Alhaji Mohammadu Buhari,
The President and Commander in Chief, Federal Republic Of Nigeria, Aso Rock, Abuja.
It has become necessary to react to the “ADVERTORIAL” by Oron Union
carried in THE POST WEEKDAY newspaper of 14th July 2021 titled “ An
open letter to President Muhammadu Buhari Re: Constitution of the
Management of Board of NDDC: Setting the Records Straight”.
The purpose of this response is to avail interested members of the
public the opportunity to assess the issues at stake and decide for
themselves whether or not Oron Union has “set the records straight” as
she would want the public to believe. It would be recalled that on 7
July 2021 Ekid People’s Union wrote an open letter to the President of
the Federal Republic of Nigeria, Alhaji Muhammadu Buhari in their bid
to make a case for appointment of her indigenes into, the yet to be
constituted Management Board of the NDDC. The letter urged Mr.
President to respect the criteria for appointments into the Board as
provided for by the NDDC Establishment Act 2000. Ekid Union noted
that in the NDDC Act 2000, provision has been made for rotation of the
positions to the Board among member States as well as the core oil
producing Local Government Areas of the constituent States of the commission.
Mention was specifically made that the Presidency did not follow the law
in the appointment of the Executive Director, Finance and
Administration (EDFA) into the last Interim Board, neither was the
moral persuasion that presented itself at that time taken into
consideration. Their argument is that the EDFA position should have
gone to somebody from Eket Local Government Area that has not
produced any Board or Representative member, since the inception of
NDDC in 2000 till now, instead of someone from Okobo Local
Government Area; or in the alternative an indigene of Esit Eket Local
Government Area should have been considered to compensate for the
loss of Mr. Ibanga Etang from Esit Eket Local Government Area, the
immediate past occupant of the office who died untimely in active
From the simple but civilly worded letter of request to Mr. President by
the Ekid Union for appointment of her indigenes into the NDDC Board,
Oron Union has come up with a reply that raised so many issues; some of
which must be addressed in order to guide the unsuspecting public from
being misled, considering the fact that Oron Union is a very
outstanding and formidable ethnic union in Nigeria, thus there is that
temptation to take all she says as an absolute truth.
While, it is agreed that Oro Nation or what is politically referred to as
Oron Federal Constituency consists of the five (5) Local Government
Areas of Mbo, Okobo, Oron, Urue Offong Oruko and Udung Uko it is
incorrect to tag these 5 Local Government Areas as littoral or coastal
as they do not directly abort the Atlantic Coastline. They may be
regarded as shoreline Local Government Areas. The second issue is that
it is absolutely untrue that the five (5) Oro Nation Local Government
Areas are the largest oil/gas producing community accounting for over
eighty percent (80%) of Akwa Ibom State oil production figure to the
The implication from this Oron Union’s postulation is an attempt to cajole
and misled the public to believing that Ibeno Local Government Area,
Eket Local Government Area, Esit Eket Local Government Area, Onna
Local Government Area, Ikot Abasi Local Government Area, Mkpat Enin
Local Government Area and Eastern Obolo Local Government Area that
are known and associated with the prolific oil wells of the Niger Delta
Basin are accountable to only less than twenty percent (20%) of the
Akwa Ibom State total oil output.
Why was it necessary for Oron Union to use the Federal Constituency
as the basis for reporting on the quantum of oil production in Akwa Ibom
State whereas the DPR reports with the Local Government Area as the
basic unit? If we were to go by this logic, it can as well be stated that
Uyo Federal Constituency is oil bearing, because Uruan Local Government
Area, a component part of the Constituency, is oil bearing. It is
therefore untrue and misleading for Oron Union to describe all the five
Local Government Areas of the Oron Constituency as oil/gas producing.
The record with the DPR does not say so. The report of the Revenue
Mobilization, Allocation and Fiscal Commission (RMAFC, 2000)
recognized the following Local Government Areas as oil producing in
Akwa Ibom State, they are: Ibeno, Eket, Esit Eket, Onna, Ikot Abasi,
Eastern Obolo, Mkpat Enin and Mbo Local Government Areas. Each entity
has her quantum of oil production attached, and it would be ridiculous to
think or expect any sensible person to believe that Mbo Local
Government Area alone would have an oil production figure higher than
the figures of the other seven(7) Local Government Areas combined, as
Oron Union has repeatedly stated. It is also very unfortunate that the
Oron Union believes that the Resolution of the National Assembly as the
one passed on 16th May, 2012 can turn an oil bearing or a non oil bearing
community to an oil producing community. The Constitution of the
Federal Republic of Nigeria (1999) as amended has not given the
Legislative body the authority to do so. The powers to decide on the
status of a community as to whether such is oil producing or not reside
with the Department of Petroleum Resources (DPR) and Nigerian
National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC), who are working in concert with
the Revenue Mobilization, Allocation and Fiscal Commission (RMAFC).
What purpose did conveying the Resolution passed by the National
Assembly recognizing Oron Federal Constituency as oil producing
community to the Secretary to the Government of the Federation, the
Governor of Akwa Ibom State and MD, NDDC on 9
th July, 2012 serve?
Wouldn’t it have saved time and energy to channel any complaint about
the oil producing status of the Oro 5 Local Government Areas through
the NNPC and DPR that have authority on this matter than engage the services of the National Assembly?
Oron Union knows and has listed the oil companies currently operating
within the region in question, to include Moni Pulo, Addax, Universal
Energy, Oriental Energy, Shell Petroleum, Amocon, Total E&P and
ExxonMobil. It is a known fact that these companies were assigned their
acreages for operation by NNPC and DPR, so the latter know the owners
of the territory that these companies are operating from. It is
mandatory that the oil companies report to the Joint Venture or
Regulatory Partner, the NNPC and DPR the oil production figures on a
regular basis. It is therefore the DPR and NNPC that know which
communities are oil producing as well as their quantum of production.
Another issue that needs to be addressed in all the inaccurate points
thrown up by the Oron Union’s write-up is the un-warranted and
uncharitable attempt to try to portray both Eket and Esit Eket as being
land locked Local Government Areas. It is a known fact that the Ekid
people of Eket and Esit Eket Local Government Areas are the bonafide
owners of Akoiyak land of the south eastern Nigeria.
This land is also
known as the Stubb’s Creek Forest Reserve. The ownership of this land
had long been settled and confirmed by the Privy Council Judgment of
1916 and 1918 in England.
The Federal Government constituted Justice Akpata’s Commission of
Enquiry of 1993 also re-affirmed the position of the Privy Council
Judgment and the ownership of the Akoiyak land by Ekid peole. Since
the decisions by the learned judges in favour of the Ekid people, there
has been no contradictory legal opinion and there will never be. For the
benefit of those unfamiliar with the geography and the environmental
set-up, Akoiyak is a strip of mangrove swamp and wetland forest of a
few kilometers in width, stretching from the left of Qua Iboe River
estuary eastwards to Okposo fishing settlements and it aborts directly
the Atlantic Seaboard.
Since the Ekid people are the owners of the Akoiyak land or Stubb’s
Creek Forest Reserve, and this land is not only contiguous with the sea
but directly aborts the Atlantic seaboard, how can and why would any
right thinking person describe Eket and Esit Eket as being landlocked?
Akwa Ibom State is classified as a littoral or coastal State only because
of the stretch of this Ekid ancestral Akoiyak land which is in contiguity
with the Atlantic Ocean.
As Oron Union has rightly slated, over 90% of Akwa Ibom State oil
output is from the off-shore environment in the continental shelf. A
coastline must abort a community or a Local Government Area before
the latter can be regarded as littoral, and hence be accredited with oil
production figures from the off-shore oil wells within its longitudinal
coordinates. It is for this reason that the Supreme Court of Nigeria in
2012 held that Cross River State is a non-littoral and a non-oil producing
state after the whole Bakassi Peninsula inclusive of Western Bakassi
which made Cross River State littoral was ceded to the Republic of
Cameroon from Nigeria by the judgment of the International Court of
Justice in 2002.
Since Cross River State is not producing from any known
on-shore well, it returns with zero allocation from the Derivation Fund.
Cross River State is also not a Maritime State and it is doubtful if there
is at the moment a maritime boundary between the Cross River State
and Akwa Ibom State, after same was obliterated following the
implementation by Nigeria of that ruling of the International Court of
Justice. Meanwhile, the Oron Union is claiming that Oron Federal
Constituency is sharing a Maritime boundary with Cross River State. It
is the opinion of Oron Union that the 76 off-shore oil wells that the
court decision went against Cross River State in favour of Akwa Ibom
State are now owned by the latter because they are in Oro waters. This
does not sound logical in anyway. To know whether those off-shore oil
wells are in Oro waters and can be credited to Oron Federal
Constituency, the coastline (not shoreline) must be projected or
extended from the point at Qua Iboe River estuary, straight eastward
to see which land of the 5 Local Government Areas the projected or
extended coastline has aborted in order to give it a littoral status.
Longitudinal coordinates of the off-shore oil wells should also be taken
into account in deciding where the wells belong.
Oron Union must first and foremost find out how littoral the Oron
Federal Constituency is and if on the positive; the length of its coastline
(not shoreline) compared to the stretch from Ikot Abasi axis in the west
to Okposo settlement in the east to justify the claim of having the
majority (over 80%) share of production of the over 90% of the Akwa
Ibom State oil that is derived from the off-shore environment. It is important we keep these records straight for posterity.
The record of appointments into the NDDC Board since its inception in
2000 as presented in the write-up by Oron Union should be kept in view
and judged with the provision in the NDDC Act (2000) on Appointments
in mind. From the table of NDDC Board appointments with published
names from the inception till date as supplied by Oron Union, it is clear
that out of the seven (7) Commissioner/State Representative positions
that were given to Akwa Ibom State; three (3) went to Esit Eket Local
Government Area, two (2) were held by Mkpat Enin Local Government
Area while one (1) each was given to Ikot Abasi and Mbo Local
Government Areas. The table also listed eight (8) positions in the
Executive Cadre where Ibeno Local Government Area enjoyed three (3)
slots, Esit Eket had two (2), while Onna, Ikot Abasi and Okobo Local
Government Areas had one (1) position each. It is to be noted that Okobo
Local Government Area is not reflected on the DPR record as an oil
The Oron Union tabulation of appointments on the Board of NDDC has
clearly shown that Eket Local Government Area, one of the leading oil
producing communities in Akwa Ibom State has not enjoyed any NDDC
Board appointment since its inception in 2000, thus justifying the
complaints in that letter to Mr. President. The other oil producing
community that has so far also not been considered in the NDDC
appointment is Eastern Obolo Local Government Area.
In conclusion, it is a well known fact that oil companies like Universal
(Savanah) Energy and Moni Pulo are producing oil from the on-shore
environment of Mbo Local Government Area in the so called marginal field.
But this field is in no way as prolific as the off-shore counterparts.
The on-shore wells at Mbo, Esit Eket and others account for less than
10% of the Akwa Ibom State total oil output, while the major production
is from the off-shore wells scattered about on the continental shelf.
Secondly, only those littoral Local Government Areas can rightly claim
the share in the production from the off-shore wells. Eket Local
Government Area and Esit Eket Local Government Area are littoral and
cannot be described as land locked because their ancestral Akoiyak land
is in direct contact with the Atlantic seaboard. Eight Local Government
Areas in Akwa Ibom State are currently recognized by DPR as oil
producing and they are: Ibeno, Eket, Esit Eket, Onna, Ikot Abasi,
Eastern Obolo, Mkpat Enin and Mbo Local Government Areas. Out of
these, only Eket and Eastern Obolo Local Government Areas are yet to
get appointments into the NDDC Board. It is only the DPR and NNPC
that have the records and authority to decide on the oil producing status
of any community. The idea of dragging in the National Assembly to play
this role is abnormal and must be discouraged.
Further exchange of hot words between the two respectable Unions of
Ekid and Oro over this issue of pending NDDC Board appointments for
Akwa Ibom State may not be necessary. We can only pray and hope that
the guideline in the NDDC Act on appointments is respected. The
government has the record and knows from where it should normally make the appointments.
Etie Ben Akpan, Ph.D
Professor of Paleontology and Marine Ecology
Speaker, Federal House of Representatives, Secretary of the Federation, Chief of Staff to the President, Minister of Niger Delta Affairs, Chairman PANDEF.