UMANA CALLS FOR A CHANGE IN APPROACH
The Managing Director/Chief Executive Officer of Oil and Gas Free Zones Authority, Mr. Umana Okon Umana has said that the only way to better the Economic Development and Sustainability of the South-South region is to advocate for a change in approach.
Mr. Umana stated this while presenting a paper on the topic; “Oil Resource Mobilization for South-South Development” during the 4th South-South Economic Summit organized by Faculty of Social Science, University of Calabar and held at the Institutions’ Senate Chamber.
As the keynote speaker, during the Summit which has as its theme: “Oil Politics; for the Economic Development of the South-South in the Post Covid-19 Economy”, he said that advocacy for change in approach has been the rule, adding that, there is the need to employ a different strategy by which mobilization pillars, levers and linkages can be activated to deliver self-sustainable economic development for the region.
The CEO stated that Nigeria is a pluralistic State with a Mono-Economy that depends on revenue from resources allocated mostly in minority regions of the country, noting that, majorly, Nigeria’s revenues are derived from crude oil sales, petroleum taxes, mining, rents as well as royalties.
The Distinguished Chairman also said the allocation system since the 1970s has been driven by political considerations such as population and equality of state rather than, by economic factors such as the contribution of each zone to the National purse and development need as it where, this is even as, he disclosed that the introduction of dichotomy between offshore and onshore in 1970 was strictly on the basis for sharing oil revenue through the promulgation of Decree No 113.
Mr. Umana further hinted that with the reduction in offshore and onshore dichotomy between 1970 and 1983, the South-South States began agitating for adequate derivation payment to compensate them for the devastating effects of pollution, the degradation of environment and the destruction of farms and aquatic lives.
In his words; “the agitation for fair allocation formula gave birth to the 2004 Dichotomy Abrogation Act and the recent enactment of the Petroleum Industry Act (PIA)”, acknowledging that it was a great step in the right direction as much of the challenges arising from oil resource allocation remains an unfortunate phase of the oil economy.
Hear him, “the reality of uneven development where the proverbial goose that lays the golden egg is not equitably taken care of; problems of oil spillage and gas flare with the resultant environmental degradation are part of the daily experience of the people of Niger Delta”.
The Chief Executive Officer of Oil and Gas Free Zones Authority urged states in the region to consciously work towards restoring peace, and stability in the region, adding that, the development of the region will be determined by how safe, stable and attractive it is seen.
The Managing Director opined that the BRACED Commission which is an acronym for the South-South States including Bayelsa, Rivers Akwa Ibom, Cross River, Edo and Delta states should be repositioned to provide an effective platform for collaboration among the member states for regional development.
While stating that the struggle for a level playing field in oil resource allocation is still on, he stressed that it was time the South-South States adopted a new approach to the development of the region, because the barges and oil platforms are bound to become relics of history sooner than later as the world moves from fossil fuels towards clean energy.
Speaking, the Vice Chancellor of University of Calabar, Prof Florence Obi assured the organizers of South-South Economic Summit of her unalloyed support towards the achievement of their lofty goals.
Represented by the Chairman, Committee of Deans, University of Calabar, Prof. Idongesit Akpabio the Vice Chancellor stated that the summit will be of immense benefit owing to the fact that knowledge acquired in the summit has the potentials to better the economy of the region and the country at large.
Also speaking, the Branch Controller, Central Bank of Nigeria, Calabar Branch, Glory U. Iniuanam stated that the choice of the theme is very apt and germane to the current efforts to strengthen the growth performance of the Nigeria economy diversity and productive base.
Expounding on her assertion, she said; “my statement above is plausible when viewed in the perspective of the COVID-19 pandemic that has changed the socio-economic landscape of the world and with particular reference to Nigeria”.
While urging participants to brainstorm so as to help policymakers in rejigging policies so that the region will have more pecuniary benefits from oil, the CBN chief called on economists and allied professionals to continue to develop theories, methods, training, practices and encouragement of economic statistical research, as well as, the use of statistical methods in diverse subjects.
Speaking earlier, The Chairman, Local Organizing Committee of the Summit, Prof. (Mrs.) Agnes S. Antai stated that the South-South Economic Summit is a regional version of the annual conference of the Nigeria Economic Society (NES) that aims at providing a platform for scholars, policy makers and practitioners to dissect major socio-economic and political challenges facing South-South geopolitical region and indeed Nigeria with a view to proffering solutions.
She said the Summit is to advocate and proffer sound economic policies to both stakeholders, corporate organizations and government on how to better the economy of South-South and the country at large.
Prof. Antai asserted that the hosting of the summit is timely and has no doubt created an avenue to examine the Economy of the South-South and indeed the Nation in post COVID -19 Nigeria.
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