By Tordue Salem
A bill seeking a backup plan against natural disasters in the Niger Delta region provoked by the long period of oil exploration and exploitation has been introduced in the House of Representatives.
The Niger Delta region has continued to witness non-stop oil exploration and exploitation since January 15, 1956, when oil was first discovered in commercial quantity in Oloibiri, Bayelsa State.
Sponsorer of the bill, Rep, Farah Dagogo, Member representing Degema/Bonny Federal Constituency of Rivers State, explained that the bill is a proactive measure aimed at protecting and catering for the inhabitants of the region, by ‘ providing an assured security for future generations of citizens of the Niger Delta states.’
The bill entitled ‘ Niger Delta Natural Disaster Reserved Fund Establishment Bill’ classified the Natural Disasters to include; earth tremor, earthquake, well-blowout/explosion, volcanic eruption and adverse oil spill leading to environmental devastation.
Funding for the proposed law will comprise ‘ a capital contribution of not less than one dollar from every barrel of crude oil and a similar rate of liquefied natural gas sold by Nigeria; revenue accruing periodically from approved investments made out of the Capital Reserved Fund; other revenue legitimately accruing to the Reserved Fund by means not provided for the bill, and such other sums as may accrue to the capital in the Reserved Fund from time to time. ‘
In order to avoid abuse of the fund, Section 2(4) clarified that the Reserved Fund shall not be used under any circumstances for the following purposes: ‘ as collateral or security for any form of borrowing by Government or to make up shortfalls in the recurrent or capital expenditure of Government.’
The Fund can only be resorted to through a proposal by the President ‘ solely for the purpose of ameliorating the effects of the situation that led to the natural disaster’ submitted to the National Assembly and approved by majority votes of two-thirds of the bi-cameral legislature.
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