Says years of fight for inclusion worth it
With 14 operational oil wells, state could up its economic growth
The Anambra State government is basking in unprecedented euphoria over its recent inclusion in the grouping of Nigeria’s oil producing states by the Revenue Mobilisation, Allocation and Fiscal Commission (RMAFC).
Willie Obiano, governor of the state, whose second and final term of office lapses with a new gubernatorial election slated for November 6, lauded the development, when he received a letter on August 31 from RMAFC pronouncing the state a petroleum-bearing state, with all the benefits, like entitlement to the 13 percent oil derivation principle in the sharing of the national revenue.
According to C. Don Adinuba, commissioner for information and public enlightenment, Governor Obiano read the letter twice – to be sure it was real. Then, he passed it to three aides around him.
With oil wells at Nzam -1, Alo-1, Ogbu-1, Ameshi 1, 2, 3 and 4, as well as Enyie 1, 2, 3 and 4, in addition to River 1, 2 and 3 oil wells, the state is set to reap big in the oil producing states’ 13 percent oil derivation.
However, the state will share the proceeds from its oil wells equally (50: 50) with Kogi, a state with which it (Anambra) shares a boundary at Aguleri – Abaji area, despite the government’s claim that the boundary dispute between the two states has been resolved.
“The 50: 50 sharing ratio may not go down with some people in Anambra State because, apart from the fact that much of the oil in these parts comes from Anambra, it is the state that developed the three oil wells in the first place,” Governor Obiano said in a statement sent to Business A.M.
“This fight has not been a one-man show, but the collective effort of Anambra people, especially those in my administration who have defied all the odds to fight for their beloved state. For instance, the chairman of the Anambra State Oil and Gas Committee, Engineer Frank Edozie, and chairman of our Technical Committee, Professor Charles Ofoegbu, as well as Professor Solo Chukwubelu who is the Secretary to the State Government; and such persons as: Arinze Awogu, chairman of the Ogbaru Local Government Transition Committee and Mrs Patricia Igwebuike, the Special Adviser on Legal Matters and Petroleum Resources, have not for once rested on their laurels,” Obiano explained further.
He informed that the struggle took years and grit to prosecute (to get Anambra State into the oil producing club); adding that lives were even sacrificed.
“Immediately Orient Petroleum Company, a private company, supported since 2001 by the Anambra State government, began to produce crude oil in the Aguleri area of the state, neighbouring Kogi State began to lay claim to the ownership of the hydrocarbon. People in Ibaji, Kogi State, and Aguleri Otu in Anambra East Local Government Area fought, lives were lost and properties lost. This was in the first part of 2013, a year before I (Obiano) became Anambra governor,” he said.
Obiano stated that, in 2014, Sterling Oil Exploration and Energy Production Company (SEEPCO), an Indian oil company “secretly moved to the neighbouring communities of Ogwuaniocha and Ogwuikpele in Ogbaru Local Government Area of Anambra State, and started to produce oil. The Anambra State government was not aware of this enterprise until 2019 and quickly moved into action when it received a report about the oil drilling, investigated it and found it true”.
He also explained that, for some reason, the oil produced in Ogbaru LGA was attributed to Delta State, and not Anambra State. Worse, there was no environmental and social impact assessment by either the Anambra State government or the Federal Government, resulting in enormous environmental degradation. Efforts by the state government to engage SEEPCO did not yield tangible results.
The state government then approached the Department of Petroleum Resources (DPR), Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC) and the Federal Ministry of Justice to resolve the tango. Later it met the Federal Ministry of Environment, which held a conference in Anambra on the environmental implications of SEEPCO’s activities, where stakeholders criticized the Indian energy firm over its rather surreptitious operations in the state.
Governor Obiano believes that the RMFAC letter to him on August 24 confirms that the state is right about the ownership of the oil wells.