495 views | Akanimo Sampson | June 30, 2020
Eight years after being declared as an oil-producing state, oil-bearing communities in Anambra are yearning to join the recognised oil states in Nigeria.
By the membership of the Niger Delta Development Commission (NDDC), there are nine oil-producing states in Nigeria. The states are: Abia, Akwa Ibom, Bayelsa, Cross River, Delta, Edo, Imo, Ondo, and Rivers.
President of the Host Communities of Nigeria Producing Oil and Gas (HOSCON), Dr Mike Emuh, says the group is worried that since August 2012 when Abuja allegedly pronounced Anambra an oil-producing state, it has not yet been benefiting from the 13 per cent derivation like the nine other NDDC states.In 2006, foundation laying ceremony for the first Nigerian private refinery, Orient Petroleum Refinery (OPR) was made at the Aguleri area of the Eastern Nigeria state.
The owner of OPR, Orient Petroleum Resource Ltd, was licensed in June 2002, by the Federal Government to construct a private refinery with a capacity of 55,000 barrels per day.
In 2012, following the efforts of former Governor Peter Obi and other stakeholders of Orient Petroleum, Anambra became an oil-producing state. The indigenous company recorded breakthrough in its oil prospecting in the Anambra River basin.
On August 2, 2015, the management of Orient Petroleum Resources Plc said the company planned to increase its crude oil production to 3,000 barrels per day by September 2015, as it stepped up production activities in two new oil wells in its Aguleri oil fields.
An indigenous company Nails and Stanley Ltd was to establish a gas plant at Umueje in Ayamelum Local Government Area to support economic activities in the state’s oil industry.
But, early in May, 2019 the Department of Petroleum Resources (DPR) gave an insight into why Anambra, Enugu and Kogi states cannot be declared oil-producing states.
According to DPR, the three states cannot be categorised as oil-producing states for now for the very reason that they have not met the necessary requirements.In a letter to the Senate Committee on Petroleum Upstream, the DPR explained that the states can only get to such status if necessary conditions are met. The DPR letter said the three states can only be declared oil states if the oil firm in the area, Orient Oil, scales up its operations from oil prospecting to an oil mining lease.
Emuh however, says communities in Anambra that qualified for membership of HOSCON have not been able to benefit from the federal government agricultural grants and loans as their members in other states.Oil bearing communities in Anambra are demanding for their inclusion among the states that make up the NDDC. Emuh was speaking during the inauguration of HOSCON Local Government Council Chapters Leadership in Awka, the state capital.While calling on Abuja to make Anambra get its benefit as an oil-producing state in the country, the HOSCON president appealed to President Mohammadu Buhari to grant Anambra its due, pointing out that oil companies are operating in the state.“I want to join Anambra people in agitating for what belongs to them, which is benefiting from 13 per cent derivation as an oil-producing state in Nigeria as contained in the constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria.“Anambra produces about 13 metric tonnes of crude oil in a day, why is it that Anambra is not getting derivation? Why is that the students from the state don’t get a scholarship from the companies operating here when there are oil-producing companies here.“HOSCON is thanking President Buhari for always giving us a listening ear, that is why we are calling on to make Anambra have members in NDDC board, benefit from local content policy and gas flaring payments.“This inauguration of local government council chapters is to further take the awareness to the grassroots and mobilise the impacted people to join in agitating for their rights,” he said.Emuh says Abuja through Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) and Bank of Industrial (BOI) has a waiver and special funds and input for people of HOSCON for agricultural diversification, adding that the effort was to make the people benefit.