REPORT OF THE TOWN HALL MEETING HELD AT OBEN

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REPORT OF THE TOWN HALL MEETING HELD AT OBEN Powered By Docstoc
					REPORT OF THE TOWN HALL MEETING
HELD AT OBEN ON WEDNESDAY 24TH
JUNE, 2009.
African Network for Environment and Economic Justice (ANEEJ) with support from
Heinrich Boell Foundation (HBF), Lagos organized a town hall meeting at Oben,
Orhionmwon Local Government Area of Edo State on 24th June, 2009. This was in
pursuance of the Public Eye on Oil Revenue in Niger Delta Project. The meeting
was attended by stakeholder in oben community. ANEEJ team was led by Rev
David Ugolor. Other members of the team include;

   • Innocent Edemhanria
   • Augustine Obayagbona
   • Mary Uwa

The town hall meeting started with Mr. Augustine Obayagbona introducing
himself and other member of ANEEJ team, he told the community members that
African network for environment and economic justice is a non governmental and
non-profit organization with office at number 123 First East Circular Road Benin
City. The community members thereafter introduced themselves one after the
other.

Rev David Ugolor informed the community members about the Public Eye on Oil
Revenue in Niger Delta Project which started in 2003. The project he said was
necessitated by the resource curse phenomenon in the region. He told them that
a fundamental question arose when the bulk of the country’s resources are
generated from the region, yet there is widespread poverty and basic amenities
are lacking in the area. He urged the community members to properly organize
themselves in their engagement with the government to enable them present a
common position in the interest of the entire community. He added that the
community needs to manage the little resources accruing to them from the oil
companies in a transparent manner, and promised them that the outcome of the
town hall meeting will be widely publicized.

He intimated the community members about the willingness of ANEEJ to
commission a research in the area to generate statistics on activities of oil
companies operating in the area so as to determine adequately the level of
corporate social responsibility expected from the oil companies. Adding that areas
of education, health etc, need to be attended to by these oil companies and the
government.

Rev David Ugolor stated further that Edo State Government will soon appoint
chairman and commissioners for Edo State Oil and Gas Producing Area
Development Commission (EDSOGPADEC), and urged the people to organize
themselves to present credible candidate that will truly represent their interest at
the commission. Recently, ANEEJ did an independent analysis of EDSOGPADEC
budget and expenditure and discovered that the way the commission has been
run previously was not proper. And that the way the law establishing the
commission is structured will not give maximum benefit to the people.

He commended the community members for their peaceful nature and told them
that ANEEJ is interested in building their capacity on how to engage the
government. That the community needs to know how to monitor government
activities as they spend oil derivation accruing to the state.

Mr Smart Osayi the chairman oben community youth association in his comment
said that oben community is happy to receive ANEEJ. He informed ANEEJ that
there is no single state government project in oben, even the local government
did do anything for them. Neither did Edo State Oil and Gas Producing Area
Development Commission (EDSOGPADEC), cite any project in their community
even though they had a representative at the commission, but that they only see
EDSOGPADEC projects in neighbouring communities like Ikobi and Iguelaba. He
added that the little projects cited in the community like the renovated primary
school, small market, water project, electricity which recently started working
were provided by the oil companies operating in the area but the community
does maintenance of the projects.
Another community member noted that before now, oben community had no
voice hence state presence is not felt in the area. He stated further that the
people of oben don’t have much to show for the oil been exploited from their
land. He concluded by saying that the people are eager to feel the impact of
government in a peaceful way and made reference to Jesse in delta state where
the villagers are enjoying the facilities provided by government and oil companies.

Speaking, Mr. Osaikhuiwuomwan Ukonmwenyariase thanked Rev David for the
message he brought to the community and pledged that the community will
stand behind ANEEJ to ensure that the community gets what it wants. Adding his
voice, Chief Friday Omoragbon chairman Oben youth league thanked ANEEJ for
the good message. He sued for the sustenance of this collaborative effort
between ANEEJ and oben community.

At the end of the town hall meeting

    • Oben community agreed to work with ANEEJ
    • That there is leadership structure in Oben viz-a-viz the Enogie, Odionwere,
       Elders, Youth League and Community Development Association.
    • ANEEL will work with the leadership structure to ensure that key
       government personal visit oben.
    • ANEEJ will create the platform for the community to lawfully engage the
       government.
    • The outcome of the town hall meeting will be published in the Nigerian
       Observer.