By Samuel Oyadongha
Yenagoa â€” Worried about the shortness of time given for the public hearing on the Petroleum Industries Bill (PIB), a non-governmental organisation, Social Development Integrated Centre (Social Action), in collaboration with Stakeholders Democracy Network (SDN), is organising a communities and civil society consultative meeting to critically look at possible ways to improve it.
The meeting, scheduled to hold from Friday 27-Saturday 28, November, 2009 in Yenagoa, is expected to be declared open by Bayelsa State governor, Chief Timipre Sylva.
It is expected to draw participants from host communities, civil society organisations (CSOs), the academia and top govern-ment functionaries.
A statement by the Programmes Officer, Comrade Celestine Akpobari, noted that the consultative meeting will provide the Niger Delta communities and their representative organi-sations the opportunity for informed self-assessment of the bill and to air their views and opinions since they are the ones who bear the brunt of oil extraction activities.
Akppobari observed thatÂ most of the discussionsÂ on the bill have addressed production and commercial aspects of the petroleum industry and lamented the exclusion of issues of immediate concern to oil bearing communities, such as resource control and environmental management.
He added that a public hearing on a bill, which directly affects a group of people, could not be held in their communities but would be takenÂ to Abuja, the Federal Capital Territory, where the affected people could not participate or be adequately represented.
According to him, a communiquÃ© representing the views and contributions of civil society actors, community leaders and stakeholders shall be presented to the Nigerian public, National Assembly and the presidency at the end of the two-day meeting.