Edwin Clark, Ijaw leader and convener of Pan-Niger Delta Forum (PANDEF), says indigenes of the Niger Delta should be prioritised in the award of new oil licences.
Clark made the remark at a press briefing in Kiagbodo, Delta state, on Wednesday.
The elder statesman said the federal government had in times past overlooked indigenes of the oil producing communities even though they were more exposed to the negative aspects of exploration.
He said marginal fields with licences that would expire in 2019 should be sold off to indigenous oil firms.
“It has become more pertinent and expedient that the federal government, without delay, should open up the existing platforms and frameworks to accommodate more people from the Niger Delta,” Clark said.
“This will, in no small measure, check the socio-economic and related challenges in the region.
“We are aware that about 50 oil blocs and marginal fields will expire in 2019. These marginal fields should be divested to indigenous companies.
“Also, the federal government should henceforth, as a matter of strategic priority, approve its granting to Niger Delta indigenes.
“The state governments in the Niger Delta zone should be given the Right of First Refusal (RoRF) in the renewal and award of new oil licenses.”
Clark said the government should channel proceeds from crude oil revenue to the development of the Niger Delta.