Nigeria: Bayelsa, Rivers at War over Oil Wells
Bayelsa, Rivers at War over Oil Wells
All is currently not well between President Goodluck Jonathan's home state, Bayelsa, and her mother state, Rivers.
The two states are locked in a potentially dangerous Oil Wells War that could rupture the relative peace in the five front line oil and gas producing states in Southern Nigeria- Akwa Ibom, Bayelsa, Delta, Edo, and Rivers.
Before now, Cross River State was locked in a nerve wrecking 76 oil wells war with Akwa Ibom following the ceding of Bakassi Peninsula to Cameroon.
At the moment, the Bakassi axis of Cross River is still a potentially dangerous flashpoint with Abuja obviously helpless.
With the fresh fire erupting at President Jonathan's backyard coupled with the humanitarian crisis that was thrown up by a rampaging flood, the president will certainly grow goose pimples in the days ahead.
In the mean time, the fire-spitting Governor Chibuike Amaechi, of Rivers, has called on officials of the Bayelsa State Government to look elsewhere for oil wells they can annex.
Amaechi who is the Chair of the country's Governors' Forum, wants officials of Bayelsa to leave the oil wells of Soku and Elem-Sangama communities in his state for Rivers people as they have been in existence even before the creation of Bayelsa.
He gave the directive while declaring open a legislative capacity building programme for the state House of Assembly in Calabar, Cross River capital.
According to Amaechi, "Rivers and Bayelsa states had never had issues with boundaries as the boundaries are well known to all", adding, "since the creation of Bayelsa State there has been no law or agreement ceding any part of Kalabari communities or Rivers State to Bayelsa State."
Talking tough, he said, "we will not allow the attempt by the Bayelsa state government to collect our oil wells, I have read what the Bayelsa Governor said. That the 11th edition of the (administrative) map (of Nigeria) gave them the oil wells. When? They didn’t talk about the 1st edition to the 10th edition, they chose to avoid that, and went to the 11th edition, but the question they should answer is: why avoid the previous editions?"
He, however, explained that the Federal Government has admitted in court to correct the mistakes in the 11th edition, saying that the court documents were filed by their lawyers who admitted the mistakes contained in the map that of the 11th edition.
“But the Federal Government came to court and said, 'oh we made a mistake in the 11th edition, we will correct it'. They should correct it; the documents were filed by their lawyers, not our lawyers. All we want is for the federal government to go back to the 10th edition and correct everything", he said.
Continuing, the governor said, "Bayelsa was created so many years ago, there has been no law ceding that part of Kalabari kingdom to Bayelsa. Now when did it suddenly change, it changed in 2006, but I don’t want to join issues. I want the Kalabari people to represent themselves and I will stand behind them, and all what we are saying is that they should look from the 1st to the 10th edition (of the administrative map) and not an imaginary 11th edition".
"It won’t work; it will certainly not work, no matter how they try to intimidate the agencies of the Federal Government we will continue to go to court and let our people know that the agencies of the federal government are being intimidated, that is what we are saying.”
Governor Amaechi urged Rivers people to stand behind his administration to ensure justice, equity and fair play is achieved over the sudden claims by the Bayelsa state government
“All we want is for Rivers people to stand by us; Soku community has been in Rivers long before Bayelsa was created. Elem- Sangama is not a ward in Bayelsa, but they said they don’t want territory, they want derivation; how can that work? Does oil come from the air? He has already answered the question for us, but we must struggle to get back our oil wells.” Amaechi said.
Speaking further Amaechi expressed gladness that the retreat for the State Lawmakers was holding in Calabar, saying that one of the benefits of the retreat is to acquire knowledge and challenge them to evolve useful contributions that would better the lives of Rivers people.
He said, “very soon we shall present the Appropriation Bill, the kind of bills you have passed into law are useful to the people, development to Rivers and contributes towards making the Assembly a veritable instrument for good governance in the state.”
Also speaking, Governor Liyel Imoke of Cross River, an ally of Amaechi, while appreciating the lawmakers for holding their retreat in Calabar, said no compensation was paid to Bakassi indigenes that are passing through hard times.
“A whole Local Government Area was collected and handed to Cameroon and until now no compensation has been paid to my people, I think it is right for the federal government to look at these problems critically", he said.
Earlier, Rivers state Speaker, Otelemaba Dan Amachree, said the purpose of the retreat was double fold; to lift the level of participation in law making process by the legislators and to keep focus with the purpose for which their people gave them mandate in the various constituencies to represent them.
“Law making represents the desire of the people and how they want to live their lives, it is the legal expression of their voices to ensure good and effective governance of the state”, he said.