Delegates to the National Conference yesterday overwhelmingly rejected the recommendation of the Committee on Environment for the removal of the Land Use Act from the constitution, instead gave nod to resource democracy.
The Land Use Act had generated heated debated and had to be deferred last week following strong opposition from Northern delegates, who saw the recommendation “capitalist” intended to deprive people of access to land.
When the matter was resurrected for final consideration, delegates insisted on retention of the Act in the constitution because “Its removal would lead to money bags buying off lands at will”.
However, they accepted the recommendation for the resource democracy, which they described as the right by the people to own and manage their resources by prospecting for and developing such resources in their territories.
Chairman of the committee, Sen. Florence Ita-Giwa, had while presenting the report said every recommendation was taken after exhaustive consultation, researched and deliberation stressing that the resource for democracy was borne of lapses in the present compensatory laws.
Further, delegates applauded the contributions of experts and views and suggestions of professional environmentalists were reflected in the recommendations.
Accordingly, the committee’s recommendation that compensation be paid directly to the host communities instead of the federation government in the case of royalties and states in the case of oil spillage and other accruable was overwhelmingly accepted.
Notably contributions at plenary came from Ledum Mitee and Chief Edwin Clark who pointed out factual errors and inconclusive analysis in specific areas, but the delegates accepted the recommendations without much amendments.
Chief Edwin Clark, in particular, said there was nothing new about most of the recommendations of the committee; explaining that what was lacking was the political will on the part of the leaders to accept suggestions and have them implemented.
“We in the riverine areas, live on top of water but we have no water to drink. We cannot farm. We cannot do fishing. The vegetation has changed,” adding that pipelines that were laid in 1956 have grown old but remain unchanged.