By Nna Anulumadu
President Muhammadu Buhari has approved Anambra’s new status a petroleum-bearing state.
The approval is contained in a letter to Gov. Willie Obiano, which the president’s Chief of Staff, Prof. Ibrahim Gambari, signed.
The letter is in response to an earlier one by Gov. Obiano written on Aug. 24 in which the Anambra State Government requested President Buhari to officially declare the state both oil and gas-bearing.
With the declaration, Anambra State is henceforth automatically entitled to 13 per cent of the sale of petroleum resources from 11 oil wells in its territory — Nzam-1, Alo-1, Ameshi-1, 2, and 3, and Enyie-1, 2 , 3 and 4.
The president also upheld the decision of the Revenue Mobilization Allocation and Fiscal Commission that the 13 per cent proceeds from oil and gas resources from Anambra 1, 2 and 3 oil wells be shared equally between Anambra State and the neighbouring Kogi State until the boundary dispute between the two states is settled.
Buhari used the opportunity of the official declaration of Anambra State as petroleum- bearing to approve the attribution of Okpo-1 oil well to Edo State and the Iji-1 oil well to Delta State and Oda River-1 oil well to Edo State.
The president’s decision has been conveyed to the Minister of State in the Ministry of Petroleum Resources, Chief Timepre Sylva; the chairman of the Revenue Mobilization Allocation and Fiscal Commission, Mr Elias Mbam; and the Minister of Finance, Budget and National Planning, Hajia Zainab Ahmed, for immediate action.
It has also been conveyed to Gov. Ifeanyi Okowa of Delta State and his counterparts in Edo and Kogi states, Mr Godwin Obaseki and Alhaji Bello, respectively.
“The president’s decision is wise and swiftly,’’ declared Gov. Obiano when the president’s actions were conveyed to him yesterday.
“It has been a tough, relentless and strategic battle which our administration waged on behalf of the people of Anambra State in the last two years.
“The state has over the two years received intelligence reports that Sterling Oil Exploration and Energy Producing Company of India has not only illegally and surreptitiously been producing oil since 2014 in the twin towns of Ogwuaniocha and Ogwuikpele in Ogbaru Local Government Area without conducting the statutory environmental and social impact assessment but also attributing the petroleum resources produced from these places to Delta State.’’
The governor used to work in the petroleum industry before he joined banking.
“In spite all did to resolve the matter amicably with the Indian firm, it refused to cooperate which necessitating us to drag them to the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC), the Department of Petroleum Resources which regulates the petroleum industry, the office of the Minister of Justice and Attorney General of the Federation and the Federal Ministry of the Environment.’’
While thanking the Anambra people from different walks of life for their “massive and strategic support during the struggle to give Anambra State its due in oil and gas production in the country, Chief Obiano thanked in particular some individuals from the state for their outstanding roles in the campaign’’.
They are Dr Charles Ofoegbu, a geophysics professor; Mr Frank Edozie, an Engineer, who used to work with the Department of Petroleum Resources and Prof. Solo Chukwulobelu who is the Secretary to the State Government.
Others are Dr Theresa Obiekezie, the Commissioner for Youth and Creative Economy who is also a geophysics professor; Mrs Patricia Igwebuike, the Special Adviser to the Governor of Legal Matters and Petroleum Resources; as well as Mr Arinze Awogu, the Transition Committee chairman of Ogbaru Local Government Area (LGA).
“These are great patriots, highly knowledgeable and first-class professionals, courageous,’’ the governor said about members of the committee, who worked with him round the clock to not only attribute Anambra’s petroleum resources to the state but also get the state officially proclaimed oil-producing so that it would start to get the benefits.
Anambra’s tough journey to becoming an officially oil-producing began in 2013 when Orient Petroleum Company, a private firm supported by the state government, started to produce oil in Aguleri, Anambra East LGA.
No sooner we began,’’ recalled Marcel Ifejiofor, Commissioner for Works, who was then on the Orient Petroleum staff as a senior engineer,than the Aguleri Otu people were attacked by the neighbours in Ibaji LGA of Kogi State, leading to loss of lives and huge assets as well as other serious developments.
“We are confident that the ownership of the oil wells currently in dispute will be resolved in favour of Anambra State, when the boundary dispute between Aguleri Otu and Ibaji is settled by the National Boundary Commission.