Violent Clashes Feared as Enugu, Kogi challenge Anambra's Oil-Producing Status
President Goodluck Jonathan's proclamation of Anambra State as an oil-producing entity has fueled protests by youths of the three states which if not contained could lead to violent clashes within the precinct of the oil wells.
Tension has been mounting in Anambra State as well as in neighboring Kogi and Enugu States barely a few days after President Goodluck Jonathan, inaugurated Orient Petroleum situated in Aguleri-Otu, Anambra East Local Government Area of Anambra State, and declared Anambra the 10th oil-producing State in Nigeria.
In the wake of the recent inauguration and the proclamation of Anambra State as an oil-producing entity by President Jonathan, both the Kogi and Enugu State governments have staked their claims to ownership of the land where the oil wells are located, thus sparking a simmering crisis.
The Kogi State Governor, Alhaji Idris Wada, fired the first salvo when, in a swift reaction to Jonathan's proclamation, he implored his people to protect the installations and assets of Orient Petroleum Resources (OPR) on Ibaji land. Wada believes that Kogi and Anambra States should have equal titles as far as Orient Refinery is concerned.
But Governor Peter Obi immediately countered this assertion in a broadcast when he said the oil wells currently being exploited by Orient Petroleum Resources belongs to the State. Gov. Obi, who described the situation as unfortunate, lamented that Enugu and Kogi states had waited for successive Anambra administrations to make effective investments in the realization of Orient Petroleum before showing up to partake in its success.
'It is pertinent to recall that Orient was formed by the administration of Dr. Chinwoke Mbadinuju in 2001 and was allocated oil fields domiciled in Anambra State. The board is peopled by prominent Nigerians of Anambra extraction, such as Chief Emeka Anyaoku (Chairman), Dr. Alex Ekwueme (Vice-Chairman) and Chief Arthur Mbanefo… Though, Dr. Mbadinuju did not make any direct monetary contribution, however, under Dr. Chris Ngige, Anambra State Government invested the sum of N100 Million naira (N100 Million) in the project, with the vision and belief in the positive impact of the project on the economy,' he said.
The Anambra Governor also explained that his administration has 'invested N4.4 billion in it directly and indirectly. This bolstered the confidence of other investors in the venture, thus making its commissioning a reality. Whilst my predecessors never visited the site, I personally laid the foundation of the refinery. I have also visited the site several times since 2006 during which no group or state raised ownership issue.'
Huhuonline.com understands that a few weeks ago, youths in Kogi and Enugu States embarked on a protest march, during which they threatened to stop Orient Petroleum project. After the protests by Enugu and Kogi youths, Anambra State youths under the umbrella of the Association of Anambra Town Unions (ASATU), warned Kogi and Enugu States to steer clear of Orient Petroleum in Aguleri Otu in Anambra East Local Government Area or be prepared for a showdown.
Although the situation appears calm, it is obvious the end has not been heard on the issue as each of the three States still nurse as much bitterness arising from the claim of ownership. It is expected, therefore, that the commission on boundary disputes would wade in early and resolve the seeming crisis by affirming the ownership of the disputed land.