By Olaolu Oladipo, Lagos
Speaker of the Lagos state House of Assembly has advised that oil exploration companies operating in the state should stop production for the state government to prepare properly so as to avoid repetition of the problems bedevilling the Niger Delta and other oil producing states. The speaker’s position was sequel to a motion moved at plenary on Monday by the Chairman of the House Committee on Energy and Mineral Resources, Hon. Folajimi Mohammed to the effect that efforts must be made to ensure that the state does not go the way of Niger Delta and other oil producing states in Nigeria, who he said are suffering from environmental degradation with the activities of oil companies.
Obasa stated that there was need for the state government to be pro-active on the matter and learn from the past.
“We must safeguard the host communities and we must commend the companies that have been investing in oil exploration in the state over the years before oil was eventually discovered there.
“All necessary infrastructures must be put in place to protect the state and the host communities so that we would prevent what is happening in Niger Delta from happening in Lagos State,” he said.
Mohammed had in the Motion called for a stakeholders meeting to discuss the socio-economic importance of the exploration of oil in the state and other related issues to prevent the Niger Delta experience.
He stressed that the discovery of oil in the state has called for the recognition of the state as an oil producing state, but that it was important to consider the consequences of the exploration.
After extensive debate of the motion the House passed a resolution calling for stakeholders meeting over the discovery and exploration of oil in Badagry area of the state.
Some of the stakeholders identified by the lawmakers include exploration companies, state officials and the host communities.
Hon. Rotimi Olowo (Somolu 1), made reference to the degradation of Rivers State after the discovery of oil in the state, and pointed out that adequate infrastructure should be provided for the people of the area.
He said further that despite the fact that Nigerians were happy, when oil was initially discovered in the country, it later turned to a source of sadness with the activities of the oil companies.
Supporting Hon. Gbolahan Yishawu (Eti Osa 2) added that a special account should be created for the 13% derivation that would accrue to the state from the Federal Government as an oil producing state.
The lawmaker from Badagry Constituency 2, Hon. David Setonji explained that he received the news of the discovery with mixed feelings.
He however, expressed fears that the exploration would negatively affect his people, and that a percentage of what would accrue to the state from oil revenue should be given to the area.
He said: “fishing activities would be affected in the area if the government does not do anything about it. We need Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA) on the discovery to know what would eventually happen to our people, when exploration starts.
“We should take all the necessary steps so that we would not regret the discovery,” he said.
Another lawmaker from Badagry but who is representing Ojo Constituency 1 in the Assembly, Hon. Victor Akande said that the oil companies should be made to employ 60% Lagos residents, especially those from Badagry area.
Also speaking, the Deputy Speaker of the House, Hon. Wasiu Eshinlokun, observed that there was need to learn from the past with the destruction of marine life, environmental pollution and oil spillage in the Niger Delta.
He recalled the efforts of the past government to provide palliatives for oil producing states and the people of the Niger Delta in the country, and that the oil companies must tell the state government how they would handle the consequences of the exploration.