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allAfrica.com: Oil Coys Should Forfeit Part of their Income for the Development of Host Communities?

Hayford Alile
Sam Eyoboka, Vanguard (Nigeria)

DISTURBED by the un-ending crises in the Niger Delta, the chairman of Oceanic Bank International and Spiritual leader of Saint Joseph Chosen Church of God, Apostle Hayford Alile, has advocated an arrangement where licences of oil blocks will forfeit part of their income for the development of the host communities.

He also questioned the rationale behind multinational oil corporations operating in Nigeria being quoted in their home Stock Markets without being quoted in the Nigerian Stock Market, stressing that secrecy surrounding the operations of oil companies in the country calls for serious scrutiny.

In an interactive session with newsmen in Lagos, the Apostle, who was the pioneer managing director of the Nigerian Stock Exchange, NSE, said in view of what is currently happening in the Niger Delta, the Federal Government must now consider taking a second look at the operations of foreign oil companies in the country.

“Why should Shell, British Petroleum, Conoil, Chevron and such like be quoted in their countries’ stock markets and are not quoted here?” he queried.

“If these foreign companies are quoted in the Nigerian Stock Market and there is transparency and accountability in their operations, the tension in the area will reduce because nobody can go and set fire on pipelines in the Delta if they own some shares in the companies,” he said.

While calling for an upward review of the derivation formula for a sustainable peace in the Niger Delta, Apostle Alile said there is the urgent need for the incoming administration to make sure that these joint venture arrangements of the country are broken down for the proper understanding of every Nigerian.

Though the cleric is not happy with political leaders in the Niger Delta who he accused of collecting huge oil revenues without ploughing such monies to the benefit of the citizens of the area, he pointed out that a definite arrangement should be put in place so that new licences are issued to persons who will commit 15 or 20 per cent of same to the development of the host communities.

On the perennial issue of fuel scarcity, Apostle Alile said there is no justifiable reason why the nation’s four refineries should be grounded for such a long time without anybody giving the Nigerian public a true position of things.

“Our neighbours who depend on Nigeria for their fuel consumption do not have fuel scarcity as we, the producers, do,” he said, arguing that the nation’s four oil refineries are obsolete and desire to be replaced completely.

He disagreed with government officials whose only explanation each time there is fuel scarcity was price differential, stating that increase in prices without a corresponding increase in allocation of funds to the nation’s education sector is tantamount to mortgaging our collective future.

Apostle Alile argued that the democratic culture we have been trying to build can only suffice if there is a high level of middle class which the prolonged military interregnum had decimated.

According to him, a working middle class can only be built when the nation’s leaders make deliberate efforts to educate the teaming number of Nigerian youths who currently appear to lack direction.

“We are still babies when you talk of democratic practice,” he added “but, in all the different models of public governance, democracy is still the best. Thank God we have just finished one demographic exercise, though we still cannot tell how many of the lot are educated.”

Emphasising the need to nurture the democratic culture to take root in the country, Alile said millions of Nigerians still go to bed without dinner every night, adding that it was lack of proper planning on the part of our leaders.

Published: Feb 19, 2007

Distributed by AllAfrica Global Media. (allafrica.com)

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