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Kogi can’t be declared oil producing state – Senate Postpones 2019 Budget passage

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THE Senate, yesterday, at plenary, declined a move to recognise Kogi State as an oil-producing state.

The senator, representing Kogi East Senatorial District, Senator Isaac Alfa, moved a motion entitled, ‘Need to Recognise Kogi State as an Oil-Producing State in the floor of the Red Chamber.’

Moving the motion, Alfa recalled that three oil companies, namely Shell BP (now SPDC), Elf (now Total Fina Elf) and Agip Energy, commenced oil exploration in Ibaji since 1952, precisely in Odeke, Echeno, Ihile, Anocha/Uchuchu, Omabo, Ikah, Iregwu and Ujeh, all in Ibaji of the present day Ibaji Local Government Area of Kogi State.

The lawmaker also recalled that the companies collectively drilled 25 exploration wells, two appraisal wells and eight core drill wells in the entire Anambra River Basin, out of which majority of the wells fall within Kogi State, “as these facts were made possible through a letter to the President, Federal Republic of Nigeria, by the former Manager, Drilling, NPDC-NNPC, Engr. Sam A. Uchola, on 21st November, 2003.”

He noted that the exploration activities in Kogi and part of Anambra Basin were later abandoned until July 18, 2001, when the then Kogi Governor, the late Abubakar Audu, wrote to the then Group Managing Director of NNPC to remind him of the earlier discovery of crude oil at Odeke, Echeno, and Anocha communities in Ibaji LGA.

Alfa further recalled that on July 25, 2001, a team of geo-scientist and engineers was drafted to the area to carry out a preliminary investigation on the claims by the Kogi State Government and the resuscitation of the productive core wells, leading to the granting of an oil license, now known as Oil Prospecting License 915 and 916, to an indigenous company known as Orient Petroleum Resources Plc.

The senator said, “Orient Petroleum Resources Plc has been taking crude oil from OPL 915 since 2012 till date, and the percentages of crude oil in the OPL 915 among the three contesting states are as follows: Kogi, 53 per cent; Anambra, 23 per cent; Enugu, 17 per cent; and Edo, seven per cent.

The lawmakers, after considering the motion,  overwhelmingly opposed the first of its six prayers which called on the Senate to urge the federal government to declare Kogi as oil-producing state, “with all the benefits and privileges.”

“The Senate regrets that there has been no drilling activity from the OPL 916, which jointly belongs to Kogi, Anambra and Delta states, while Orient Petroleum has fully drilled four oil wells at OPL 915 – Wells 1, 2, 3 and 4 – with Wells 3 and 4 incontrovertibly located in Ibaji in Kogi State, accounting for 53 per cent of the crude oil.”

Commenting on the motion, Senator Chukwuka Utazi, recalled that a group of lawmakers had sponsored a similar motion.

Deputy President of the Senate, Ike Ekweremadu, corroborated Utazi, making reference to the earlier resolution by the lawmakers on the issue.

Another lawmaker, Senator Magnus Abe stated that the Senate had no powers to declare any state oil-producing, citing Section 162 of the Constitution.

Abe said, “There is a difference between oil-producing and oil-processing. They may be an oil-processing state but they have not contributed to the revenue of this country from oil. When they do that, they will become an oil-producing state.

“This issue of oil-producing cannot be decided on the floor by a motion, it has to be decided by contribution to the Federation Account.”

The Senate also stepped down consideration and passage of the 2019 Appropriation Bill until April 30.

The President of the Senate, Dr Bukola Saraki, who made the announcement at plenary, said the postponement was to allow the Senate Committee on Appropriation to distribute copies of the budget to lawmakers to study.

He said, “some members have not got printed copies of the details and I have directed the Clerk to make sure that latest Monday, we all have printed copies

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