By Emma Amaize, Regional Editor, South-South
Governor Ifeanyi Okowa of Delta State, has called on the National Assembly Joint Committee on Petroleum Industry Bill, PIB, to put in place a legislation that would guarantee peace, fairness, equity and justice for host communities in the oil industry.
Okowa represented by his deputy, Kingsley Otuaro, made the call at a Town Hall meeting of National Assembly Joint Committee on PIB and host communities in Delta S tate.
He noted that various host communities in the state endowed with abundant hydrocarbon and rich deposit of oil wells and gas have been subjected to environmental degradation and challenges as a result of activities of oil and gas exploration and exploitation.
He said, “Aquatic lives and farm land have been adversely affected. Natural gas is still being flared with a lot of health hazard to the host communities. To worsen the situation, some oil companies have not lived up to expectation in terms of corporate social responsibility and this has resulted in agitation, demands and protest against oil companies operating in the state.”
The governor who urged the people to take advantage of the opportunity to present their concerns to the committee, commended the committee for its visit and appealed to them to do justice to the demands of the people.
Co-Chairman, National Assembly Joint Committee on PIB, Muhammad Mongono, in his remarks at the interactive session with relevant stakeholders of the various ethnic nationalities, said the committee support the views and positions canvassed by the host communities.
He said, “This time around, there is commitment on the part of NASS to make sure the bill is passed, this is borne out of the fact that amendments of our laws concerning oil and gas industries are long overdue.
“For Nigeria to remain relevant and competitive within the oil industry and for the fact that the world is moving away from fuel to renewable energy, it became an issue of great concern to accelerate the quick passage of the bill,” he said.
Representatives from Ijaw, Urhobo, Itsekiri, Isoko, Ika and Ndokwa ethnic nationalities as well as HOSTCOM, PANDEF and Local Content Agency decried the level of degradation in their various communities.
They noted that PIB 2020 in its present form in relation to host communities’ development does not promote or enhance any of the aforementioned objectives, adding it would neither promote peace and order nor good governance in the oil producing communities.