13th December, 2010
Professor Pat Okedinachi Utomi, Chairman of the Social Democratic Mega Party and aÂ presidential hopeful has lent a voice to the joint call of the US and the EuropeanÂ Union for better accountability for what remains of the oil and gas resources of theÂ nation.
In a statementÂ from his office at the weekend, Utomi said the government owedÂ Nigerians a duty to make the best of the depleting resource that is stillÂ theÂ mainstay of the nation’s economy.
The Nigerian situation hadÂ recently come up on the agenda of the US-EU EnergyÂ Council Ministerial Meeting which held in Lisbon, Portugal. There, respondents,Â including the US Secretary of State, Mrs. Hillary Clinton; Deputy Secretary, USÂ Department of Energy, Mr. Daniel Poneman; EU High Representative, Catherine Ashton;Â and Energy Minister, Freya Van den Bossche, expressed exasperation at the authorityÂ in Nigeria over the continued insulation of a large section of the Nigerian societyÂ from the benefits derived from the country’sÂ natural resources.
They argued that authority should do more to transform the national economy with theÂ proceeds from oil and gas,Â especially the comatose power sector â€œto enhance accessÂ to electricity for Nigeriaâ€˜s citizens.â€
The communiquÃ© from the meeting read in part: â€œWe directed the Energy SecurityÂ Working Group toâ€¦ encourage the Nigerian government to use its oil and gas resourcesÂ to promote economic development to the long-term benefit of the nation.â€
Utomi highlighted the urgency with which government ought to address the issue.Â Pointing to the recent report of the Department of Petroleum Resources that theÂ nationâ€™s hydrobarbon deposit would be totally depleted in the next 25 years at theÂ rate of present depletion, he said government needs to make the best use of whatÂ remains of this gift of nature to transform the national economy.
Prof. Utomi had at a different forum recommended to the federal authority thatÂ instead of lumping the total proceeds from the oil and gas into a Federation AccountÂ for total disposal to all sectors of government, a Stabilisation Account as well asÂ a â€œFuture Fundâ€ should be established.
He recommended that the Federation Account should attract not more than 40 percentÂ from the oil income that would be available for disposal to the federal government,Â the states as well as the third tier of government at the local level.
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