A constitutional lawyer and Senior Advocate of Nigeria (SAN), Mr. Femi Falana, has faulted the report that emanated from the Senate that 83 per cent of oil bocks are owned by the northerners, describing it as outdated and misleading.
THISDAY had reported last week that the oil concessions referred to by the Senate belonged to indigenous operators, not foreign oil firms and was therefore not truly representative of the award of oil licences in the Niger Delta.
Falana said in a statement last night that 80 per cent of the oil blocks are owned by foreigners and not northerners, as the list published in the Senate contained only the names of those who were allocated oil blocks during the military era.
"In other words, the list did not contain the names of the other traders who have been allocated oil blocks by the ruling party since 1999. Equally missing from the list are the names of multinational companies, otherwise called "oil majors" which control and manage the lion share of the oil and gas industry," he said.
Falana, who said he had never supported the policy of allocating the oil blocks owned exclusively by the Federal Government to selected individuals and foreign oil companies, however, noted that it was pertinent to point out that the list published was grossly misleading.
He said apart from Mobil there were about 17 other foreign oil companies, which are the major key players in the oil industry, while Nigerians were forced to operate in the marginal fields.
Falana said foreign companies own 80 per cent of the oil blocks, adding that they are completely in charge of the oil and gas industry.
"They produce the oil and gas, and declare the figures they like. They smile to the banks daily while Nigerians fight over the crumbs from the Master's Table. In spite of the indictment by the National Extractive Industry Transparency Initiative (NEITI), some of the companies have continued to withhold billions of dollars from the Federation Account.
"The joint venture agreements between some oil producing countries and oil companies are in the ratio of 80/20 percent in favour of the owners of the oil. But in Nigeria it is 60/40 per cent in favour of the Federal Government of whatever is declared by the oil companies," he explained.
He also noted that the disclosure in the Senate coincided with the death of President Hugo Rafael Chavez of Venezuela who nationalised the oil industry which enabled his government to generate enough revenue to fund a comprehensive welfare programme for the hitherto impoverished people of the Latin American country.
"But the enormous commonwealth of the Nigerian people have been cornered by a few rent collectors and other members of the parasitic ruling class.
A few of them who raked billions of dollars from the illegal sale of the oil blocks have openly confessed that they do not know what to do with the huge fund! Because such wealth has been privatised. Nigeria cannot, like Venezuela, meet the eight Millennium Development Goals by 2015," he added.