The root of the niger delta crisis – politics – nigeria gas efficient suv 2014


Before 1958, when crude oil was first discovered in Nigeria, resulting in the oil boom era of the 70’s, Agriculture which was the mainstay of the economy was in the hands of both our Northern and Western counterparts. Then the Federal Government statutorily allocated revenue to regions on the basis of Origins, referred to as “Derivation Principle”. This principle had a sharing formular that gave preference to these regions as follows:

Somewhere down the road, came Awolowo’s( being the chief Architect), Onshore-Offshore dichotomy, put in place to strip the minority oil-producing states, with different ethnic background, of their oil revenue. The policy gave full ownership of oil produced offshore to the Federal Government, while that produced onshore was shared between the Federal Government, other regions and the producing states.

However, after the launch of the Kaduna refinery project and increased agitation for equitable distribution of oil revenue, by producing states, the Federal Government promulgated another decree, known as the “The Land use Decree of 1978”, giving it(i.e. the Federal Government) full ownership of every piece of land in the country, meaning, all the natural resources that came with the land now belonged to the federal government.

The bill which was given no attention by the federal government gave birth to the group now known as the Movement for the Survival of Ogoni People (MOSOP). The group which publicly showed both the Nigerian and International Community, the utter neglect, economical disaster, abject poverty and destruction caused by the Nigerian government and Shell Petroleum Development Company (SPDC), had nine of its prominent members including the renowned playwright and Activist Ken Saro-Wiwa, framed and killed in 1995.

After the submission of President Yar’adua’s constituted Niger Delta Technical Committees’ Report early this year, the President ignoring the major content of the said report came up with the “Amnesty Deal.” While the October 4th, 2009 deadline for militants in the region to lay down their arms (probably to pave the way for resumption of crude production ) stands, it has probably another forty-nine years for the region to come out of its deplorable state.

Should this defenseless minority, oil-producing people, sit back and watch successive governments come up with plans, proposals, insincere agenda and all other sweet-talk to fool themselves and those who care to listen, while embezzling billions in the process?

The fact has always been that the Federal Government of Nigeria has never been sincere to the Niger Delta people. They tend to talk much of the region but back their words with little or no positive or sincere action. For instance, the Oil Producing Area Development Commission (OMPADEC), the Niger Delta Development Commission (NDDC) and now the Niger Delta Ministry, are all ploys by successive administrations, to pretend that it holds the plight of the Region at heart. These pseudo commissions (as I call them) only appear on paper, as they are quite poorly funded. It is worthy of note that, for the past ten years, the position of a substantive Petroleum Minister has been the President with an indigene of the Niger Delta as his deputy, now it happens that when a substantive Petroleum Minister is appointed it ends up being a Northerner and a Niger Deltan as deputy. Is it that no one from the region is capable of fully administering that office?

The oil-producing region, made up of nine states and over two-hundred communities, each with problems of health care delivery, portable water, education, accessible roads, unemployment, environmental degredation, etc. has lingered, even before the formation of OMPADEC in 1992 and they are still the cries of the people to this day. How can a region that produces over two million barrels of oil per day; a region that puts Nigeria among the top ten oil exporting countries in the world, and number one in Africa; a region with oil and gas flowing from Qua Iboe terminal in Akwa Ibom state to Escravos in Delta state; a region that funds well over 78% of the trillion Naira budgets in Nigeria, be the poorest, most dangerous (environmentally) and less developed oil-producing region in the world?

It is really sad to know that beneath Soku community in Rivers State (one of the communities close to the Atlantic), lays tons of oil and natural gas, exported daily, and has but wooden boats to convey indigenes to and from neighboring communities, but most shocking and painful to see is Oloibiri in Bayelsa State (where oil was first found in Nigeria) with mud huts and stream as source of drinking water.

Are we paying the price for our God given resources? Or are we just custodians of Nigeria’s most priced possession? The last words of our late Civil Right activist Ken Saro-Wiwa, “…the struggle still continues” will always ring a bell in our bleeding hearts, and no matter how far, or how long it will take us, this struggle will continue.

While inland states have historically shared 50 percent of all revenues generated from royalties and bids for onshore oil and natural gas production with the federal government, states producing offshore oil and gas beyond the first three miles of federal waters off of their shores have not. However, this has since changed.

Enacted on December 20, 2006, The Gulf of Mexico Energy Security Act (GOMESA) created revenue sharing provisions for several oil and natural gas producing states while increasing access to oil and natural gas supplies in the Gulf of Mexico (Gulf). The revenue sharing provisions allocated a share of oil and natural gas revenues to Alabama, Louisiana, Mississipi and Texas for directly supporting offshore activities and onshore infrastructure.

From 2007 through 2016, the four Gulf oil and gas producing states will share 37.5 percent of revenues from new leases in the 0.5 million acres in the Eastern Gulf and the 5.8 million acres in the Central Gulf. After 2016, they will share 37.5 percent of revenues from all Gulf leases issued after December 2006.

Revenue sharing from production on federal waters is critical, as it significantly benefits local governments, promotes national economic interests and generates additional federal revenues by increasing state and local participation. Such sharing facilitates a closer partnership among federal, state, and local agencies. Individual states are also afforded additional opportunities to dedicate funds to vital coastal areas and projects, such as coastal conservation, restoration and hurricane protection. In fact, Louisiana has directed that all monies derived from offshore revenue sharing go to coastal protection, wetland mitigation efforts and hurricane protection measures.

Other states have recently expressed a desire to receive the same benefits from oil and gas production off of their coasts, similar to those received by the Gulf states. Several coastal states, such as Virginia, South Carolina and Georgia, have expressed interest in understanding more about their available offshore resources and the royalty revenues that could be derived if development were to occur.