PORT HARCOURT: OIL-bearing communities in the Niger-Delta have called on the National Assembly to suspend debate on the Petroleum Industry Bill until what they termed proper consultation with the people have been carried out on it.
The statement signed by Celestine Nkabari andÂ leaders of other civil society groups in the region said the bill has only addressed the commercial production aspects of oil operations in the country leaving out matters of utmost importance to oil-bearing communities:
That the National Assembly suspends debate on the Petroleum Industry Bill until adequate time has been created for consultation with community people and the civil society;
That Section 1 of the proposed bill be deleted and replaced with the following:
â€œProperty and sovereign ownership of petroleum within Nigeria, its territorial waters, the continental shelf, the exclusive economic zone and extended continental shelf shall vest in the oil-producing communities.â€ In other words, the control and management of natural resources including petroleum should be vested in the oil-producing communities who should pay taxes to the Federal Government of Nigeria;
* That Community Development Agreements should be incorporated into the PIB to ensure development of the oil-producing communities. This should be a prerequisite for the issuance of licenses as obtained in the Mineral and Mining Act of 2007;
* That the aspirations of the various ethnic nationalities as contained in their Bill of Rights and Declarations such as the Ogoni Bill of Rights (1990), The Charter of Demands of the Ogbia People (1992), Kaiama Declaration (1998), The Resolutions of the First Urhobo Economic Summit (1998); The Akalaka Declaration (1999); The Warri Accord (1999); The Ikwerre Rescue Charter (1999); The First Niger-Delta Indigenous Conference (1999); Oron Bill of Rights (1999) and the Niger-Delta Peoples’ Compact (2008) be addressed in the PIB;
* That the role of the civil society and communities in matters concerning granting of licenses for oil prospecting and production to be clearly spelt out in the PIB;
* That the PIB should properly stipulate penalties for environmental violations by operators of the oil industry in Nigeria and expunge section 286 which requires States and Local Governments to pay 1% and 0.5% of their annual derivation allocations into a Remediation Fund under the custody of the Inspectorate for the purpose of restoring the environment in cases of damage caused to the environment as a result of sabotage; * That the Land Use Act be repealed in line with provisions of the PIB.