By; PATRICK TITUS, Uyo
Towards touching lives of people in Niger Delta whose sources of livelihood have been destroyed by the activities of oil companies operating the in the region, a group has advocated that payment of 13 percent oil derivation be paid directly to the affected communities instead of local or state governments.
The group under the aegis of AIbom Oil Producing Community Development Network (AKIPCON), a non-governmental organisation in the region in a release in Uyo, stated that paying the money directly would help to alleviate the sufferings of affected communities.
It added that it would also facilitate development infrastructure, minimize restiveness in the region as well as make the federal government to be seen as being sensitive to their plights.
To ensure equitable sharing of the money among the affected communities, the group suggested the setting up of a committee to handle it and supervised by representative of the communities and federal government.
According to AKIPCON President, Dr Phenson Ufot, “it is unconstitutional for State Government to collect the 13% derivation as it ties down development in the Oil Producing Communities and renders Federal Government unpopular and insensitive to the plight of the people.
“Oil Producing Communities need more infrastructural development such as good roads network, pipe born water, electricity and other infrastructures since the people have suffered from alarming hydrocarbon pollution which has caused abject poverty, unemployment and frustration in the land”, Dr Ufot added.
He reiterated that the people of the Oil Producing Communities in particular and other local government areas in Akwa Ibom state being the number one oil bearing state in Nigeria need functional health facilities close to them to be able to overcome environmental pollution arising from Exxon Mobil incessant oil spills, gas flaring, gas leakages and emissions from corked and uncorked oil wells of SPDC operating in Akwa Ibom State for decades now.
Dr. Ufot also appealed to both Federal and Akwa Ibom State Government to urge oil companies operating in the State to pay compensation to the people for the incessant oil spills, gas flaring and emissions.
The pollution according him, have impacted negatively on the Atlantic Ocean, Qua Iboe River, swamps, Douglas Creek and streams in Ibeno and other sources of means of livelihood of the peasant fishermen and farmers.