Representative of Enugu North Senatorial District, Chukwuma Utazi, has decried the exclusion of Enugu State from the oil-producing states following the recent recognition of Kogi and Anambra, as oil-bearing states.
He was reacting to the Revenue Mobilisation, Allocation and Fiscal Commission’s (RMAFC) recent declaration of Kogi and Anambra states as oil-producing states, insisting that OPL 915 and 916 in the Anambra Basin belonged to Enugu State.
Citing order 43 of the Senate, yesterday, Utazi explained that the three lawmakers from the three states have been pushing for recognition, given the geographical location of the oil wells.
He recalled that in the Eighth National Assembly, the issue of oil and gas deposits in Enugu, Kogi and Anambra states had been a recurrent one in the Senate.
“We were discussing the issue with senators who have been representing the Igala-speaking communities that have boundary with Enugu and Anambra states throughout the Eighth Assembly.
“Following the regularity of our discussions, the Ninth Assembly asked the Department of Petroleum Resources (DPR) to review the issue and settle it permanently among the three states so that they can enjoy the 13 per cent derivation they are entitled to, because we have hydrocarbon deposits in our area,” he said.
He demanded that Enugu should be recognised temporarily so that the three states could benefit from the 13 per cent derivation in the interest of fairness and peace.
“So the Senate Committee on Petroleum (Upstream) invited the DPR and we had an extensive discussion with them. They gave us conditions that any state that want to become an oil producing state should fulfill. Anambra State has Orient Oil Producing Company that has been trying to extract crude oil in that basin.
“After our meeting, the DPR wrote to the committee on July 24, 2018 and that the Orient Petroleum that has been operating in Kogi, Anambra and Enugu has not fulfilled certain conditions, which was clearly stated,” he added.
Utazi further explained that from ongoing, Orient Petroleum had no status of an oil-producing company and as such, Anambra, Kogi and Enugu could not be classified as oil-producing states.
He, however, expressed delight that a solution was in the offing, since he (Utazi), Isaac Alfa (Kogi East Senatorial district) and Stella Adaeze Oduah (Anambra North) jointly sponsored a motion in the Eighth Assembly on the matter.
“We agreed that since the National Boundary Commission (NBC) was unable to resolve the issue, the three states should enjoy the 13 per cent derivation in the interim until a final resolution of the issue.
“My challenge now is that the RMAFC has already recognised Kogi, and Anambra as oil-bearing states, leaving Enugu State behind, but from the letter of recognition shows OPL 915 and 916, which are in our area. Since the RMAFC has recognised Kogi and Anambra, they should extend same to Enugu for the sake of peace,” he stressed.