The Niger Delta Congress (NDC), self-described as a socio-political organisation of the ethnic nationalities of the Niger Delta region, says it does not support the Federal Government’s call for bids for 57 oil fields and warns companies planning to participate that they do so at their own risk.
The Department of Petroleum Resources (DPR) had, on June 1, announced the commencement of a bid round for marginal oil fields, the first to take place since 2002. The agency said the exercise was open only to indigenous investors who were interested in exploration and production.
The oil fields on offer are 57 but the DPR was not specific about their locations. Statistics from the agency, however, indicates that 78 out of the 159 oil fields in the country are located in the Niger Delta region.
In its statement obtained on Monday by HumAngle, NPC argued that now was not the time for a marginal bid round considering the alarming levels of oil spillage and environmental pollution in the Niger Delta.
“It should be noted that the Niger Delta peoples are not in support and do not approve of the auctioning of our resources,” the group said.
“We are aware that the announced bidding process is just another means to enrich the elites of the major ethnic groups of this country at our expense since very few Niger Deltans can be said to have the means to partake in it.
“The Niger Delta peoples wish to inform those who would be tempted to partake that they do so at their own risk, as the Niger Delta will resist any attempt to mine oil from our land using whatever means available to us.”
It added, “The Niger Delta Congress wishes to inform the world that the ethnic nationalities of the Niger Delta are being slowly but steadily poisoned to death by activities of international oil companies and their local Joint Venture partners, in collaboration with their foreign home governments and the major ethnic groups of the Nigerian state who have no stake in our environment, and care not for our very existence.
“In doing so, the Niger Delta peoples are being left with no option than to take drastic measures to ensure our very survival which might culminate in the shutting down of all oil exploration activities in the region.”
Meanwhile, the Pan Niger Delta Forum (PANDEF) as well as the Gbo Kabaari Ogoni and Ijaw National Congress have asked the government to give a right of first refusal to people from the Niger Delta in the bidding process.
“We suffer the consequences of pollution as a result of exploitation and exploration activities. Our rivers, our farmlands, our means of livelihood have been decimated. Our young people are unemployed. We insist that this is an opportunity. There are suitable people in the Niger delta with technical, financial capacity to muster funds,” said PANDEF’s National Publicity Secretary Ken Robinson.
“The right of first refusal should be given to the people of the Niger Delta and governments, to bid for these marginal fields. Anything short of this will be considered an attempt to continue to oppress, marginalise and sideline the people of the Niger Delta region in a sector where they should be frontline participants.”