FG Urged to Consider Niger Delta Indigenes in New Marginal Oilfields Bids

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Peter Uzoho

The skepticism surrounding the transparency and fairness in the process of the ongoing bid round for 57 marginal oilfields has been heightened with one of the bidders expressing lack of faith in the whole process.

A top official of one of the companies participating in the bidding process, said the federal government should right the wrongs allegedly done to the southern part of the country, particularly the oil-bearing Niger Delta by allocating certain number of the marginal oilfields to the people of the area as compensation.

The source who spoke to THISDAY in a telephone chat on condition of anonymity, said the government should use the marginal fields to assuage the feelings in the south-south and Niger Delta people.

He said: “Just like the gas flare commercialisation programme, this one also has so many interests here in Nigeria and outside Nigeria, and then of course you know that the interest is so huge that ordinary things that are supposed to be done are not done.

“What are the ordinary things? For instance, if we say that more than 90 per cent of the oilfields have been ceded to northerners, so what are you doing now to balance the equation so that southerners too can have? You are throwing the thing out to anybody, so that even the north can get.”

He said the restiveness being experienced in the South –south, especially in the Niger Delta for many years were mostly hinged on the fact that they were not benefitting from the oil which is being produced in their lands.

He said the South–south have oil but are not given the opportunity to participate and enjoy its benefits, adding, “they don’t even have oilfields, people from that area don’t have oilfields. So why can’t we say, for this purpose, the South–south people are given certain opportunities to participate even if they don’t meet all the criteria; let us see how we can say, at least one for each state of the Niger Delta. But they are not doing that.”

He said by throwing open the new marginal oilfields for bidding by all and with exorbitant fees, the government had made it possible for the fields to be acquired by the wealthy Nigerians who already had oilfields, thereby technically leaving the south out of the equation again.

He, however attributed the alleged consistent injustice to the inability of southern stakeholders to really mobilise at the grassroots and fight for the right of their people