By Simeon OSAJIE
A university Don, Prof. Flowrence Masajuwa has suggested the disbandment of Niger/Delta Development Commission (NDDC) and other related agencies for failure in their mission to end poverty and endemic conflicts in the communities.
Prof. Masajuwa made the suggestion while delivery 8th Inaugural Lecture series titled: “The Nigerian International Petroleum Industry: Conspiracy of Silence” at Aliko Dangote Auditorium of the Edo State University Uzairue.
She said that the NDDC and oil producing areas development commission have failed due to government’s inability to alter the opportunities and incentives for rent seekers and allow for active community participation in their development.
Prof. Masajuwa who is the Dean, Faculty of Law at the University further stated that haven made quality contributions to the knowledge of Natural Resources Management through law and policy, it is generally known that the disquieting atmosphere oil communities have found themselves since the advent of the oil industry is due to the absence of transparency in the relationship between the industry and its principal stakeholders.
“The lack of transparency and the use of the revenue for the good of the industry and leaving out the host communities is referred to as conspiracy of silence which often disturbs generations.”
She emphasized that the federal government should look at other sources of generating revenue which she believes will ameliorate the grim environmental and existential reality of oil producing communities.
“Notwithstanding the improved contributions from non-oil sector to revenue, the Nigerian economy have not broken the oil spell by diversifying the sources of income for development, its therefore time government started looking beyond oil revenue from oil producing communities”, she stated.
On the Petroleum Industry Act, Prof.
Masajuwa highlighted some of the objectives to include establish institutions with defined roles and strong governance structures; promote improved environmental measures; promote economic growth through increased oil and gas production and assist host communities in petroleum operation areas to achieve their aspirations.
She said it also promote frontier exploration and create transparency and non-confidentiality; transform NNPC in a viable commercially based and self-sustaining national oil company.
Prof. Masajuwa also looked at the issue of gender in the distribution of the gains and pains of the oil industry by examined the participation of women in oil related decision making in oil producing communities.
The University dean said women suffer innocuous discrimination despite the position of the constitution as stated which provides that; “in furtherance of the social order of the country which is founded on ideals of freedom, equality and justice, very citizen shall have equality of rights, obligation and opportunity before the law,” adding that these rights are enjoyed in breach due to corruption arising from conspiracy of silence.
The first female professor of the university stated that the National Gender Policy (NGP) stipulated the mainstreaming of gender equality into all facets of human activities, hence, it ensures that women’s voices are amplified and their concerns are fully addressed through effective implementation of legislation and proper financing of gender equality work.
The guest lecturer however recommended that federal government should only regulate and issue licenses to anybody that it consider as technically competent to explore the crude oil and get its own share of the exploration through taxes.
“Oil bloc should be owned by its rightful natural owners (communities). Licenses can be given to anybody to explore the bloc but the community must retain their natural statutory 50% shareholding/ownership right of the exploration profit.
“Their 50% royalty should be their inalienable rights and the royalty must be managed by an elected community based government, this way, communities take charge of their development, then there will be no need for PIAs, host communities 3% and the 13% derivation fund,” she posited.
In conclusion she said where accountability is lacking or transparency is opaque, the citizens are left to wonder and in such an atmosphere, trust deficit develops between government and citizens.
Earlier, the Vice Chancellor of the University, Engr. Prof. Emmanuel Aluyor said that one of the hallmark of the university is the uninterrupted academic calendar that the university has diligently maintained as the university has demonstrated resilience and unwavering commitment to providing quality education without compromising on the academic progression of the students.
He expressed appreciation to the exceptional staff of the university, their unwavering dedication to duty, tireless efforts and commitment to excellence have significantly contributed to the towering image of the university.
“Today we have the privilege to witness a historic moment as we have the first woman to give an inaugural lecture at the university. It is my great pleasure to congratulate Prof. Flowrence Masajuwa for her outstanding achievement,” he stated.
He said as the first woman in the series, she serves as an inspiration to young African women everywhere, proving that gender is not a limiting factor in achieving greatness.