By Henry Umoru
AHEAD of the passage of the Petroleum Industry Bill, 2020, Deputy President of the Senate, Senator Ovie Omo Agege (APC, Delta Central), has assured the people of Niger Delta region that the annual contribution of 2.5 per cent actual operating cost by oil companies to the Host Community Development Trust Fund would be increased to, at least, 5 per cent.
He also reiterated his call at the second reading of the bill on the floor of the Senate, where he made a case for gas flaring penalties to be paid to the host communities and not the Federation Account.
Speaking, yesterday, in Abuja when he hosted a delegation of Oil and Gas Host Communities of Nigeria, HOSCON, led by elder statesman, Chief Wellington Okrika, Omo- Agege appealed to members of Reformed Niger Delta Avengers, RNDA, to halt their planned attacks on oil facilities in the region, adding that going ahead with their threat would create economic setback for the country and additional environmental degradation in the area.
Omo- Agege, while hosting HOSCON delegation, said, “That I come from the oil bearing communities is one of the reasons why I am DSP today given our contribution to the economy of the country. It is only natural that I champion anything that would promote the interest of the people of the Niger Delta.
“The PIB is a very crucial bill. If properly handled, it will bring a lot of Foreign Direct Investments, FDIs, into the oil economy. This is the best time to take advantage of the oil we have and the best way to do so it to encourage FDIs and this can only be achieved when the Niger Delta is peaceful. That is why I am suing for peace.
“Let the Niger Delta region begin to look like the region that produces the wealth of the country. The host community component of the PIB law is of utmost importance to us in the National Assembly and we believe it should be a win-win for all stakeholders. And so, we are determined to ensure that we have an improvement on what we have before. I am also confident that we have made good impression with our colleagues and we would get something favourable for the oil bearing communities.
“I also believe Gas flaring penalty cost should come to the host communities and I am sure we have impressed it on our colleagues to allow that to stay. That money shouldn’t go to the Federation Account but to the people whose environment are impacted by gas flaring.”
Senator Omo-Agege’s appeal to the agitators came on the heels of recent threats by a coalition of nine militant groups in the Niger-Delta region, expressing readiness to resume hostilities by attacking oil and gas facilities if the Federal Government did not meet the demands of #EndSARS protesters across the country.
Earlier, Chief Okrika, called on Omo- Agege to intervene in the issues brought before the Federal Government concerning the PIB, gas flaring, 13 percent derivation payment to the states instead of the oil bearing communities, the N98bn gas flare fund and the controversy surrounding the Pipeline Surveillance contract.