Southsouth monarchs to Buhari: oil firms shun us

SOUTHSOUTH monarchs yesterday presented their wish list to President Muhammadu Buhari.

The royal fathers, under the auspices of the South south Monarchs Forum, demanded more tangible federal presence in their zone.

They urged the President to ensure that oil sector operators are held accountable for what they described as lack of transparency in their host communities.

On the list of demands were security in the Niger Delta security, economic development, infrastructure and the environment.

The monarchs made an inquiry on 10 per cent participation for host communities in solid minerals and sought to know if same could be applicable to the oil-bearing communities.

The Amanyanabo of Nembe Kingdom, King Edmund Daukoru, who led the monarch, congratulated the President on his re-election.

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Daukoru said: “In exercise of our role as traditional rulers, we plead with all those who are unhappy with the imperfections of our electoral process to graciously transcend their grievances and join the immense task we all face in building a secure and prosperous Nigeria.”

On oil sector, the monarch said: “Mr. President, we think it is time to hold operators accountable for their lack of transparency in community development programmes.”

He accused the operators, among others, of “polarising communities and by-passing traditional authority by pandering to the interest of bully boys and their local militia”.

Speaking on behalf of Bayelsa Elders’ Council, Alfred Diete-Spiff (a former military governor of old Rivers State), the Amanyanabo of Twon-Brass Kingdom, appealed for more tangible Federal presence in the state.

He urged the Buhari administration to give priority attention and award contracts for the Ogbia-Nembe-Brass road, Yenegoa-Oporoma-Ukubie-Koluama road and Sagbama-Ekeremor-Agge road.

The monarch described as inexplicable that the contracts he awarded for the construction the roads 50 years ago as military governor, had not been fixed.

Responding, President Buhari decried the destruction of oil facilities in the Southsouth, urging the Forum of royal fathers region and other elders in the area to end pipeline vandalism in their domains.

In a statement by his Special Adviser on Media and Publicity, Femi Adesina, the President noted that the destruction of oil facilities by vandals was hurting the host communities as well as majority of the people and the environment more than the government.

President Buhari also told his guests that they were culturally and traditionally positioned to complement government efforts at tightening security in the Niger Delta region.

He urged them to educate the youths on the dangers nefarious activities posed to the environment and the economy.

The statement quoted the President as saying: “You need to educate the people that the destruction of installations is hurting majority of the people.

“If pipelines are blown up and the waters are polluted, it affects the fishermen and farmers. Even the fishes in the sea are affected.

“These people who blow up the installations are hurting the people more than they are hurting the government.”

President Buhari also decried the spate of kidnapping in the area.

He urged the royal fathers not to relent in their support for security agencies to effectively contain the trend.

Responding to an inquiry on 10 per cent equity participation for host communities in solid minerals and if the same was applicable to the oil sector, President Buhari said: “The Constitution is very mindful of the way resources are shared. The 13 per cent derivation means that relative to whatever you are producing, 13 per cent is given to your states.

“Then, whatever is offshore in the continental shelf belongs to the nation. Again, your states get their own shares. This means your constituencies get two shares: the 13 per cent derivation and the balance in the continental shelf, which is shared among the 36 states of the federation and the Federal Capital Territory (FCT).

“If the 13 per cent or what is in the continental shelf is not getting to you, then I think by now you ought to have known because you have qualitative leaders with great antecedents.

“For example, when I was a junior officer, one of the royal fathers here was governor of a state.

“Everybody knows him, and he has continuously been in the limelight of the politics of the country. And if the Federal Government is cheating you by denying you part of the 13 per cent derivation or the balance from the continental shelf, you, as the leadership, ought to have seen it by now and brought it out.”

On Niger Delta Development Commission (NDDC), the President told the forum that his administration was mindful of the core mandate of the commission.

“We are concerned about the leadership of the NDDC and we hope that money, which is constitutionally allocated to it, is properly utilised for infrastructure in the area.

”Be assured that we are very mindful of the conditions in your area and how strategic your geopolitical zone is to the economy and stability of the country,” the President said.

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