By Jimitotra Onoyume
PORT HARCOURT â€” THE new petroleum act before the National assembly is anti- Niger Delta, says Governor Rotimi Amaechi, yesterday in Port Harcourt at the opening of the 40th Commonwealth Parliamentary Association (CPA), Africa Region Conference.
The Governor urged the National Assembly not to allow the Bill sail through as it would further deepen the degree of injustice in the region.
According to the governor, the new bill â€œtakes away the total royalty of the people of the Niger Delta without recourse to the environmental hazards suffered by the people, such intention does not, in anyway, represent justice, but impunityâ€.
He advised that in considering the bill, both Chambers of the National Assembly should rise above social and ethnic interests to ask the question â€œis the Niger Delta fairly treated in the contents of this billâ€?
Governor Amaechi lamented that instead of leaving the National Assembly to consider the 5%, 25% and 70% earlier allocated to the Community, State and Federal Governments respectively in the old bill, the old bill earlier submitted had been substituted with a new bill which erodes all benefits to host Communities and States.
â€œI expect the National Assembly to rise on behalf of the Niger Delta people.Â You cannot just sit down and watchâ€, he said.
â€œThe crisis of the Niger Delta will only be resolved in the Parliament; nowhere else, not even in Court; it is only the Parliament that can forget ethnicism and solve the problems of the Niger Deltaâ€, Governor Amaechi stressed.
He also called on the National Assembly to protect the Niger Delta people â€œfrom the impunity and marginalisation of the majority, protect us from oppression and suppression of our rightâ€, by enacting legislation that will protect the weak from the strong.
â€œWe may be weak, we may not have anywhere to go to, but the strong and the majority must protect the weakâ€, Governor Amaechi said
â€œI do not support violenceâ€, he noted while emphasising that since the oil was for the common good of all Nigerians, management of the proceeds should be in such a way that communities and states that bore the direct brunt of the exploration should have something to show for it.
The Governor recalled that even in the constitution of Boards of management of the oil industry, not one Niger Delta person was involved, noting that such actions were further promoting the underdevelopment in the Niger Delta and called on those involved to beat a retreat.
He congratulated Parliamentarians from the African Region and the Commonwealth for coming in their numbers to deliberate on better ways of bringing the interest of their people to the fabric of their legislature.
â€œThe success or failure of a democracy rests in the two most important arms of government, that is, the legislature and the judiciaryâ€ he emphasised and called for all hands to be on deck to reverse most of the conflicts in Africa through people centered legislation.
Earlier, Chairman of the Commonwealth Parliamentary Association, Africa Zone, Amusaa Mwananwanbwa had commended the Rivers state Government for hosting the event.
Mwanamwambwa, who is also Speaker of the National Assembly of Zambia, said the 39th Conference of CPA in Cape Town, South Africa, deliberated on a number of issues cardinal among which were strings of resolutions and urged members to give quality thoughts to the deliberations in the course of the meeting.
Also speaking, Vice Chairperson of the Commonwealth Parliamentary Association Executive Committee, Keith Flax frowned at the manner in which the global financial crisis was threatening the economy of African countries.
From the closure of mines in Botswana to the sharp decline in the income and expenditure profile of member countries of the CPA, African Region, Flax said the parliamentarians should see themselves as agents of change in reversing the trend.
Earlier in his welcome Speech, Speaker, Rivers State House of Assembly, Rt. Hon. Tonye Harry had said the meeting was a call to duty to all parliamentarians.
Harry who is the Vice President of the CPA, African Region, thanked Governor Amaechi for the tremendous support for the programme.