In a press conference held by a coalition of stakeholders representing the oil and gas-producing communities of Edo State, concerns were raised regarding the proposed budget for 2024 by the Federal Ministry of Niger Delta.
The stakeholders expressed their disappointment and frustration, citing the budget as an appropriation in bad faith and a display of insensitivity towards their communities. This article aims to shed light on their grievances and demands for a fair allocation of resources.
Oil/Gas Producing Communities of Edo State:
The oil and gas-producing communities in Edo State are primarily located in three local government areas: Orhionmwon, Ovia-North East, and Ikpoba-Okha. These communities are the backbone of Edo State’s membership in the Niger Delta region, which led to the establishment of the Ministry of Niger Delta to address their special needs.
Appointment of an Edo Son as Minister:
The stakeholders initially welcomed the appointment of Hon. Abubakar Momoh, an indigene of Edo State, as the Minister of Niger Delta. Despite not hailing from an oil/gas producing community, his appointment was seen as a positive step towards addressing the long-standing issues faced by these communities. However, their optimism quickly turned to disappointment.
Misallocation of Funds:
The stakeholders expressed their dissatisfaction with Hon. Momoh’s proposed budget, which allocated five capital projects to his constituency in Edo North, an area that does not produce oil. This decision neglects the urgent needs of the oil and gas-producing communities, which require infrastructure development, including roads and bridges.
Critical Infrastructure Requirements:
Numerous roads in the oil and gas-producing communities are in deplorable conditions and demand immediate attention. For example, Orhionmwon LGA requires repairs to the Idu-Iguemokhua-Abe Road and Orogho-Obanakhoro-Iwevbo-Obagie Nunuamen Road. It is worth noting that Orhionmwon LGA possesses the largest land gas reserve. Similarly, in Ikpoba-Okha LGA, the Okha/Obagie Ne Kankporu Road and Uti-Evbomaman Road urgently need intervention. Ovia North-East also requires attention to the Gelegele/Ekewan Road and Ovah-Iguoshodin Negbemaba–Iguzama-okabeghe–Aideyanoba–Unuamen Road.
The Shocking Disregard:
The stakeholders expressed their shock and disappointment at the 2024 budget proposal for the Ministry of Niger Delta. The proposed budget fails to address the infrastructure needs of the oil and gas-producing communities, instead diverting resources to towns and villages in the Minister’s senatorial district that do not host any oil or gas wells. This decision exhibits a complete lack of sensitivity towards the communities that contribute significantly to the nation’s economy.
Demand for Justice:
The coalition of stakeholders vehemently protests against this blatant injustice and demands an immediate review or re-appraisal of the budget. They insist that the contemplation of the Petroleum Industry Act be taken into consideration, emphasizing the need to prioritize the oil and gas-producing communities of Edo State. They express their hope that President Muhammadu Buhari and Asiwaju Bola Ahmed Tinubu, known advocates of resource control and anti-marginalization, will intervene to rectify this situation. They also call on conscientious individuals in the National Assembly to stand against this disregard and theft.