Nigerian governors demand ownership rights to oil, gas resources

…seeks review of exclusive list

Ezeme Solomon

The Nigeria Governors’ Forum (NGF) has once again demanded ownership rights to the oil and gas resources in their domain. They however requested for the review of that particular provision which is on the exclusive legislative list of the Federal Government, to accommodate participation of states and local governments.

Dr. Kayode Fayemi, Chairman of the forum, made this request during the Governors’ Forum on Natural Energy, Oil and Gas at the recently concluded fifth Nigeria International Energy Summit (NIES) in Abuja.

EnergyDay checks revealed that the Section 44(3) of the 1999 Nigerian Constitution (as amended), vested the exclusive control, ownership, and management of oil and gas in the Federal Government through the Land Use Act and Petroleum Act.

That provision of the constitution does not give the right of ownership to the State or Local Government where the oil and gas are situated. This, EnergyDay gathered, was because the oil and gas resources are held in trust by the Federal Government on behalf of Nigerian citizens for the overall benefit and development of the country.

Fayemi however recalled that when he was the Minister of Mines and Steel Development, he reviewed the Act regulating the sector to accommodate more states and local governments’ participation.

This is the second time the NGF is making such a demand regarding right on the exclusive legislative list reserved only for the Federal Government.

Recall that the Governors Forum (NGF) had through a letter written by Dr.Fayemi to the Senate, declared that it is “unconstitutional” for the upper legislative chamber to consider and pass a bill that treats the federation as a “single electricity sector”, implying that it is only on the exclusive legislative list.

In the letter addressed to Gabriel Suswam, Chairman of the Senate Committee on Power, and dated February 22 with Ahmad Lawan, the Senate President copied, the forum expressed its displeasure with the legislation which limits state governments from building electricity infrastructure in areas that are not covered by the national grid.

Dr.Fayemi in the letter noted that it was high time the states manage their power challenges themselves.

This agitation led to the voting and successful removal of power generation, transmission and distribution from the exclusive legislative list.

The new Act passed during a plenary session on last week Tuesday by the upper legislative chamber now allows state governments to generate, transmit and distribute electricity in areas covered by the National Grid and for related power issues.

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