Amid numerous precautionary measures canvassed to contain the dreaded corona virus, the Honourable Commissioner for Environment and Petroleum Resources in Akwa Ibom State, Dr. (Barr.) Ekong Sampson, has called on the people of the state to pay serious attention to personal hygiene and environmental cleanliness, even as the state government is set to clamp down on illegal felling of trees in city centres.
Akwa Ibom State is the Nation’s highest producer of crude oil which makes her top on the list of contributors to the nation’s purse.
Funnily, a ride across the 31 local government areas of the state does not tell a story of an oil producer and the federal government would without conscience approve a whooping N1.4billion for the design, of a proposed DPR headquarter in Abuja.
The faces of international oil companies’ operating in Akwa Ibom State are not seen. Yet the managerial headquarter of EXXONMOBIL is in Victoria Island Lagos. Most transactions of the company with its allies, vendors, servicing and, all quality recruitment are carried out in Lagos.
The consequence therefore is that whatever form of taxes that could have accrued to the state account goes elsewhere. The people of Akwa Ibom seldom feel the impact of their blessing, not even the left over from the value chain of oil exploitation and exploration.
Ironically, the EXXONMOBIL house in Lagos is a leased property. It has been the wish, in fact, a diplomatic agitation by the people of the state, even government to relocate to Akwa Ibom State and they have merely been responding with gnashed teeth with tongue in the mouth.
However, while pundits have held it that Akwa Ibom does not have the facilities to accommodate a multi-national some argue that its deliberate denial that is being meted on the people. If it is true that their consideration is based on those contemplations, then they are parasitic who want to suck their host to extinction. Their presence in the state could have gone a long way towards the development of the state.
In the same vein, it is proper to note that the oil production status of Akwa Ibom State is undermined even by the federal government. Across the south-south, being the major oil belt in the country, it is only Akwa Ibom State that lacks the presence of a single federal parastatal associated with petroleum.
This trend might seem an intangible and ignoble issue to worry about, but it is very important to the economic wellbeing of a people. Understanding that everyone cannot work in the oil sector but everybody can make a living from the activities of the oil sector. The society is a web that needs the support of another to survive. In this case, the purchasing power of the oil workers will support the small businesses of the local community. And life goes on.
For purposes records, NAPIM (National Petroleum Investment Management), the investment management arm of NNPC, DPR (Department of Petroleum Resources), are both in Ikoyi, Lagos State. Others like National Content Division (NCD) Petroleum Training Institute (PTI) are in Delta state. Niger Delta Development Commission (NDDC) is located in Rivers State while none; none is located in Akwa Ibom State.
The amount of money earmarked for the proposed building of DPR house in Abuja is not only questionable, but it is indicative of the reluctance of both the federal government and international oil companies to spread development across the region. Early exposure to the teaching of economics says that proximity to source of raw material is an enhancement to production; when did the dynamics change? It is worth finding out.
The issues raised in the whooping expenditure in anticipation of the DPR house should call for a renewed agitation for Fiscal Federalism. The way the funds from the region is used to build Abuja alone while the owners of the resources are languishing in poverty and experiences like this should arouse a collective sense of probity.
Akwa Ibom people will not be wrong if they collectively demand for the relocation of the proposed DPR building to Uyo, the State capital. Frankly, they have no business in Abuja, socially, administratively even politically. These concerns raised to a large extent are valid and needs urgent attention. Aside the allocation that comes into Akwa Ibom State on monthly basis, the home of the Nation’s wealth has nothing to show for being blessed with crude oil.
Residents of Abuja do not in any way feel the negative impacts of oil exploration. It is those living in the hinterlands of the Niger Delta that are affected by this negative trend, it is time the federal Government and IOCs operating in the region look into their well being.