N’Delta Leaders Demand Audit Of Region, Reparations For 60 Years Of Oil Extraction

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Worried by the negative impact of oil exploration and exploitation for over 60 years, leaders of the Niger Delta region of the country have called for an immediate and comprehensive audit of decades-old activities in the oil-rich region, yet impoverished.

In a statement at the end of a meeting by leaders of the Niger Delta Alternatives Convergence in Uyo, Akwa Ibom State, they insisted that the audit must cover environmental, livelihood, health, social and economic impacts of crude oil and gas extraction.

The convergence which was chaired by former Governor of Akwa Ibom State, Obong Victor Attah and had a keynote presented by Professor G.G Darah, added that the audit report should be immediately followed by the remediation of impacted places, restoration of the human and ecological damages caused by extraction activities, and reparations for the irreversible damages caused by oil extraction.

Frontline civil society organizations, socio-cultural groups, academics, traditional rulers and individuals drawn from the Niger Delta states of Abia, Akwa Ibom, Bayelsa, Cross River, Delta, Edo, Imo, Ondo and Rivers States attended the meeting.

Among other demands, they called on the federal government to immediately produce a framework and guide for how oil companies disengage from areas where they have operated.

Besides, they canvassed for an immediate review of the Petroleum Industry Act by the National Assembly, provide a definite deadline for gas flaring by oil companies and eliminate powers to permit flaring, review gas flare fines to reflect the same amount as commercial value of natural gas in the international market, while transferring flare fines to host communities.

They also want an elimination of the section of the PIA that places the responsibility to protect oil installations on host communities, the removal of the powers to establish Host Community Development Funds from the ‘settlor’ or oil companies, and bestow same on each host community.

Immediate release to the public of the forensic audit report on the NDDC and the prosecution of all those found to have fleeced the Commission.

Other demands include: “An immediate review of the NDDC Act to ensure greater accountability, prudence and participation of people in the affairs of the Commission.

“Establishment of special agencies for the administration of 13% derivation revenues for the benefit of oil producing communities
by all states in the region.

“The restoration and respect, especially in Cross River state of the land and forest rights of communities, and for deliberate efforts to be made to check the spate of deforestation.

“The production of detailed plans to respond to new and emerging climate change threats to include strategies for supporting community resilience, controlling flooding, relocating communities, addressing health concerns and providing for the social and economic needs of affected people.”

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