Comrade David-West B. David is a household name in the Niger Delta region. David-West is a social crusader, rights activist and a political analyst. In this exclusive interview with Niger Delta Herald in Yenagoa, the Bayelsa state capital, he raised pertinent questions on the controversy surrounding the Atala Oil Field belonging to the Bayelsa state government but ownership license of which has been revoked by the Department of Petroleum Resources (DPR) and given to a private company. He believes that the immediate past governor of Bayelsa state, Senator Henry Seriake Dickson knows something about the reallocation of the oil marginal field and should therefore explain, in vivid terms, his interest in the Atala Oil Well to Bayelsans.
What is your take on the controversy surrounding the Bayelsa state owned Atala Oil Field?
I am very angry anytime l hear of Atala Oil Marginal Field belonging to the Bayelsa state government. I am angry because that oil block is supposed to benefit the good people of Bayelsa state. It is a common wealth of the people. The former President, Chief Olusegun Obasanjo allocated the oil fields to Delta, Bayelsa, Rivers and Akwa Ibom. I will not want to speak about the position of the other states, including Rivers state. It’s as if they don’t know but in Bayelsa state, we know very well that that Oil Field exists. After the administration of Chief DSP Alamieyeseigha under whose government the oil field was allocated, we haven’t heard anything about Atala Oil Marginal Field producing even a cup of oil or giving one naira to Bayelsa state. But individuals are benefitting from that field. At a point in time I was told Century Energy was managing the Oil Field for the Bayelsa state government. The former governor of the state, Senator Henry Seriake Dickson brought in the Bayelsa state Oil Company Limited, which I have always described as a voodoo company. The governor appointed some persons – Board of Trustees, Directors and the rest. I keep questioning, where is the office of the Bayelsa oil company so that as a people we can go and make enquiries? Are there no persons working in that company? So, the whole thing is shrouded in secrecy. It there means there is fraud in everything they are doing or it’s a conduit pipe for some few individuals to suffocate the people of Bayelsa state, diverting the revenue that is supposed to come to the state into their private pockets. I’m happy that some few days ago, the issue of Atala arose again. When the Civil Liberty Organization raised this issue, they said we are poke-nosing.
What is your actual position on the Atala Oil Field?
I am calling on the attention of the governor of Bayelsa state, Senator Douye Diri, to set up a committee to look into the issue. If the governor does not do that, it then means he is aiding and abetting corruption. If the governor decides to keep mute not to offend anyone, it means he is in support of those siphoning our money. I am not only calling on the governor to set up a committee that will come out with its findings and it will be swept under the carpet, action must be taken now. If the governor does not want to do that, we, as a people from this state, we must move to liberate ourselves from the wickedness of these people. So, we need to rise, wether individually or collectively. But we must rise up to ask questions pertaining the Atala Oil Marginal Field. We must not allow Atala to die a natural death as usual. We must get to the root. How much have they made from it? What is happening to the field now? Unfortunately, we have even lost the license because since the field was given to Bayelsa state, it has not been functioning, it has not produced a kobo, the federal government has decided to withdraw the license. I am also aware that the governor had at a point come out to make a statement concerning the oil field but I see it as a political statement. He said the federal government has taken the oil well that belongs to the state and gave it to individuals. I responded by telling the governor that rather than crying fowl, you should ask questions, has the oil well been functioning? Have they made anything from it? Is the license due for expiration? If it is due, go back and bid for it so that the state can begin to make judicious use of it, which the governor has not done yet before the issue is arising again. We need to know who and who is benefitting from that oil field. That’s my position for now.
We heard that Atala Oil Field now belongs to a company known as Halkin Exploration and Production Limited and that the company belongs to the immediate past governor of Bayelsa state, what do you have to say?
The company that is at the moment claiming to take possession of the Atala Oil field; the former governor of Bayelsa, Seriake Dickson, with all due respect, has a vital information to give to Bayelsans concerning the company.
This is because Halkin Exploration and Production Limited came into existence when the former governor was there in office. He introduced that company. What are his intentions? I will not doubt if by tomorrow, the former governor is a stakeholder in that company. So, that is why I said we need to ask questions. The governor of the staff must ask questions.
He is in charge of the state and the Atala Oil field is under his care. He is holding it in trust for us. So, if our governor is holding it in trust and another company is running it, how come? The governor must ask, who are the share holders of this company and how much have they been remitting to the state government? My brother, if the government has been making good use of the Atala Oil field, we won’t be crying like other states.
By now, the State government would have gotten a refinery for herself. By now, we would have been seeing the oil multinationals coming into Bayelsa state every day. But reverse is the case. So, for me, we need to call on the former governor, Seriake Dickson, to come and answer some questions to the people of Bayelsa state.