Abuja—A renowned youth leader, Alfred Kemepado, has appealed to President Bola Tinubu to give a sense of communal ownership to the people of the Niger Delta in the exploration of crude in the region.
Kemepado, a former Head of Reintegration of the Presidential Amnesty Programme (PAP) made the appeal in a live TV programme on Thursday.
He said that although similar arrangements were made for host communities in the Petroleum Industry Act, he doubts the implementation of such a clause in the law.
He maintained that for the region to enjoy lasting peace, oil-producing communities must be given a sense of belonging and ownership of petroleum resources in the region.
In his words: “I am appealing to the President; he needs to attend to how the people of the Niger Delta will begin to have communal ownership of the oil that has been explored and exploited from their region.
“Yes, I’ve seen a bit of the community component in the Petroleum Industry Act (PIA) but one question we should ask: is it being effected?
“How effective are the letters in the PIA? Because when we get that document effective and the communities are involved, we can feel the development.
“We need to involve the communities because when they have a part of it, they can say ‘this is our own.’
“You don’t even need to pay them to protect it because if a barrel of crude oil is selling for $70, if a community is aware by the structures the federal government will put in place that for every $70 the communities will be earning even $1 or $2, they won’t let you come and break it.”
Kemepado, while thanking the Federal Government for awarding surveillance contracts to some persons in the Niger Delta to oversee oil pipelines in the region, however maintained that more needs to be done to create a sense of ownership in the people of the region.
“Thank you for giving surveillance contracts to some people in the region to protect the oil pipelines. But let me mildly say, that in itself is not the best. It’s like telling us the Niger Delta people to be maiguards over the pipelines.
“Thank you that you’ve given this surveillance contract but we need to step it forward by having this structural arrangement where the communities will be part of the whole process.
“However, this cannot be done exclusively by the federal government, there has to be community participation, local government participation, state participation, and the federal government.”
Kemepado also said Tinubu can concentrate on the Niger Delta region by lessening the overbearing pressure on the Commission (NDDC) by politicians in Abuja.
“The president needs to wade in, the president by himself needs to empower the management Board with a plan to systematically subject review so that their actions are taken in the interest of the Niger Delta, not in the interstate of some so-called Abuja people.”
The youth leader urged the APC-led federal government to liaise with Niger Delta governors who are mostly of the PDP in the area of giving out briefs and instructions to stakeholders who coordinate and bring about peace and development in the region.
He also appealed to the people of the Niger Delta saying, “this is not the time to fight, this is the time to make friends, negotiate and give people what you have to get what you want.”