FORMER National Chairman, Traditional Rulers of Oil Minerals Producing Communities of Nigeria, TROMPCON, HM Charles Ayemi-Botu, has advocated appropriation of not less than 25 per cent equity shareholding in the Petroleum Industry Bill, PIB, for host communities in Niger –Delta to alleviate their troubles.
HM Ayemi-Botu, paramount ruler of Seimbiri Kingdom in Burutu local government area, Delta state, in a statement made available to Vanguard, said the 25 per cent should consequently be increased to 50 per cent over a period of five years to guarantee lasting peace in the oil region.
His words: “The ongoing PIB debate in the National Assembly, NASS, is arguably a litmus test to lawmaking body, hence, it is aptly necessary to caution the lawmakers not to politicize or whip up ethno-religious sentiments due to the overall importance of oil and gas which is the economic live-wire of Nigeria’s existence for the past 63 years from 1958 to date.”
“Frankly speaking, it is absolutely derogatory, insulting and man’s inhumanity to man that some opportunistic politicians have suggested that 2.5 per cent should be given to host communities and it is pertinent to say that the criteria they used to consider 2.5 per cent as a benchmark is arrant nonsense.
“The co-chairman of the House of Representatives Joint Committee on PIB was a bit positive when he suggested that the committee was not opposed to 5 per cent during his visit to ecologically devastated/degraded communities in Delta state, but that was a tip of the iceberg.
“However, the South-South governors as politicians and not the custodian of the grassroots, (unlike the monarchs who feel the brunt and impact of oil and gas exploitation/exploration and the bedrock of the body polity of the nation as well as the major stakeholders), in their recent meeting at Port-Harcourt, called on the NASS joint committee to appropriate not less than 10 per cent to the Host Communities Trust Fund in the ongoing debate on the PIB Bill.
“To me, it is a step forward and commendable, but the question is what yardstick they adopted in arriving at 10 per cent? Is it through principle of derivation enshrined in the 1999 Constitution? In a Presidential system of government, all royalties belong to the accruing state and only a percentage is paid to the Federal Government, which is not practiced in Nigeria and in the case of Zamfara state, all the royalties accruing from gold mining is solely benefited by the state.
“It is equally pertinent to know the modalities our honorable lawmakers in the National Assembly adopted and how they arrived at the 2.5 per cent pittance that they are proposing in their wisdom to the goose that lays the golden egg (black gold/hydrocarbon), which is not remembered while sharing the largess.
“They have suddenly forgotten that in the 50s ( 1950 to 1957) when agriculture was the economic live wire of Nigeria, the principle of derivation was equally divided 50/50 to the State and the Federal Governments, which was mainly benefited by the three major ethnic groups of Hausa/Fulani, Yoruba and Ibo .
“In 1958 when oil became the sole economic-financial powerhouse of the country and mainly produced from the South-South geopolitical region, then, the principle of derivation ceased to operate in spite of the inherent ecological degradation, devastation, destruction of the ecosystem, air and water-borne diseases, pollution and desecration of farmlands and acid rains that impoverished the people of the Niger Delta for the past 63 years as a result of oil and gas production in the region,” he stated.