Press statement by the Niger Delta activists forum: urgent need to temporarily halt the 2020 marginal field bid round to determine the safety and security of host communities via an environmental impact assessment, giving right of first refusal and concessionary rights of participation in the bid process to host communities

Press Statement
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Date: 12-07-2020

Good morning gentlemen of the press, comrades and brothers in the struggle.

Precisely on July, 2, 2020, we woke up to a publication by the department of petroleum resources advertising the marginal field bid round 2020.

We have elected to communicate relevant authorities, for two major reasons;

A. Prevailing concerns over safety and security of oil and gas hosts community dwellers and the urgent need for an immediate environmental impact assessment.

B. The consultion, inclusion of host communities, granting of right of first refusal and concessionary rights of participation to host communities.

It is important to State at this point, that, the increasing reason for emphasis on the need for host communities consultation, granting of right of first refusal and concessionary rights of participation is that;

1. For the past past ten years or thereabout, there has been massive earth tremors (occasionally) within and around many hosts communities (the entire twenty communities in Engenni, all of Okordia/Zarama, Patani, the entire Ndokwa ethnic nation, all of Ogoni land etc) linked to exploitation activities, which usual wrecks massive destruction of properties and leaves trauma on several hosts community dwellers. This we believe are the initial signs of an earthquake which threatens extinction of our lands and people. Meaning that Nigeria may wake up one day to find, that these communities are no more, swallowed by an earthquake.

It is very concerning and worrisome because the principal duty of any government as provided in our constitution (referred to as directive principal of state) is the protection of lives and properties. Owing to the above, we no longer feel safe nor protected by the government of the federal republic of Nigeria who instead of ordering and immediate environmental impact assessment (ElA) and detailed probe to ascertain the remote and immediate causes of these tremors are continuing the bid process for more exploitation of oil and gas, thereby exposing us to further dangers.

Item 4.0 of the guidelines as published by the department of petroleum resources outlines a six points objective for this current bid round, as has been for every other one(s) in the past.

Item 4.0 (IV) makes reference to promotion of indigenous participations to engender skills and technology transfer while 4.0 (V) talks about creating opportunity to engage high level technically competent Nigerians.

It is sad to note that for an exercise of this magnitude designed to shore up national revenue, mainly drawing the resource in context from the Niger Delta geographical environment, doest not respect nor consider the Niger Delta as deserving of concessionary rights in this exercise.

It becomes increasingly provocative, when even the process as detailed in item 6.2 of the guideline is clearly violated in the non fulfillment of carrying out town hall meeting which are designed to make the locals feel carried along and not just the businessman.

How do you license an asset aboriginally passed down to us by our forebears and we are not put in the know.

Why are we continuously, asked to vacate or forfeit our ancestral lands for oil exploitation, to be undertaken by some one we don’t know even without giving us , right of first refusal or extending any concessionary right of participation and you tell us, to bid with equal rights and criteria like every other person.

The continuous invocation of the land use act to the exclusion of the land owners whose rights predates the 1979 land use act, is viewed as an instrument of oppression by the government to perpetuate oppression.

OUR DEMANDS

1. The current ongoing marginal field bid round – 2020 should be temporarily put on hold, to fully accommodate and integrate growing resentment and frustration over the noninclusive, non-consultative nature of this process.

2. The honourable minister and the ministry of petroleum affairs should immediately initiate fresh environmental impact assessment within and around hosts communities, with the aim of ascertaining the safety or otherwise of continued oil exploitation activities within house areas.

3. Critical stakeholders consultation with regional stakeholders and the communities hosting these fields for their inputs.

4. The honourable minister through the approval of the president of the federal republic of Nigeria should institute a twenty percent concessionary quota for host communities participation, upholding same concessions in the bid fees and costs.

SECURITY ADVANTAGES.

It is public knowledge that the issue of pipeline vandalism and oil bunkering is one major factor bedeviling the oil and gas sector. This is largely, because the host communities feel no sense of ownership of these critical assets and facilities neither are they stakeholders by any sense of imagination.

If hosts communities are inclusively integrated, majority of the current challenges of bunkering and vandalism would have been effectively taken care of.

Secondly, a fresh environmental impact assessment would not only guarantee the safety of the locals but also of the multi billion dollars investments from any disaster owing to continued deliberate neglect.

In summary what we are saying in essence is that, because the oil and gas exploitation consequences of acid rains, polluted air, water and land are exclusive and local to the oil bearing communities and not Nigeria as a whole, certain exclusive rights as stated above should also be accorded us without negotiation.

Consequently, we think it has become very necessary to help the honourable minister for petroleum save cost, in going from one host community to the other and also help him, broker this most necessary interface, for the safety and development of our nation.

To enable the forgoing, we have decided to pay the honourable minister for petroleum, a friendly consultative meeting led by comrade success Jack, with a five hundred (500) man delegation from the Niger Delta as follows:

Date:

Time: 1:00pm

Venue: your office.

Please consider that we have written you this letter in the best interest of our nation and her citizens in the affected region.

FOR THE NIGER DELTA PEOPLE,

Comrade Success Jack

National President.

Comrade Kennedy Tabuko

National Director, Community Health And Environment

Comrade Hezekiah Silas Olu

Chairman,Niger Delta Activists forum,FCT Chapter.

Comrade (Hon) Ogar Emmanuel Oko (Cross River State ,PRO.

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