Kogi Oil: Anambra, Enugu, Kogi in Peace Meeting Over Oil Wells

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Since the discovery of crude oil deposits in the boundary areas of Kogi, Anambra and Enugu Kogi states, the affected communities have not known peace. Members of these communities in the areas have taken up arms against one another as the states lay claim and counter-claim over which state the oil wells belong to.

 

The building of a private refinery, the Orient Petroleum Resources Plc owned by Anambra State-born business men at the area did not assuage the people. Rather, it escalated the crisis as Anambra and Kogi states engage each other in fierce clashes.

 

The three oil-producing states met recently and have resolved to take steps aimed at addressing the continuous oil-related crisis existing among their communities.

 

 

Rising from a stakeholders’ meeting in Enugu recently which was tagged “Inaugural Meeting of Peace, Truth and Reconciliation” and which featured various stakeholders from the communities, they affirmed that their various communities would make good use of the oil in the area.

 

 

In his opening remark, the immediate past Special Adviser to the ex-President Goodluck Jonathan on Petroleum Resources, Dr. Emmanuel Egbogah, regretted that the communities across the states have under-utilised the “blessings from God” in the form of oil in their lands.

 

 

According to him, it was unfortunate that there is no peace existing among the oil-producing states, adding that the various stakeholders should put their differences aside and work for the good of one another.

 

 

His words: “We are given a blessing by the presence of oil in our communities and we are trying to throw away, to scatter this blessing. It is not proper. So, we are gathered here today to bring ourselves back to that blessing. To work in unity, tranquillity and understanding so that we can actually feed from that blessing.

 

 

“If we understand the meaning and benefits the host communities have individually and collectively, then we wouldn’t have been having one form of misunderstanding or another.”

 

 

In a related speech, the President of Host Communities of Nigeria (a body uniting communities with oil and gas deposits in Nigeria); Prince Mike Emuh emphasised that without peace, nothing meaningful can be achieved from these communities of Anambra, Enugu and Kogi states. He assured that his group will ensure that lasting peace will be realised shortly.

 

 

Prince Emuh further urged the government(s) of the affected states to put more efforts so as to guarantee the safety of lives and properties in these communities.

 

 

Also speaking, a representative of Orient Petroleum Resources Plc, Mr. Marcel Ifejiofor, expressed the commitment of the companies to better the lives of members of the host communities.

 

 

While pointing out that the oil companies cannot operate successfully without the help of the host communities, he called on the various communities to play their part to bring about peaceful co-existence.

 

 

“We need encouragement and support from local communities for a safe and secure environment; and encouragement for enough investments through which these communities could be developed.

 

 

“So, we strongly believe that our company will bring heavy investment to these communities,” he said.

 

 

Pointing out that the usual factors responsible for persistent problems between oil companies and host communities is lack of understanding and communication breakdown, he said the company will do all within its powers to live up to expectations.

 

 

“We believe that we are going to empower the communities with scholarships and various other rural projects to aid mutual co-existence,” he said.

 

 

Speaking to newsmen in an interview, the Senior Special Assistant (SSA) to Anambra State Governor, Hon. Ngozi Okoyo revealed that the government of Chief Willy Obiano has been doing all within its powers to enthrone peaceful co-existence within these communities. She noted that Governor Obiano’s administration has committed resources and time, all geared towards achieving peace among the communities.

 

 

Furthermore, another delegate representing Enugu State, Mr. Mike Nwakife advocated for an alternate means of conflict resolution for peace to reign. He frowned at the attempt of some people to hurt others or even take others’ lives over the misunderstanding among the communities as, according to him, the Igbo culture and tradition forbid such.

 

 

He further regretted that Enugu State is being taken for granted even though the state hosts a large amount of oil in the region, especially in Iga community. According to him, none of the professionals from the state are featured in the employment schedule of the oil companies, adding that such act is totally uncalled for.

 

 

While cautioning that the state wouldn’t resolve to any violent means for it to gain recognition, he said for peace to reign among the three states there was need for fair treatment and equity.

 

 

In his submission, a representative from Anambra State, Sir Kingsley Nnabuenyi, said there had been series of unresolved issues among some of the feuding communities outside of oil. He said that there had been communal problems existing in the past before the issue of oil came up.

 

 

“Oil became an escalating factor. So, we have to look at the root of the problem and resolve these things historically first,” he added.

 

 

At the end of the meeting, a committee was set up to devise a means of putting an end to the oil-related crisis. Members of the committee were drawn from the three affected states and the executive of the Host Communities of Nigeria. The committee was given two months to conclude its assignments.

Credits: The Nation


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