Governor Emmanuel Uduaghan of Delta State
By Omon-Julius Onabu
Governor Emmanuel Uduaghan of Delta State has lamented the 1969 introduction of the oil decree by the military government of General Yakubu Gowon, which took away the rights of the oil procuring states to the benefits but vested same in the then Federal Military Government.
He said it was particularly painful that the Federal Government removed the rights and benefits accruing from oil and gas exploration and production whereas the oil producing communities and the states were left to bear the burden of devastated environment, pollution and other negative consequences of oil and gas exploitation.
Dr Uduaghan made these remarks at the opening of the state’s Ministry of Oil and Gas-organized “1st Delta State Oil and Gas Industry Stakeholders Conference” which held at Wellington Hotel, Effurun near Warri, Friday.
The state’s Deputy Governor, Prof Amos Utuama (SAN) who represented Dr Uduaghan, read his address at the conference aimed at promoting peace in the industry and the country through creation of a convivial relationship among the stakeholders: oil companies, oil producing communities and the government.
“We must all recall that in 1969 the course of Nigerian history was changed and the nature of economic relationship between states and the Federal Government was altered by the promulgation of the Petroleum Decree by the Military Government, which took away the rights of the States to minerals produced in their territories and placed it squarely under the exclusive control of the Federal Military Government.
“Since then, oil and gas producing states have become beggars for the oil and gas produced in their own territories and that now depend on ‘allocations’ from the federal authorities to meet their needs and to solve the multifarious problems like the monumental environmental destructions which accompany oil prospecting and production.
“Every policy in the oil and gas industry in Nigeria took its roots from the Petroleum Decree of 1969 and has further contributed to the increasing alienation of the oil producing communities and states from the benefits of oil while leaving them to suffer the hazards and permanent damages arising from oil production.
“The overwhelming control of the oil and gas industry and the benefits arising there-from by the Federal Government is unprecedented and unknown in any other sector of the Nigerian economy or indeed anywhere else in the world,” Dr. Uduaghan said.
The governor, however, noted that his administration has taken concrete steps to enlarge the avenues for the oil producing communities in the state to benefit more directly from oil production and, at the same time minimize the pains of oil exploitation in their areas.