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Niger Delta Community Threatens Disruption Of Oil Drilling Activities

…Sends Strong Message To President Buhari


By Joseph Atainyang


A community in the Niger Delta region of Nigeria, the Oro Nation, has sent a strong message to Nigeria’s President, Muhammadu Buhari, threatening disruption of oil activities in the area.

Oro Nation, the third largest ethnic nationality in Akwa Ibom State, made up of five local government areas: Oron, Udung Uko, Mbo, Okobo and Urue Offong/Oruko, is blessed with huge reserve of crude oil .

Speaking during the assessment of moribund port related projects by a multi sectoral committee of the federal government led by the Senior Special Assistant to the President on Niger Delta Affairs, Senator Ita Enang, Oro people lamented their exclusion from the economic prosperity of the country.

According to the President-General of Oron Union, the apex sociocultural organization in Oro, Bishop Etim Ante, about eight oil companies were daily exploiting crude oil onshore and off the shores of Oro Nation.

Worried about the refusal of the government to recognize Oro as oil producing, Bishop Ante regretted that Oro has been pushed to the wall and that the undue neglect and marginalization which was causing serious agitation could explode into fragmentation, if not urgently addressed.

The visibly furious PG who believed the revival of Ebughu Fishing Terminal would improve the economic potentials of the country, called on President Buhari to intervene in timely recognition of Oro as a core oil producing area and in funding security, especially in the fishing settlements of Ibaka and other places.

His words, “Mobil is here. We have the Universal Engery operating here. We have the Septa Energy, the Addax Petroleum Development Company and the Moni-Pulo. They are all operating here. There is Total E & P and then the Oriental Energy. All these companies are here, drilling oil from our shores.

“Akwa Ibom State is highest oil producing in Nigeria. About 65 percent of oil produced in the state is from Oro Nation. 60 percent of the accruing revenue goes to the federal government, while 40 percent remain with the oil companies. This neglect has caused serious agitation which may degenerate into fragmentation.

“It is a continuation of the tale of woes and lamentation of the Oro people. We have been pushed to the wall and a saying goes that he that is down fears no fall. All economic activities in this fishing settlement have crumbled because of ruthless sea pirates.

“Issues of security are within the exclusive list if the federal government. The federal government should deep its hands into the pocket and procure sophisticated weapons that could be used to contain the pirates. We need enough gun boats here, say 20 or 30! The naval officials and even the Air Force should be deployed to eliminate these pirates.

In his remarks, a chieftain of Oro Nation, Arc Otu Ita Toyo expressed displeasure over the gross marginalization of his people by the powers that be, despite their contributions to Nigeria’s economic prosperity.

Otu Toyo who insisted that Oro was a peaceful society known for her hospitable nature, prevailed on Senator Ita Enang to directly alert President Muhammadu Buhari that Oro people were being denied her right, as oil producing community.

“We are not begging for handouts. We have facilities and people of capacity. If 65 percent of oil in the state comes from Oro, it goes by simple arithmetic that Oro is a leading player in the field. This questions why government can have meetings with companies and oil producing community to the exclusion of Oro.

“We are bold and very resilient in nature. But we have never been on record as a violent community. There is only one record in history of how Oro people fought and resisted the Imperial Royal Navy in 1899 from accessing the community.

“No where in Africa has that record. Oro stood them off for six months and after that, we decided never to fight anyone again. But if anyone wants to drag us further, they will see what we did to the British,” Toyo concluded.

Meanwhile, the President of Oro Youth Movement (OYOM), Comrade Victor Mkpofor who complained that Oro people were not being employed by the oil companies, lamented the activities of sea pirates and called on the federal government to provide adequate security to contain the menace.

Others including the President-General of Afaha Ebughu Development Union, Elder Ita Onukak; the Youth President of Ibaka, Elder Chris Ukap, the President, Ibaka Development Association, Elder Okon Effiong and a host of others, recounted various tails of neglect and threat to their existence as perpetrated by sea pirates.

Responding, the presidential aide, Ita Enang acknowledged their worries and promised to convey their challenges to President Buhari.
Ita Enang however noted that the President intends to promote the non-oil economic potentials of the Niger Delta region through the provision of funds towards developing port activities for commercial purposes.

In Enang’s team were contingents from the office of the Speaker of the National Assembly, those from office of the deputy Senate President, together with representatives of the Federal Ministry of Agriculture, the Fishery Society of Nigeria, among others.

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