Rivers State Governor, Mr. Chibuike Amaechi
By Ernest Chinwo
Rivers State Governor, Mr. Chibuike Amaechi, has lamented the spate of boundary dispute in the South-south, which he said is being fuelled by the location of oil wells.
Amaechi, whose state has been locked in battle with some of its neighbours over the ownership of oil wells, said in Port Harcourt Tuesday, the state capital, that some states go as far as doctoring maps to assist them in claiming oil wells located in a neighbouring state.
According to him, states in the region employ the services of surveyors to make phoney claims over oil wells located in border areas in their bid to increase their revenue base.
Amaechi, who was speaking at the opening of a four-day Coordination and Advisory Board on Survey Training Conference, expressed surprise that states could change their boundaries according to the availability of oil wells in the region.
He cited the case of the oil well dispute between Rivers and Bayelsa States at the Supreme Court in which lawyers to the National Boundary Commission (NBC) admitted errors in its publication and pledged to correct those errors in their subsequent publication.
He said following the admission of the errors by the commission, the Supreme Court ruled that both parties should allow the commission to correct the errors, as there was no need to continue with the matter.
“So, we are waiting and we will shout if the correction is not effected,” he said, noting that Bayelsa was carved out of Rivers State and both parties ordinarily knew their boundaries.
He urged the surveyors-general of states not to allow governments to put them under pressure to do the wrong thing.
“In the face of danger, always stand for the truth. Don’t follow the directive or pressure from government,” he added.
The governor said his administration had resolved to fund research and development and to acquire the technology to aid the work of the surveyor-general of the state.
Earlier in his address, the Surveyor-General of the Federation, Professor Peter Nwilo, said the conference, with the theme: ‘Review of Survey Coordination Act in Tune with the Current Challenges’ would consider the law in the face of developments in technology and changes in the country.
Nwilo said the review of the Act had become necessary as it was last revised in 1973, to accommodate modern development.
According to Nwilo, “The Survey Coordination Act, in the face of current challenges and developments in technology, is certainly due for review. The Act is part of the laws of the federation. It is the responsibility of the stakeholders in the surveying and mapping sector to determine which part of the act requires change.”
He said the review would “reposition the industry to be alive to its responsibilities and make it more relevant in the national agenda of transforming the country”.
On his part, the Minister of Works, Mr. Mike Onolememen, explained that the review of the Act was central to survey and mapping activities in Nigeria, including the storage and management of the information arising from it.
Onolememen, represented by the Minister of State for Works, Mr. Bashir Yuguda, said because survey is the bedrock of all development, “the problem of obsolete and inadequate maps will soon be a thing of the past”.