A crisis appears to be brewing over the ownership of the Kolmani Oil and Gas field as both Bauchi and Gombe States have started laying claims to the oil wells.
Officials and residents of the two states have also accused each other of attempting to appropriate the site which is said to contain one billion barrels of crude oil reserves and 500 billion standard cubic feet of gas.
The development is coming barely two weeks after the President, Major General Muhammadu Buhari (retd.), inaugurated oil exploration at the Kolmani oil field by the Nigeria National Petroleum Corporation Limited and its joint venture partners.
Kolmani in North-East Nigeria reportedly has oil in commercial quantities with Oil Prospecting Licences 809 and 810, cutting across Kolmani One, Two, Three, Four and Five.
Speaking during the event, Buhari disclosed that the project has attracted over $3bn investments so far.
The president said, “We are pleased with the current discovery of over 1b barrels of oil reserves and 500 billion Cubic Feet of Gas within the Kolmani area and the huge potential for more deposits as we intensify exploration efforts.’’
“It is, therefore, to the credit of this administration that at a time when there is near zero appetite for investment in fossil energy, coupled with the location challenges, we are able to attract investment of over $3bn to this project,” he added.
Buhari noted that the governors of Bauchi and Gombe states had given assurances of their unwavering commitment and willingness to ensure support and cooperation in the localities.
However, the governors’ assurances seemed to have been forgotten as the two states declared that they were the rightful owners of the oil-rich field.
While insisting on Gombe’s ownership of the contentious Kolmani field, the Special Adviser to Gombe State Governor on Information Management and Strategy, Alhaji Ahmed Gara-Gombe, blamed the boundary commission for the controversy.
He stated, “The truth of the matter is that the Kolmani oil well is in Gombe State; Akko Local Government, Pindiga emirate, Tai district, Kaltanga Mamuda ward. It has nothing to do with Bauchi State or Alkaleri Local Government.
“If putting the records straight is what is seen as a crisis, so be it. The National Boundary Commission, the NNPC are hypocrites in this matter, they know the truth and they should come out clean.”
According to Gara-Gombe, the solution is to give Gombe what belongs to it, adding, “Kolmani One is in Bauchi State in Alkeleri, let them go and explore that one. Four oil wells are in Gombe.’’
He noted, ‘’Again, we need an independent jury to determine and verify our claims. Our people whose land was dubiously taken in the name of access road and were paid between N64,000 to N117,000 as compensation by the NNPC must be paid appropriately.
Reacting to Gombe’s claims over the oil field, Muhammad Bako, the member representing Pali Constituency in the Bauchi State House of Assembly where the area is situated, stressed that the area belonged to Bauchi.
He added, “This issue is not an issue for the youths because when you bring in the youths, the issue has become a child’s play. They are being sponsored by people and they don’t know exactly where the boundary is.