Ninety-seven oil producing and host communities in Ogba/Egbema/Ndoni Local Government Area (ONELGA) of Rivers State have lamented the failure of the federal government and oil companies operating in the area to bring development to the communities despite their contribution to the economy.
They have subsequently issued a 14-day ultimatum to oil companies operating in the area, including the Nigeria Agip Oil Company (NAOC), Total Exploration and Production Nigeria (TEPNG), Shell Petroleum Development Company (SPDC), Addax Petroleum Development Company, and others to relocate their headquarters to the area in line with the Nigerian Content Act.
The communities, under the aegis of ONELGA Host Communities Stakeholders’ Forum, have also issued a 14-day ultimatum to Nigerian Liquefied Natural Gas (NLNG) Limited, Greenville Oil and Gas Limited and Indorama Eleme Petrochemicals to enter into a memorandum of understanding (MoU) with them to develop the area as a mega city.
Addressing journalists at Omoku, headquarters of ONELGA, after a rally by youths and women of the communities, Chairman of ONELGA Host Communities Stakeholders Forum, Chief Nelson Ekperi, lamented that the area which produces the bulk of oil and gas that sustains the nation had been abandoned and neglected over the years.
He lamented: “Whereas ONELGA produces 56.6 per cent of gas feed tuck to the NLNG in Bonny, ONELGA has not benefited from the federal government apart from the Federal College of Education, Omoku that is declared as the worst Federal College of Education in Nigeria in terms of infrastructural projects.
“More pathetic is the fact that the Eleme Petrochemical Industry now operated by Indorama receives 100 per cent of it gas feed tuck from gas produced by Nigerian Agip Oil Company (NAOC) in ONELGA but no benefit accrues to the L.G.A whereas Eleme, the host community of the company enjoys 10 per cent equity shares of its benefit.”
Ekperi also noted that the area hosts two major gas recycling plants at Obiafu/Obrikom (Omoku) and Obite Gas Plant as well as Egbema-Ebocha Oil Centre, Idu Mini Gas Plant, with a total average production capacity of 49 per cent of gas to the Nigerian economy, adding that the area is the largest on-shore oil and gas producing local government area of Rivers State and Nigeria on unit basis.
“The local government is host to three of the seven Nigerian Independent Power Plants (NIPP); to be specific, the Gbarain-Ubie, Omoku and Egbema power Plants are located in ONELGA. In a similar development, there are four oil mining leases – the OML 58 (Total), OML 60 (SPDC), OML 61 (NAOC) and OML 20 (NPDC); 13 oil fields and 507 oil wells according to the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC) monthly, quarterly and annual information bulletin,” he said.
He stated that while oil and gas production in most places had ceased due to vandalism or other issues, ONELGA currently contributes more than 70 per cent of crude oil and gas that sustains the Nigerian economy.
The area, he said, had also been faced with series of environmental and health problems emanating from the oil and gas industry and the fallout of the 2012 flood that ravaged the area.
Ekperi said the communities would not bear their marginalisation and abandonment any longer and called for immediate intervention by government and the international oil companies operating or benefiting from the area.
His words: “We request that both the state and the federal government of Nigeria should produce a blue print to develop ONELGA as a mega city. This should be made operational within one month from date of this press release. The Ministry of Niger Delta and the NDDC should collaborate with the federal government in actualising this project as a matter of necessity.
“We demand the immediate dualisation of the Ahoada-Omoku-Ebocha-Egbema Road with street light. Only Julius Berger Construction Company shall be accepted for this project to ensure a quality, durable and timely delivery of the project.
“The Nigeria Agip Oil Company (NAOC) should site the proposed refinery in ONELGA. We forbid the mentioning of any other place outside ONELGA for the refinery project because our natural resources shall no longer be used to develop other areas to the detriment of ONELGA. We have large expanse of land and conducive environment for the project in ONELGA.
“We demand the immediate relocation to ONELGA, the head offices of all the international oil companies operating in Ogba/Egbema/Ndoni local government area in line with the Oil and Gas Industry Content Development Bill 2010, now the Nigeria Local Content signed on the 29th day of March, 2010.”
He also called on the Federal Ministry of Environment and NAOC to urgently address the issue of environmental degradation and pollution orchestrated by the 2012 flood in communities in ONELGA.
He said the communities might be “forced to do the needful” at the expiration of the ultimatum if nothing was done.