Emmanuel Addeh in Yenagoa
Oil producing communities in Bayelsa State have urged President Muhammadu Buhari to fast-track the payment of the statutory 13 per cent derivation fund accruing to the Niger Delta directly to them.
Coming under the umbrella of Concerned Citizens of Oil and Gas Producing Communities of Bayelsa, the aggrieved areas said that despite the huge funds available for the purpose, many towns remained in poverty and desolation.
In a letter addressed to the President and made available to journalists in Yenagoa, the representatives of the affected towns lamented the level of deprivation they had suffered as citizens of Nigeria, despite the wealth they contribute to the nation.
The petition was signed by 15 representatives of the oil producing communities, including Dressman Arthur from Shidi-Ama, Allison-Kulo Faith from Egwe-Ama, both in Brass local government area, and Bishop Okorotie from Ekeremor in Ekeremor local government area.
The people noted that the communities were in need of the fund to sustain their livelihood especially as they had mostly lost their livelihoods to oil exploration activities.
They, however, commended President Buhari for so far showing concern for the people of the Niger Delta region, urging him to consolidate it with the payment of the derivation fund directly to the communities, noting that the involvement of the state governors and their governments was unconstitutional.
“On behalf of ourselves, our respective oil and gas producing communities and local government areas and the entire host communities producing oil and gas in Bayelsa State, we wish to write to demand that henceforth, the payment of 13% derivation fund be made directly to the oil and gas producing communities in Bayelsa State. The reason is not far-fetched.
“In the 1999 Federal Constitution, Section 162 (2) as amended, 13% Derivation Fund is succinctly provided and it is to ensure that the oil producing communities who have lost their livelihood, everything and suffered from the pollutions, oil spillages, devastation, degradation of oil exploration activities should be adequately compensated.
“It is regrettable, therefore, that nothing and we mean nothing practically has been done to ameliorate and better the lives of the poor and downtrodden masses living in abject poverty in the midst of plenty, which have made Nigeria thick.
“The communities and areas from which Nigeria’s black gold is extracted and developing other regions and cities have cried for long.
“Now, therefore, it is imperative that Mr. President fulfills his mission to move the people to the next level. To this end, kindly direct, as per the constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, the payment of 13% derivation fund directly to the down-trodden masses, where oil exploration and gas flaring take place, to take charge of the affairs of the administration of their environments and improve their communities.
“We have been cheated and deceived for too long. Let us heave a sigh of relief that indeed you have come to make a difference and salvage the suffering masses.
“Consequently, we solicit Mr. President to use his good offices to so direct the relevant agency to pay the 13% Derivation Fund to the people, direct and not to the state governor or Bayelsa State government.
“The peace of the Niger Delta region is the growth of Nigerian economy. We thank you in anticipation as this will enable us witness unprecedented development in Bayelsa State” the communities noted.