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Published On: Mon, Feb 4th, 2019

Oil exploration: Northern communities demand compensation for land

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From Ahmad Mohammed,Bauchi

Communities residing in the areas were oil exploration is currently on going, especially in Barambu Village in Akko Local Government Area of Gombe State have pleaded with the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC), to pay them compensation for their lands taken for the oil and gas exploration.
The communities made the plea while speaking with reporters on the sidelines of the flag-off of the Spud-in of Kolmani River-II Well Gongola Basin, Upper Benue Trough, by President Muhammadu Buhari on Saturday.
They said that since their farmlands were taken with a promise that they will be compensated, not a dime had been given to any of them, over one and a half years after.
Some of the residents who spoke, told newsmen that they have been forced to stay without food because they no longer have farmlands to cultivate their crops.
One of the residents, Ladi Naboth who lamented bitterly as she spoke with newsmen said: “We are in the village and not the city and they know our major occupation is farming, we cannot eat if we don’t farm our food.
“We plead with them to pity us and pay us the value of our farmlands which is being used for the oil exploration. We are happy that this has been found in our locality and we will benefit from it but before we start benefiting from it, they should pay us so that we can have what to eat and survive.”
She said that besides the compensation for their farmlands, they request that hospitals be built for them because “right now, if we have an emergency, such patient will have to be rushed to Gombe, Alkaleri, Bauchi or Pindiga. If we had a hospital or maternity, we won’t go through that.”
According to her: “I recently put to bed but when I was in labour, I had to be rushed to Pindiga on a motorcycle which is several kilometres away from here.”
Naboth added that they have a school in the area but lacked teachers that will teach their children and they wished that their children are educated.
Another resident who gave his name as Haruna Adamu, said one of the oil wells was sited in their ancestral land but they have not been compensated.
“These lands that were used for this exploration belongs to us, they took them but they don’t regard us as anything. They have refused to give us any compensation for our lands that they took,” he lamented.
Adamu who said he is a farmer and herder lamented that: “We don’t even have work to do there, they don’t look for us to do anything for them where they are working. How can people can from outside and benefit from the wealth that was found on our lands but we don’t benefit from it?”
He said that before their lands were taken, they used to cultivate maize, sorghum and millet “but up till now, they haven’t given us anything, and because of that we couldn’t cultivate our lands as we are used to. We and families are hungry, we have no food to eat. The should come to our rescue.”
In a reaction, a worker with one of the contracting firms who pleaded for anonymity because he was not authorized to speak to the press, said that it was the responsibility of the NNPC to compensate the communities for whatever was taken from them.
He said: “I am from the contractor’s side and I want to tell you that compensation is usually from the Frontier Exploration Services, a body from NNPC. What they do is they asked the contractor to work. they will now later pay the compensations afterwards.”
He said he is worried with the plight of residents and pleaded with them to endure adding that, “I know they will be paid not long from now.”

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