Festus Ahon, ASABA
THE Co-Chairman, National Assembly Joint Committee on Petroleum Industry Bill, PIB, Mr Muhammad Mongono, Tuesday, said oil-producing communities deserved more than 2.5% equity shares from revenues accruing from oil companies in the Niger Delta region.
Mongono stated this when the Delta State Deputy Governor, Mr Kingsley Otuaro took him and members of the committee on an oil degradation assessment visit to Benikrukru Community, Abiteye Flow Station OML 49 in Warri South-West Local Government Area of the State.
He said the Joint Committee was not averse to the demand by the Niger Delta region for increment in the contribution of 2.5 per cent of the Operating Expenditure (OPEX) of companies to five per cent.
He held that the essence of the visit was for them to see the level of degradation occasioned by the exploration and exploitation of oil in the oil-producing communities with a view to taking necessary legislative steps towards ameliorating the situation.
Mongono said there was a proposal for 2.5 per cent but there has been agitation by the host communities for it to be increased to five per cent, saying; “I am not adverse to given the five per cent, because having seen the level of degradation to the environment, no meaningful farming activity can be done here.
“The aqua life has been destroyed, no aquaculture and these people, the majority of them depend on aquaculture and agriculture for survival. It is as a result of the exploration of oil in their environment that there are no-longer aquaculture and agriculture.
“So, no amount of resources deployed to these communities can be said to be too much because the whole country depends on these communities for survival. So, I am not averse to five per cent and we are going to canvass actively for it as a committee”.
Mongono who also called on representatives from the Niger Delta to actively canvass for the five per cent on the floor of the House said; “there is a determination on the part of the executive and the legislature to pass the PIB with the speed of light.
“Passage of the bill as soon as possible is paramount against the fact that there is need for the country to have peace in the Niger Delta so that oil exploration will be done without hindrance and with all attended effect of bringing more revenue to the country for the purpose of infrastructural needs.
“The world is moving away from fuel to renewable energy, so there is need for the country to maximise through the instrumentality of the PIB, open up the oil and gas industry to make it operate in tandem with international best practices and make it more competitive to attract the much-needed investment”.
The Delta State Deputy Governor, Mr Kingsley Otuaro in his remarks, expressed optimism in the commitment of the chairman to add his voice to the ongoing PIB debate so that communities could have a fair share in the oil deal.
Otuaro who was accompanied by the State Commissioner for Oil and Gas, Prince Emman Amgbaduba and the Member, representing Warri South-West in the State House of Assembly, Mr Emomotimi Gowor, said; “everything about our aquaculture, farming is gone completely. We saw chains of oil while driving the length of the Escravos river, everywhere is just being polluted and the means of the Livelihood of the people is completely gone.
“And it is just natural and fair that something is actually done to alleviate the sufferings of the people. We are happy that they have come, they have seen and the rest will be history on the better side for us as a people”.