Chairman, Senate Committee on Primary Healthcare and Communicable Diseases, Sen. Chukwuka Utazi, yesterday, decried the exclusion of Enugu State from benefitting from the 13 percent derivation fund and denial of membership of the club of oil producing states in the country.
Utazi, a member of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), representing Enugu North Senatorial District who expressed his misgivings during yesterdays plenary, recalled that the dispute over oil and gas deposits found at the boundaries of Enugu, Kogi and Anambra states has been a recurrent issue in the parliament for many years. Rising on Order 43 of the Senate Rules, the lawmaker said that the issue engaged the attention of lawmakers representing the three states during the 8th National Assembly.
He said that following the frequency of the discussion, the Senate asked the Department of Petroleum Resources (DPR) to look into the issue to find a way of settling it amicably.
According to him, that intervention was designed to find a permanent solution to the dispute so that three states could enjoy the 13% derivation that they were entitled to as a result of hydrocarbon deposits in their areas.
Utazi disclosed that the Senate Committee on Petroleum Upstream invited the Department of Petroleum Resources (DPR) and had an extensive discussion with them.
“They gave us conditions that any state that wants to become an oil producing state must fulfil. I want to say that Anambra State has an Orient Oil Producing Company that has been trying to extract crude oil in that basin.
“After our meeting the Department of Petroleum Resources wrote to the Senate Committee on Petroleum Resources (Upstream) on 24th July, 2018 and we had an issue here that the Orient Petroleum that is operating between Kogi, Anambra and Enugu has not fulfilled certain conditions,” he said.
The lawmaker said that in view of the fact that Orient Petroleum Company had no status as an oil producing company at that time, the DPR said that Anambra, Kogi and Enugu could not be classified as oil producing states.
“I’m happy that we are inching towards solution of this matter which in the 8th Assembly we jointly sponsored a motion here by the entire Senators from that zone to wit: Senator Isaac Alfa, Kogi East Senatorial district,
Senator Chukwuma Utazi, Enugu North Senatorial district and Senator Stella Adaeze Oduah Anambra North. “We all agreed that since the National Boundary Commission was not able to solve this problem, the three affected states should, in the interim, enjoy the 13% derivation till when the problem would be solved
“My problem now is that the Revenue Mobilisation Allocation and Fiscal Commission (RMAFC) has gone ahead to recognise Kogi, and Anambra. What is left now is Enugu State because from the letter they have written, OPL 915 and 916 are in our area.
“I want to put on record here that since the RMAFC has accorded recognition to our neighbours, Kogi and Anambra, they should extend same to Enugu State, so that there will be peace,” he said.