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Legislators from the South-South and South East regions of Nigeria have urged the federal government of the country to change the ownership rules for oil wells in favor of the communities living in the Niger Delta.
“The people of the Niger Delta region should possess at least 65 percent of the oil wells contrary to the present ownership structure where less than 10 percent of the oil blocks belong to our people,” the legislators said. The group includes the principal officers of the two regions and members of their Houses of Assembly. The Niger Delta spans the South-South and South East geopolitical regions.
The lawmakers went on to explain how the people living in the Delta are suffering not just the environmental pollution from the oil industry, along with persistent poverty, but insecurity has now been added to their woes because of the repeated attacks by various militant groups of oil production and transportation infrastructure.
These militant groups, which claim to act in the interests of these same poor communities, were condemned by the MPs, who also urged the local youth to refrain from violence and open conflict, opting instead for diplomacy and use of the “various constituted platforms.”
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An interesting suggestion put forward by the two Houses was to assign militant groups in the Niger Delta with the task of protecting the oil production and transport infrastructure, and of preventing the rise of new militant groups. In addition, the federal government was called upon to organize its security forces better, so that they would protect the lives and property of the local communities.
Overall, the legislators blamed all the ills plaguing the Niger Delta to the disproportionate return locals get from the utilization of its natural resources and insisted that the federal government remove those ills by leaving a bigger piece of the oil revenue pie in the Delta and doing more to stamp out the violence.
By Irina Slav for Oilprice.com
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Irina is a writer for the U.S.-based Divergente LLC consulting firm with over a decade of experience writing on the oil and gas industry.