Florence Masajuwa, dean, Faculty of Law at the Edo State University, Uzuaire, has called for the scrapping of Niger Delta Development Commission (NDDC) and other related agencies for failure to end poverty and endemic conflicts in oil-producing communities.
Masajuwa made the call at the weekend while delivering the 8th inaugural lecture of the university with the theme, ‘The Nigerian International Petroleum Industry: Conspiracy of Silence.’
The Professor of Law opined that the unfavourable atmosphere of the oil producing communities existing since the advent of the oil industry was due to the absence of transparency in the relationship between the industry and its principal stakeholders.
She noted that the lack of transparency and the use of the revenue for the good of the industry and thereby leaving out the host communities is referred to as conspiracy of silence which often disturbs generations.
While urging the Federal Government to look for other sources of generating revenue, she added that the source will help to ameliorate the unbearable environmental and existential reality of oil producing communities.
“Notwithstanding, the improved contributions from non-oil sector to revenue, the Nigerian economy have not broken the oil spell by diversifying the sources of income for development.
“It is therefore, time for government to start looking beyond oil revenue from oil producing communities,” she said.
The first female professor in the University, who also spoke on the Petroleum Industry Act (PIA), highlighted some of the objectives of the Act to include establish institutions with defined roles and strong governance structures.
Others are to promote improved environmental measures, promote economic growth through increased oil and gas production and assist host communities in petroleum operation areas to achieve their aspirations.
She posited that the PIA also promote frontier exploration and create transparency and non-confidentiality, transform NNPC in a viable commercially based and self-sustaining national oil company.
Masajuwa, however, recommended that federal government should regulate and issue licenses to only those that are technically competent to explore the crude oil and get its own share of the exploration through taxes.
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“Oil bloc should be owned by its rightful natural owners (communities). Licenses can be given to anybody to explore the bloc but the community must retain their natural statutory 50% shareholding/ownership right of the exploration profit.
“The 50% royalty should be their inalienable rights and the royalty must be managed by an elected community based government, this way, communities take charge of their development, then there will be no need for PIAs, host communities 3% and the 13% derivation fund,” she added.
She opined that where accountability is lacking or transparency is opaque, the citizens are left to wonder and in such an atmosphere, trust deficit develops between government and citizens.