By Emma Amaize
WARRI—FLOW-station Host Communities of Nigeria, FLOWHOSCON, Warri, Delta State, and Africa Network for Environment and Economic Justice, ANEEJ, Benin City, Edo State, yesterday, commended the National Assembly for passing the Petroleum Industry Governance Bill, PIGB, urging the acting President, Prof. Yemi Osinbajo, to urgently sign it into law.
But, Foundation for Human Rights and Anti-Corruption Crusade, FHRACC, slammed the Senate, saying that there was nothing to cheer about it, as it called on the House of Representatives to reject the Senate’s variety of the Bill.
FLOWHOSCON, in a statement by its national president and chairman of Kokodiagbene community, Mr. Sheriff Mulade, said: “We thank the current National Assembly for making history by the passage of the bill into law.
“For too long, people played politics with the bill and it was even broken into segments. We are excited today that it has been passed finally into law and President Muhammadu Buhari should not waste time in assenting to it because this bill is the hope of investment in the oil and gas sector. It will give a sense of belonging to all stakeholders and we, therefore, commend our legislators for passing it into law.”
ANEEJ urges speedy assent
ANEEJ, through its executive director, Rev David Ugolor, said: “We call on the acting President, Professor Osinbajo, to sign the passed bill into law without delay.
“To ensure that the excitement of the moment does not get lost, the Federal Government should consolidate on the passage of this bill by accelerating the passage of other aspects of the bill, which directly affect citizens in the Niger Delta region so as to bring succour and development directly to the host communities in the region.”
On its part, national president of FHRACC, Mr. Alaowei Cleric, said: “The passage of the long awaited Petroleum Industry Bill into law by the Senate was a rude shock to us. After carefully reading the Act as passed by the upper legislative chamber, we found out that the Niger Delta region, or rather the oil producing communities, have no place in the Act. The Senate has indeed made good its vexatious and incisive plan to remove the host communities’ funds, otherwise known as the 10 percent equity shares for the oil bearing communities from the bill.
“What else do the oil communities have to celebrate the Act when their interest is not protected? The Act as passed, to us, is not different from the existing obnoxious, draconian and inimical laws that governed the petroleum industry.”
The new Petroleum Industry Act is still enacted to colonize the Niger Delta people for the Federal Government to continue plunder the region.
“The ecologically bastardized and degraded communities in the region have no hope of assuaging their sufferings in the Act. Why must we celebrate a law that designed to keep us in perpetual attrition in midst of vast oil wealth?
“Will the new Act curb the coastal erosions that have been ravaging Okerenkoko, Ogidigben, Sokebulou, Ogulagha, Agge, Ezetu, Bilabiri, Ekeni, Furupa, Akassa, Brass, Nembe City, Bonny and other numerous coastal communities in the Niger Delta region? The answer is definitely no. The 10 percent host communities’ fund was the main trust of the bill. Now that the upper legislative chamber has ungraciously removed it, then the purpose of the bill is defeated.
“The bill as proposed by late President Yar’Adua in 2008 was primarily to address the apathy of oil governance in the Niger Delta region. That was the reason why 10 percent equity shares were voted for the oil communities. We are not concerned about the merger of agencies under the NNPC as such cannot address the problems of the environmental degradation and despoliation as well as the economic deprivation and marginalisation of the oil producing communities.
“What the Senate has done is to stoke the flame of discord between the region and the Federal Government. We will not accept the Act as passed by the upper chamber. We are calling on the House of Representatives to reject the Senate version since its own version has incorporated the much talked host communities funds. No host communities funds, no Petroleum Industry Act,” the group added.