and gas exploration and production companies for too a long time.
“Despite having huge oil deposits in the various communities, contributing to the country’s revenue generation, the Isoko nation cannot be said to have benefited from Nigeria as a country by way of infrastructure development,” the statement added.
As a way of addressing this neglect, the association called on the National Assembly to also contribute its quota by ensuring visible, pragmatic and result-driven provisions in the Petroleum Industry Bill (PIB) currently before it.
Such provisions, according to the association, will take care of neglected oil-bearing communities through ploughing back of the proposed portion of the taxed profits of oil-producing companies, which may not really guarantee anything, especially in a low oil price regime as we currently have.
Also, ensuring that at least eight percent of all cost incurred for petroleum operations, which is more sustainable, is also immediately ploughed back directly on development projects in the communities.
The Isoko Professionals argued that after all, oil project cost also generates 7.5percent Value Added Tax (VAT) revenue to government besides 20 percent onshore royalty and 85 percent tax on profits, including dozens of fees and other charges that Isokoland currently gives to Nigeria.
It also called on all legislators from all oil-producing states, including states in the North where oil has just been discovered, to first insert clauses for a more certain cost-based consideration for host communities on in the PIB before thinking of complementing same with a profit-based contribution by oil-producing companies.