The decision of the Senate to insist on 3% allocation for host communities in the Petroleum Industry Bill (PIB), has generated fresh reactions from stakeholders in the Niger Delta region.
The upper chamber on Thursday, July 15, passed the conference committee report on the bill which pegged contributions to the host communities development trust fund at 3% of the operating expenditure of oil companies in the region.
This happend despite the efforts by some senators from the region like Senator Seriake Dickson (Bayelsa West), requesting for a further increase of the percentage to five.
Dickson said: “On the day we concluded work on this bill, some of us disagreed with the provisions and some of us quietly took our leave and we were monitoring developments and managing challenges”.
But President of the Senate, Senator Ahmad Lawan insisted that the session was meant to approve the conference committee’s report on the PIB and not to entertain new amendments.
Worried by the development, the Ijaw National Congress (INC) and the Ijaw Youth Council (IYC), in a joint statement, described the decision of the Senate as shocking and a confirmation that the lawmakers were against the development of the region, where most host communities are located.
The statement, which was signed by the INC President, Prof. Benjamin Okaba and the IYC President, Comrade Peter Timothy Igbifa, accused the Senate to have further deepened the injustice, inequity and unfairness threatening the country’s unity because of their decision.
The INC and IYC, argued that it is unreasonable that host communities who are sustaining the country were only qualified to receive a paltry 3% of the entire resources from their region despite suffering untold hardship, deprivation, marginalisation and poverty arising from the activities of multi national companies.
The statement read in part:
“We totally reject the decision of the Senate. It cannot stand. But if it is allowed to fly, it is just proof that the entire Niger Delta, which has been at the receiving end of the activities of oil companies, sustaining the country economically, stands no chance of developing in this country.
“This decision will reinforce our agitation for resource control, self-determinism and true federalism. In the interest of equity, justice and fairness, we appeal to the Senate to reverse its decision. We earlier considered 10 per cent as small, five per cent as manageable but three per cent as a no-go area.
“This insensitive position is yet another crack on the already failing Nigerian project that can only be cured by the adoption of true federalism and resource control.
The reinstatement further states that the Ijaw nation shall resist this and other obnoxious state policies and laws legally and otherwise.