Rising from a Parliamentary forum in Owerri, the capital of Imo State, lawmakers from the South-South and South-East geo-political zones have urged the Federal Government to review the ownership structure of oil wells in the country.
They want the people of the Niger Delta region to possess at least 65 percent of the oil wells contrary to the present ownership structure where less than 10 percent of the oil blocks belong to thier people.
This, they said, would go a long way to fast track the development of the oil rich but impoverished Niger Delta region.
They noted that the region’s development is being hindered by the present payment mode of derivative oil funds.
“There is an urgent need for the Federal Government of Nigeria to put in place adequate machinery that would ensure direct payment of derivative oil funds into the hands of Niger Delta Benefiting communities” the principal officers and members of the Houses of Assembly in the region said.
The lawmakers also condemned the criminal and nefarious activities of the so called Fulani herdsmen, who have been on the killing spree in parts of the country.
“Legislators of the Houses of Assembly in the South-South and South East can no longer watch helplessly as our region drifts aimlessly while our people walk the razor edge under the strain of impoverishment, environmental degradation, insecurity and uncertainty on the one hand and the destruction of oil/gas installations and the attendant consequences including their impact on the ecosystem and the economy on the other hand”
They urged the youth to shun confrontation, violence and militancy in pressing for the redress of the zone.
“They must embrace dialogue and diplomacy and channel their grievances through various constituted platforms”
The joint session of legislators from the South -East and South –South geo-political zones not only condemned the evil acts of kidnapping, hostage taking and bursting of oil pipelines but stressed that militants from the zones should be constituted into an officially recognized brigade for the protection of oil installations
“They should among other things be charged with the responsibility to halt the rise of other offensive militant groups who may from time to time threaten to spring up”
The lawmakers advised the Presidency to direct the security agencies in the country to brace up and be alive to their constitutional responsibility of protecting lives and property.
“They must save the people of the geo-political zones from the hands of the marauding herdsmen. Governments of the South-East and South-South geo-political zones should set up a high powered joint judicial panel of inquiry to unravel the facts and circumstances surrounding the incessant attacks by the herdsmen and determine the best way to prevent its recurrence in the zones. They should also establish special task force drawn from the various security agencies and neighborhood watch in each local government to checkmate the excesses of herdsmen and prosecute them”
The legislators, who called for more proactive measures to address the activities of herdsmen, restated their commitments to pass bills restricting cattle rearing, prohibiting grazing of cattle from one location to another through farmlands thereby causing damages to farm lands, health hazards and obstruction of vehicular and human traffic.
The lawmakers while attributing the defective and harsh socio-economic environment, lack of employment opportunities, lack of empowerment for the youth, environmental degradation, lack of infrastructure, general underdevelopment and inadequate benefit of the resources from the region, despite being the major source of the economic resources of the nation to the causes of upsurge in militancy activities in the region, rejected the proposed bill to establish and control grazing routes and reserves before the National Assembly and State Houses of Assembly.
They urged the Federal Government to revisit the performance of the amnesty programme, the United Nations Environment Programme Report and the Hydrocarbon Pollution Restoration Project with a view to strengthening grey areas.
They also urged the National Assembly to ensure the accelerated passage of the Petroleum Industry Bill
“The Federal Government should enter into peaceful dialogue with the critical stakeholders in the South-South and South- East in resolving the dispute and operate within the rule of engagement without incurring collateral damage”
Speakers and Deputy Speakers of Abia, Akwa-Ibom, Anambra, Bayelsa, Rivers, Cross River, Delta, Ebonyi, Edo, Enugu and Imo states were in attendance.