By Omeiza Ajayi, Abuja
Senator representing Bayelsa East, Biobarakuma Wangagha Degi-Eremienyo has weighed in on the debate generated by the recent passage of the Petroleum Industry Bill PIB by the Senate, urging his colleague, Senator Henry Seriake Dickson not to instigate violence in the Niger Delta region by making malicious and unfounded statements.
Sen. Degi was reacting to reports quoting Sen. Dickson of accusing the Minister of State Petroleum Resources, Chief Timipre Sylva of reducing the host communities development fund in the PIB to 3% as against 5% proposed by President Muhammadu Buhari.
This according to Sen. Degi-Eremienyo is highly regrettable considering what he described as the tireless efforts put in by the Minister in actualising the passage of the bill into law.
He said; “The true story was that the PIB as an Executive Bill was represented to the National Assembly proposing 2.5% of the total operational cost as host communities development trust funds.
“The lead debate was hot and protracted in both chambers. Lawmakers from the Niger Delta region including myself spoke, argued for an upward increase commensurate to our contributions and sacrifices.
“During the public hearing at various centres, host communities canvassed the same position.
“After rigorous and painstaking process from plenary to conference committee, the National Assembly put the host community funds at 3%. This was a National Assembly decision and not that of the Minister of State for Petroleum Resources, Chief Timipre Sylva.
“One wonders how and why Sen. Dickson would drag Sylva into this. Observers would be tempted to ask what efforts he, Sen. Dickson made to achieve the utmost desire as the bill was presented to NASS when he was still Governor.
Other Governors from the region rallied around their people and even lobbied lawmakers from other regions to support the increase in the host community development fund. Ex-Gov. Dickson did nothing as he was contented with spending 13% derivation on aggressive development of his own villages which are not host communities leaving the oil and gas producing host communities to suffer their fate.
“It is ridiculous to see him fighting pretentiously for host communities. Dickson lacks the moral grounds to criticise or attack Sylva’s innocence.
“I can see that Sen. Dickson is just being envious, mischievous, and intimidated by the astronomically rising profile of Sylva”.
Dickson had a news conference on Thursday in Abuja stated that a last-minute invitation of the Minister of State for Petroleum, Timipre Sylva, and the Group Managing Director of the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC), Mele Kyari, by the Senate rubbished an earlier agreement by senators that five percent should be the minimum allocation to the oil-bearing communities.
The immediate past Governor of Bayelsa state had described the presence of the duo in the Senate on the day of the PIB passage as “unparliamentary.”