Debate Ignites Over Oil Resources in C’River: Gershom Bassey’s 2021 Statement Sparks Conversations in 2023

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…Navigating Resource Allocation for Equitable Development

A recent statement made by former Nigerian lawmaker, Gershom Bassey, has ignited a debate surrounding the presence of oil resources in Cross River state. Bassey’s assertion that Cross River does not possess oil blocs/wells, offshore or onshore acreages due to a lack of data has sparked both support and opposition, fueling discussions on social media platforms NEGROIDHAVEN can say.

In a remark delivered in September 2021, Bassey emphasised that the absence of substantial data on oil and gas availability in Cross River State is the primary reason for the lack of oil-related investments in the region. He stated that unlike other states such as Rivers, Bayelsa, Delta, and Akwa Ibom, Cross River has never been allocated oil blocs or wells. He further noted that even Edo State has received such allocations.

The statement, however, has met with mixed reactions from citizens and experts. Some Facebook users expressed scepticism over Bassey’s assertion, pointing to instances of oil drilling and related activities in the state. One user, Richard Duke in 2021 had questioned Bassey about the controversial OPL 231, which saw oil pipelines laid out in the Ikoneto area to extract hydrocarbons.

The conversation gained momentum when over 30 oil wells that had been capped approximately 65 years ago by Shell Petroleum were reportedly uncovered in Ikot Offiong Community of Cross River State. These wells were identified by Ikot Offiong youths who conducted an investigation into the locations where Shell had drilled and capped wells in the 1950s.

The 2023 discovery has prompted calls for federal government intervention to develop the oil wells for the benefit of the local community. Asuquo Joseph, the youth leader who led the search, expressed the hope that embracing peace would enable the community to harness the benefits of the oil wells.

Last week Etubom Nya Asuquo, the clan head of Mbiabo Ikot Offiong, provided historical context, explaining that the wells had been left untapped due to the prevalence of gas over oil in the area during the 1950s. He also revealed his efforts to register oil fields in the state and underscored the importance of accurate data in the allocation of resources. He slammed Bassey for alleging that the state was without oil resources.

These conversations underscore the importance of accurate data and resource allocation in Nigeria’s oil industry. The dispute highlights the need for transparent and inclusive dialogue among stakeholders, including the government, local communities, and experts, to ensure equitable distribution and utilization of natural resources.

As conversations around this topic continue, the role of data and accurate information in shaping resource allocation and developmental initiatives in Cross River State remains a central theme.