Akwa Ibom State House of Assembly has mandated a 10 member ad-hoc committee headed by the member representing Ukanafun, Hon. Otobong Jonathan Akpan to interface with relevant parties and stakeholders with a view of unravelling the controversies surrounding the claims by an oil multinational, Mobil Producing Nigeria Unlimited that it contributed N8 Billion for the construction of Eket-Ibeno road recently commissioned by the state government.
The committee which has 4 weeks to submit report before the House, has as it’s terms of reference: To ascertain the true position surrounding the N8Billion claim by the oil company(Mobil) on Eket-Ibeno road, ascertain the level implementation of the Memorandum of Understanding, MOU, reached between host community and Akwa Ibom State government with particular reference to special project 2. The committee was also mandated to carry out other investigations surrounding the working relationship between ExxonMobil and Akwa Ibom people.
Other members of the ad-hoc committee include, Hon. Barr. Aniefiok Dennis,(Vice – Chairman), Leader of the House, Hon. Udo Kierian Akpan, Chief Whip, Hon. Emmanuel Ekpenyong Bassey, Deputy Leader of the House, Hon. Barr. Ime Okon, Hon. Usoro Akpanusoh, and Hon. Samuel Ufuo. Other members of the committee are, Hon. Nse Essien, Hon. Aniekan Uko, while Mrs. Victoria Udofia is to serve as Clerk of the committee. The decision of the House follows a matter of urgent public importance brought before it by the member representing Esit-Eket /Ibeno State constituency, Hon Usoro Akpanusoh, who drew attention of the Speaker and members of the House to an advertorial published on the pages of the state owned newspaper, The Pioneer Newspaper and bill boards mounted in the host community of the oil company where claims of an N8Billion contribution for the construction of Eket-Ibeno road where published by the company. The lawmaker who informed his colleagues that the action of the oil company has infuriated youths in the area as witnessed in the recent destruction of bill boards mounted on the streets by the company. He prayed the legislature to launch an investigation into the matter with a view of unravelling the truth surrounding the controversies that has generated by the company’s claims to prevent further unrest in the oil producing areas.
“This matter has to do with the people of Akwa Ibom State. This morning i have seen an advert on the pages of Pioneer Newspaper. In 2013, ExxonMobil had an MOU with its host community, and some government officials to pay money for palliative, but the host community and the officials have denied that there is no money paid as palliative fund for oil spill. ExxonMobil claimed that they contributed N8 Billion for the construction of Eket-Ibeno road, and youths of the area went and brought down the bill board mounted in the area. Therefore, Mr. Speaker, i feel that in order to ascertain the veracity of the claim the House should investigate the matter which has raised controversies. I want an ad-hoc committee to be set up to ascertain how and when N8 Billion was paid to Akwa Ibom State government or contributed for the road project “.
Contributing on the matter, members of the House, commended Hon. Usoro for drawing the attention of the House to the issue, saying the matter was already in the front burner discourse in the state.
The representative of ONNA State constituency, Hon Otuekong Nse Essien, accused the oil company of being insensitive, and insincere to the people of its host community over the number of years the company has exploited oil in the area.
“What Mobil has done, they are not sincere to the host community. They are being crafty.
People lost their property as a result of oil spill over 50 years Mobil has been exploiting our resources. So they needed to use 2013 oil spill to use N8Billion to work on the road that costs over N 23 Billion.
Let’s also review previews MOU’s and you would see that these people are not sincere to Akwa Ibom State “.
The member for Oruk Anam, and Leader of the House, Rt. Hon. Udo Kierian, observed that the matter could only be discussed comprehensively if the House was properly furnished with the basic information required. He lampooned the oil oil company for waiting for the state government to construct and access road to its operational facility despite the huge money they were were reaping over the years from their oil exploration activities in the area.
Others lawmakers including, Hon. Samuel Ufuo, Hon. Mark Esset, Hon. Uduak Ududo, and Hon. David Lawrence, agreed that it was necessary for the House to take a cursory look at the activities of the oil company in the state with a view to ascertaining the true position of things.
Inaugurating the committee, Speaker of the House, Rt. Hon. Barr. Onofiok Luke, noted that the matter was already in the public domain, and pointed out the House of Assembly which is saddled with the responsibility of making laws for the good governance of the and peace of the state, can shy away from its role, hence there was need for the legislature to be properly armed with information on the matter raised in order to guide the lawmakers in arriving at a resolution as a state Assembly.
“Most of the issues you raised are in the front burner of public discourse. We are saddled with the responsibility of making laws for the good governance and peace of Akwa Ibom people. There is need for us to have informed position on the matter before we can pass a resolution as a House”.
Also during Thursday plenary, the House passed into law the fiscal responsibility bill, and 2017, sponsored by the Leader of the House, Rt. Hon. Udo Kierian Akpan. It also received a repot of the committee on the Health on the Akwa Ibom State Health Insurance scheme bill, 2016.
A bill for a law to establish the Akwa Ibom State Sports Development Fund and for other matters connected therewith, sponsored by the member representing ONNA, Hon. Nse Essien, scaled first reading.