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Pressure mounts on Akwa Ibom government over oil-producing area development commission

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Pressure is mounting on the Akwa Ibom state government to set up a commission to handle the special development needs of the oil-producing areas of the state. The pressure followed the concern over the utilisation of the 13 percent derivation fund meant to develop the oil and gas producing areas in which many felt have not had a fair share of development.

Among those who have expressed worry over the absence of the commission in Akwa Ibom State are Nduese Essien, a former member of the House of Representatives, Ita Enang, a presidential aide on Niger Delta Affairs, and Iroigak Ikann, a former member of the state executive council

Akwa Ibom is said to produce about 504,000 barrels per day (BPD) of crude oil, accounting for 32 percent of Nigeria’s production output but the oil-bearing communities found in the Akwa Ibom senatorial district have often cried out against neglect and marginalisation by the state government.

Speaking during a radio interview in Uyo, Essien noted that while other states in the Niger Delta had already set up such commissions, Akwa Ibom has yet to do so adding that he had always advocated for a commission to address the development of the oil-bearing communities.

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“We have always advocated the establishment of the commission in Akwa Ibom. Many states in the Niger Delta have done so except Akwa Ibom,” he said. He said the issue of the derivation was raised during a meeting between Governors from the South-South region and National Assembly Members in Benin, Edo State.

“On 13% oil derivation, we in the first National Assembly fought for it. The then President (Obasanjo) was not willing to pay the money. We used our position in the National Assembly to compel the then President to pay. The issue of resource control was primarily my idea at a meeting with Governors and members of the National Assembly in Benin.

“It was there that Obong Attah and James Ibori took over the fight. And you know governors had the media at their disposal.”Speaking earlier, the presidential aide had lamented the alleged lack of transparency in the deployment of the derivation fund saying many governors in the region were using the funds wrongly.

According though some states have set up the oil-producing areas commissions, they were starved of funds while Akwa Ibom has not done so.”The governors are only using the money to fly private jets.

“The state government are using the derivation money for something else while sponsoring the communities against the federal government and they will stop production.

“Let me alert you that whenever any community stops oil and gas production, the cost of solving the problem and losses sustained within the period is to credited against the state government and would be debited so that the state governments would be responsible”

Also, Ikann explained that the absence of a development commission for oil-bearing communities has robbed his local government area, Eastern Obolo of basic amenities. He said promises had been made by successive administrations in the state a producing area development commission since the administration of former governor Godswill Akpabio but to no all.